F20 Internal News Blog

Making the most of Key Policy Moments: UK Environmental Funders at Work

By Florence Miller, Environmental Funders Network

 

Decades of experience have taught the environment sector that pinning all our hopes on big summits is unlikely to pay off: addressing the climate and nature crises is a long game. Nonetheless, these events are important moments in time which offer meaningful points of leverage for the sector to seize. In 2021, the UK’s duties hosting the G7, as well as COP26, have offered key opportunities to push not just the government but a range of different stakeholder groups to demonstrate leadership on the climate and nature crises while these issues are in the international spotlight. Hosting the summits raises the profile of the government – leaving it more vulnerable to criticism when its leadership on key global issues like climate change is lacking – as well as raising the profile of the issues themselves, making it easier to press or rally other stakeholders to take action.

Funders of the environment in the UK are backing a broad range of strategies to take advantage of these opportunities: strategies that employ both ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ tactics targeted at a range of different stakeholders. Combined, will they be enough to help 2021 be the year when we finally begin to make progress at the speed and scale required to address the issues of our time?

There is evidence at the global level that the tide is turning: unprecedented (and unpredicted) growth in renewables; a growing trend amongst investors to demand change (e.g. investors controlling $41tn in assets called on world leaders to bolster net zero targets; climate activist investors recently gained seats on the Exxon board); high-level court cases ruling against the fossil fuel industry (e.g. a Dutch court recently ordered Shell to reduce its emissions very significantly; an Australian court found that the government has a duty to protect young people from the climate crisis); and public opinion around the world that is overwhelmingly in favour of action on climate change.

But so far these trends have not been sufficient. Global emissions are set to rise in 2021 by the second highest rate in history. Deforestation continues apace – in fact, during 2020, when most other things slowed down, deforestation rates sped up – and extinction rates are accelerating. Meanwhile, at the G7 summit, country leaders committed to action on climate and nature but under-delivered in terms of funds to deliver that action, especially in the global south.

I did my undergraduate degree in geography many years ago, and if there is one thing that stayed with me, it’s that geography is all about rates of change. So too with the climate and nature crises: we can be ‘winning’ on a range of fronts but if it’s not fast enough, the consequences will still be dire. We need very quickly to increase the rates of change, and the G7 and COP26 meetings provide us with successive moments around which to rally, to pressurise and to capture the narrative. UK funders are doing this in characteristically different ways, reflecting their own theories of change or their preference for supporting different approaches:

Some are supporting Extinction Rebellion’s media work, to ‘shift the narrative so that only action proportional to the crisis – and in line with the science – is publicly acceptable’.

Others have recognised the increasing power of youth voices and action, backing such initiatives as the Mock COP26, held by young people from around the world, which took place when COP26 was initially due to be held in November 2020, and which will now be delivering its conclusions to the ‘real’ COP later this year.

Some are using the location of COP26 in Glasgow to galvanise climate action in Scotland, such as through the work of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland  – an organisation that is also providing a platform for civil society groups from around the world to meet, connect and find places to stay during COP26.

Others still are focusing on supporting work mobilising the public to put pressure on the Government, such as through The Climate Coalition’s Great Big Green Week this September. That festival will be linked to mobilisations around the G7 and the COP, and all will encourage individuals, businesses and NGOs to sign onto a declaration calling on the UK Prime Minister to join them in unleashing a clean energy revolution; protecting and restoring nature; and leaving no one behind by increasing support to those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change in the UK and abroad.

Meanwhile, at the Environmental Funders Network, we have sent out a letter signed by 14 established environmental philanthropists to the 100 wealthiest families and 100 largest foundations in the UK (excluding those already giving to environmental causes), which was covered by the media. It highlighted the importance of this year, asked recipients to direct their philanthropy and investments urgently towards ‘the challenge of our lifetimes: to restore our climate and nature’, and offered them a range of resources, information and connections to help with this.

