The ability of citizens to organize themselves and redress grievances is under attack in 111 countries around the world. For environmental and conservation funders, these restrictions limit the ability to achieve key program outcomes, whether in wildlife protection, forest conservation, or climate change. We can come together with other funders, governments, and NGOs to address the root causes and manifestations of closing space, to help citizens in their efforts to protect our shared planet.
We are at a key moment in history. If business as usual continues, we have just five years left before we reach the critical global temperature rise of 1.5C. Despite some of the world’s largest economies recently ratifying the Paris Agreement, there seems little real commitment to tackle the big transition required to change course from this trajectory. Civil society is mobilising in response, but finds itself under pressure from state and non-state actors alike. At Global Greengrants Fund we are discussing what our priorities should be over the next five years within this context. Three fundamental questions underlie our thinking.
The recent assassinations of internationally renowned Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres and her colleague Nelson García have shone a tragic spotlight on the dangers facing those defending their land and traditional ways of life from powerful government and corporate interests. What can funders do to support environmental campaigners under threat? How can we keep our partners safe and ensure that their vital fight for their basic needs, and some of the world’s most endangered habitats, can continue?
How can environmental funders effectively help build climate resilience and support the transition to a carbon-free world? What role should philanthropy play in mechanisms like the Green Climate Fund? And what does this mean for our business as usual? To address and discuss these questions, almost 200 environmental grantmakers met during COP21 in Paris, hosted by Fondations et Climat and the French Foundation Centre. Over the course of four intense days, five dominant discussions emerged.