AEGN

7 megatrends in environmental and climate change philanthropy

3 March 2022

Growing momentum

Within this sobering context, the global trend for nations and businesses to adopt net-zero-emissions commitments, the ascendency of solar and wind as the cheapest forms of energy, and the rapid shift of global capital towards climate and environmental, social and governance-friendly assets show the transition to a cleaner future is underway.

At the same time, efforts to reverse the trend in biodiversity loss through mechanisms such as increased support for Indigenous-led conservation and expanded protected areas are attracting new investment from philanthropy and governments across the globe.

This momentum brings an opportunity to stabilise the climate, halt the extinction crisis, create sustainable cities and agricultural systems, restore landscapes that protect ecosystems and species, deliver justice for First Nations peoples and improve people’s health and well-being.

2030 timeframe is critical

The UN says global emissions must nearly halve by 2030 to have a hope of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. Australia should be a leader in the step-change reductions that must occur by 2030 at the latest. We’re a rich country with a wealth of renewable energy resources. We’re also one of the world’s highest per capita emitters. With our natural systems, pressure is growing on world leaders to commit to halt biodiversity loss and protect 30 per cent of land, freshwater and sea by 2030.

In Australia, concern is growing across civil society around the failures of our democratic institutions, including the capture of governments by the fossil fuel industry, big agriculture and other vested interests, aided by a concentrated and influential media sector (see Confronting State Capture).

In addition, we are experiencing deep failures in our economic systems. Government regulation and civil market-based initiatives have failed to constrain the pursuit of profit regardless of negative environmental and social costs, the increased growth of consumerism and the wielding of power and influence by vested interests. Civil society organisations are demanding reform to political lobbying and donations, the establishment of a proper federal integrity commission and that the community voice is heard in our halls of power.

We are rapidly reaching the point of no return for the planet.

Science tells us these next 10 years are our final chance to avert a climate catastrophe, turn back the deadly tide of pollution and end species loss. The task is monumental. We need to replant and protect our forests. We need to clean up our rivers and seas. And we need to green our cities.

Accomplishing these things will not only safeguard the planet’s resources. It will create millions of new jobs by 2030, generate returns of over $7 trillion every year and help eliminate poverty and hunger.

UN Secretary General António Guterres

The power of philanthropy

Philanthropy has a vital role to play in solving the climate and biodiversity crises, including by addressing these causal failures in our democratic and economic systems.

The independence of philanthropy, and its ability to fund outside of election cycles, means philanthropy has been able to support some of the most critical climate and nature interventions in Australia. However, we can — and must — do more. Growing strategic philanthropic investment partnered with independent, powerful and trusted civil society groups is key.

The AEGN outlines 7 megatrends in philanthropic practice that Australian donors can use to supercharge environment and climate protection at this critical time:

  1. Acting at a systems level — addressing root causes and championing solutions.
  2. Working in and funding collaborations — we are greater than the sum of our parts.
  3. Recognising that equity and justice are central to environmental solutions.
  4. Taking a partnership approach means acting with trust, humility and transparency.
  5. Making sure the continued growth in corporate philanthropy genuinely makes a critical difference to environmental change and supports civic over corporate interests.
  6. Supporting the rise of the next generation of philanthropists and activists in their passion for change.
  7. Holding the line in the face of declining public funding for environment and climate.

These megatrends in philanthropic practice are playing out around the world. Increasingly, philanthropy is working with civil society to repair democratic institutions and processes and address the failures of economic systems. It is adding significant value by working together as a sector and with other partners to address complex issues. And by using donations and impact investments, it is providing independent venture capital to underpin innovative solutions to global and environment and climate challenges.

Let’s discuss the megatrends

So, what are the global environmental and climate change giving trends that will help us to become more effective funders? Join the discussions now!

1
Acting at a systems level — addressing root causes and championing solutions
2
Working in and funding collaborations — we are greater than the sum of our parts
3
Recognising that equity and justice are central to environmental solutions
4
Taking a partnership approach means acting with trust, humility and transparency
5
Making sure the continued growth in corporate philanthropy genuinely makes a critical difference to environmental change and supports civic over corporate interests
6
Supporting the rise of the next generation of philanthropists and activists in their passion for change
7
Holding the line in the face of declining public funding for environment and climate

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Australian Environmental Philanthropy Conference

Tuesday 22 March
Watch the recordings of megatrend panels and Project Showcase pitches.