These are a fraction of the many initiatives trying to make the most of this important year. While we may not have a seat at the negotiating table alongside our political leaders, history tells us that the voices of civil society – when they are loud enough – can drive unprecedented and even unexpected change. With the G20, hosted by Italy, and COP26 still to come, the goal must be to ensure that those myriad voices add up to a chorus that cannot be ignored.

Europe needs to lead on Global Green Deal – Foundations Have a Crucial Role to Play

By Hanna Stähle, Philanthropy Advocacy

 

The climate crisis is one of the greatest challenges of our time and requires urgent action. There is only one decade left to act. “We cannot do this without civil society”, said Executive Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans who is in charge of the European Green Deal at the panel discussion organised by F20 at the annual conference of the German Association of Foundations. And further: “The way in which foundations can operate in our societies is the reflection on the quality of democracy in Europe,” showing his willingness to engage in a dialogue for a better operating environment for philanthropy and civil society.

The European year for climate action

The European year is of great importance for climate action. The UK and Italy, who are hosting the G7, G20 and COP26, committed to putting climate change and the reversal of biodiversity loss at the heart of the multilateral agenda in 2021. This is a unique opportunity to lead the international community towards climate neutrality. Making Europe sustainable and climate-neutral by 2050 is the ambitious goal of the European Green Deal.

“European responsibility to address the climate crisis is also our responsibility as foundations, and the ambitious implementation of the European Green Deal should be of concern to all of us in the civil society. Otherwise, there will be no Global Green Deal”, said F20 Chair Klaus Milke opening the conversation on the role of foundations and civil society in addressing the deterioration of our climate.

F20 has brought together a panel of global thought leaders to exchange ideas on how to drive collaboration between policymakers and philanthropy towards climate neutrality and just transition: Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, Klaus Milke, Chair of F20, Sandra Breka, Member of the Board of Management of the Robert Bosch Stiftung, Carola Carazzone, Secretary General of Assifero and Chair of Dafne – Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe, Sylke Freudenthal, Managing Director of the Veolia Foundation, Giles Ruck, Chief Executive of the Foundation Scotland, and Vidyah Shah, Executive Chairperson of the EdelGive Foundation.

Philanthropy’s role in addressing the climate crisis

“This is a time when we need to get civil society fully on board for a fundamental change in the way we live. We have given ourselves as European Union thirty years to learn to live within planetary boundaries”, said Frans Timmermans appealed to the European and global philanthropy community.

“In this fundamental transformational change, civil society is going to play a crucial role. Not making that change is going to be not just financially far more costly, it’s going to lead to disruption that humanity will have a huge problem dealing with”, said Frans Timmermans.

Scientific research shows that we have reached a number of tipping points, which – if not reversed – can lead to natural catastrophes and developments that are beyond our control. Timmermans made his message clear “We have to change. We have to tell people that this change is complicated, but it can be done”.

Sandra Breka, Member of the Board of Management at the Robert Bosch Stiftung, one of the largest private foundations in Germany, has emphasised: “With its resources and networks, philanthropy should play a decisive role in the global recovery and help shape a Global Green Deal. Foundations have the privilege to work out long-term strategies, without pressure to focus on immediate return on investment. They are ideally positioned to create innovative partnerships, can afford to think big and include stakeholders from all sectors and disciplines.

Carola Carazzone, Secretary General of Assifero and Chair of Dafne – Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe representing over 10.000 public-benefit foundations, echoed this: “Foundations’ power lies in their enormous strategic freedom as well as their ample flexibility and agility in action. Differently from governments and companies, foundations can take risks, experiment, can try and fail, which is the only way how innovation can happen”.

Managing Director of the Veolia Foundation Sylke Freudenthal pointed out the untapped potential of philanthropy in contributing to climate neutrality and being part of the solution: “All civil society actors have a wide range of action points in their daily operations and in their core business where they can act in a more climate-friendly way”.

