Nani Jansen Reventlow’s keynote talk during our annual retreat for funders this year was titled ‘Harnessing the law for climate justice.’ Nani laid out what long-term funding in strategic litigation can achieve and how to use it as a tool for climate justice.
Keyword “systems change”
Why is 'new economy' work relevant to environmental philanthropy? Reflections on how can funders support work to redesign the economic system to be life-supporting, not life-eroding.
Stephanie Brobbey’s informative keynote talk during our annual retreat for funders this year was titled ‘Embodying a Regenerative Economy’. Stephanie laid out some of the problems we face — climate change, biodiversity loss, extreme inequality — and argued that to understand them we need to interrogate systems, starting with the economy.
The COP26 climate talks brought hope and frustration – but also reminded us of the unique role philanthropy can play in creating a fair and sustainable world. In this piece, Ed Dean considers what the COP taught us about the power and potential of philanthropy.
Today we hit Earth Overshoot Day, the day by which we’ve used up the ecological resources that the Earth could regenerate in one year – fully five months before the end of the year. This is utter madness: we have pushed the self-destruct button and piled our many possessions on top of it to hold it down. Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk may be choosing to launch themselves into the void to escape the – well, possibility of creating another void here on Earth – but what can be done to push that day back to 31 December or beyond? What is the role for philanthropy in creating human systems that cultivate life, rather than destroying it?
When thinking about how to focus their environmental giving, funders often think about three dimensions of work they can support: the thematic issue addressed, the approach used and the location or geography of the work. Jon and Harriet argue that funders tend to inhabit a fourth dimension, values (or discourses), which consciously or not bound the limits of their giving.
What the pandemic has helped bring into focus is the interconnectedness of the social crisis and the environmental calamity unfolding around us. The deeper you go into the causes of both, the more tangled their roots seem to be.
One of the toughest challenges facing us in caring for the environment is that it is going to take all of us working together. The big systemic challenges like climate change or economically-driven degradation of the natural world need systemic responses. Responses are not hard to design, but how to do we achieve the ‘all of us working together’ part? The USA is way out ahead of us here, with funders partnering up with backbone organisations and giving unrestricted funding, in relationships of trust. It is time we in the UK caught up with this approach to whole-systems change.
As a group of Marine NGOs (loosely termed), we are a system, or perhaps more relevantly, we are an ecosystem. We have a loose common purpose, we relate to each other and our actions have consequences for each other, yet until now, we have barely been aware of each other and certainly did not collaborate and coordinate our activities. Not in any meaningful sense. Now this is changing.