Robert Hicks Foundation

Applying a climate lens

19 September 2019

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As the issue of humanity’s impact on the environment becomes ever more pressing, people are seeing it increasingly influence all facets of society and daily life, from politics to manufacturing to mining.

Addressing the impacts of climate change: Briar Stevens is a Grant Program Manager at Equity Trustees working with the Robert Hicks Foundation. She shares some case studies using a climate lens.

A new generation of philanthropists

As an enabler for so much vital work in our communities, it’s imperative that a climate lens also be applied to the for-purpose sector, which is what Equity Trustees and its partners have been doing.

While we continue to grant through the trusts and foundations we manage in accordance with their established principles, consideration is also made on issues that were never contemplated during their founders’ lifetimes, including the impact of climate change.

Well-versed in the risks and consequences associated with climate change, viewing the for-purpose landscape through an environmental lens will only become more prevalent as a new generation of active philanthropists take the reins of their family’s giving.

The Robert Hicks Foundation

The Robert Hicks Foundation is an example of one that’s already put climate front and centre of its giving strategy, with a commitment to providing its annual distributable income towards a goal of “zero emissions in Australia by 2040”.

Through the Hicks Foundation’s Climate Change program, Equity Trustees is currently the sole supporter of the Climate Action Network Australia’s Small Grants Scheme, whose over-arching objective is to accelerate the energy transformation as we reduce Australia’s emissions to zero and beyond. The program was influenced by emerging models of participatory grantmaking that aim to devolve grant-making decisions to the constituencies that will undertake the work and drive change at grassroots level.

Through the Hicks Foundation’s Climate Change program, Equity Trustees is currently the sole supporter of the Climate Action Network Australia’s Small Grants Scheme.

The William Buckland Foundation

Similarly, the William Buckland Foundation is also applying a climate lens. Sustainable agriculture is one area they have focused on, recognising the crucial importance of this sector to Australia and the enormous impact that climate change is making and will continue to make on farmers — hence the need for effective solutions now and into the future.

The large and long-running William Buckland Foundation, of which Equity Trustees is one of the trustees, has an Advancing Agriculture component in its granting program through which they’ve recently supported the Victorian Climate-Smart Agriculture Fellowship. This initiative helps Victorian farmers mitigate and plan for climate risks and challenges as well as providing them with training and education that empowers them to think entrepreneurially and leverage opportunities to generate profit.

Farmers who are better environmental stewards have reaped the benefits of their work financially and experience improved their mental health, sense of wellbeing and pride in what they do.

Australian National University

In a separate project, the William Buckland Foundation also supported the Australian National University (ANU) to implement a series of actions, stemming from a 20-year-long research study into sustainable farming that will assist farmers in better managing the balance between agricultural production and profitability and long-term sustainability.

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