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The best antidote to despair is action

5 June 2021

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By Daisy Barham, Environment Philanthropy Manager

On this World Environment Day we celebrate the beauty of nature, the role the environment plays in providing us with food, clean air and respite, and to reflect on what we are doing to our life support system. 

If you follow environment and climate change issues closely, you could be forgiven for feeling glum about our future: Animals as iconic as the koala are facing extinction, old-growth forests in Australia continue to be bulldozed, and we have lost 50 per cent of the corals along the Great Barrier Reef in just 20 years.

And yet, the best antidote to despair is action. I DO truly find optimism in the millions of people taking action to protect and restore our environment, and the growing role that philanthropy is playing in catalysing solutions. It’s an amazing transformation happening right now so get on board!

The UN Environment Program says:

“We cannot turn back time. But we can grow trees, green our cities, rewild our gardens, change our diets and clean up rivers and coasts. We are the generation that can make peace with nature. Let’s get active, not anxious. Let’s be bold, not timid.”

Climate change, oddly enough, offers us an opportunity! In the words of Christiana Figueres, the architect of the Paris Climate Agreement, “You can see climate change as the greatest threat that humanity has ever faced. Or we can see it as our greatest opportunity. We cannot afford to waste that opportunity.”

Last week, with Philanthropy Australia, we co-hosted a Climate Change Masterclass for funders to come together and be part of the solution, and not ‘waste that opportunity’ to leave the world a better place for current and future generations.

In the Climate Change Masterclass, we heard from three exceptional funders who are actively addressing climate change and at the same time, shaping the future of Australia. Their key message was to just start funding, and not to wait until you feel as though you have all the information and a clearly developed funding strategy. In their words, you will learn best by doing, so get started and refine your giving strategy as you go.

The Masterclass also demonstrated how funders supporting climate action with a strong justice lens, can not only address climate change but also improve the lives of Australia’s  —  and the world’s  —  most vulnerable people. For example, funding action on climate change might look like providing energy efficient heating and cooling for households in Western Sydney, supporting remote Indigenous communities to switch from unreliable diesel electricity to solar, or supporting landholders to drought-proof their farms by planting trees.

Irrespective of your funding capacity and area of interest there is a role for you to play in ushering in a world where action on climate change makes peoples’ lives materially better – not just tomorrow, but today.

As Jane Thomas of the Myer Foundation, who spoke at the Climate Change Masterclass declared, “Climate change is complicated, but funding climate action isn’t.”

If you’re ready to get started funding climate action, you can:

  • Join our network or renew your membership
  • Register your interest for a future Climate Change Masterclass
  • Get a free one-on-one consultation with one of our expert Environmental Philanthropy Managers to discuss how your funding might address climate change
  • Contact me for a short list of funder-generated projects seeking immediate support before the end of financial year

Keen to get started?

I can help. Email me on daisy@aegn.org.au

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