Single Market exists for business, but not yet for Europe’s philanthropy and civil society

A majority of public-benefit foundations in Europe has been established in the last three decades, a result of Europe’s growing stability, prosperity and solidarity. “Foundations can foster partnerships and collaborations capable not only of managing responses to crises but also of innovating and building the future”, shared Carazzone.

However, the philanthropic potential is much higher if policy-makers removed existing legal and fiscal barriers and enabled a European Single Market not only for goods and services as well as for-profit companies but also for public-benefit foundations, non-profits and philanthropic flows, as it is outlined in the European Philanthropy Manifesto of Dafne and EFC’s joint Philanthropy Advocacy initiative.

Timmermans showed eagerness to propose policy solutions and to remove these barriers for European philanthropy’s action: “Where are the problems for you to operate at the pan-European level? If I can help remove some of the existing obstacles, I will be at your disposal”.

Where are the problems for you to operate at the pan-European level? If I can help remove some of the existing obstacles, I will be at your disposal, said Frans Timmermans

While politicians face legitimacy challenges, foundations and civil society organisations “are the outside independent voice” that have trust in the population and can mobilise citizens for climate action. Civil society is essential in explaining the consequences of the climate crisis and providing tangible examples to citizens. “If you will be able to transmit this sentiment that it is good to take a step back not for yourselves, but for our children, we will be able to move mountains”, he underlined.

Photo Frans Timmermans: Alain ROLLAND. Copyright © European Union 2021 – Source: EP Plenary session – European Climate Law

Social justice and the need for collaboration

Climate change does not affect everyone equally. The involvement of European public-benefit foundations and civil society will become more crucial as the climate crisis is reinforcing existing inequalities and affecting Europe’s poorest citizens and communities most. In addition to the climate crisis, the COVID-19 global health pandemic has further exposed and exacerbated the vulnerabilities of our socio-economic systems. Tackling climate change and environmental degradation requires a holistic approach that takes into account the many perspectives of the climate crisis.

“It’s existential that we reign in the climate and biodiversity crises, and safeguard a stable planet for all of humanity. These crises highlight the importance of a net-zero, but also that of solidarity and a just transition that leaves no one behind,” said Sandra Breka.

Eckart von Hirschhausen, physician, comedian and philanthropist, made a plea for connecting climate crisis with health, which would help explain the negative impact of climate change to citizens in clear and simple ways: “The common denominator of climate action and protecting biodiversity is health”.

Giles Ruck, Chief Executive of the Foundation Scotland, emphasised the importance of local action: “Social justice means making a difference at the local level, inspiring communities.”

Vidyah Shah, Executive Chairperson of the EdelGive Foundation, called for  more collaboration at the global level and stressed the important role of philanthropy. “Over the last few months, we have started a new and more intense climate debate in the philanthropic sector in India. More transformative cooperation between Europe and India as well as other parts of the world in the spirit of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement is essential to achieve greater sustainability and to combat the global climate crisis.”

In the last week, a ground-breaking partnership was announced between the European Commission and Breakthrough Energy Catalyst, founded by Bill Gates with the aim of raising $1 billion to boost investments in critical climate technologies. This will see private and philanthropic funding matched by EU funding within the framework of InvestEU. This is an important example of the bold collaboration that we need to find the solutions to the global crisis that we are facing and to facilitate a just transition, and hopefully only the beginning of private-public partnerships with the aim to increase collective impact.

 

This article has been originally published by Philanthropy Advocacy.

Sustainability as joint effort of communal and civil society actors

By Larissa Wegner, Schöpflin Stiftung

 

“Think global, act local“ – this credo is associated with the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. In its Agenda 21, the UNCED emphasised, among other things, the importance of cooperation between local authorities and groups in tackling environmental issues. Even if this cannot mean releasing national governments from their responsibility, the bottom-up process still appears to be one of the most promising approaches to achieving urgently needed climate action in view of the longevity or failure of global climate protection goals.

Local initiatives for environmental protection offer the chance for direct collaboration between the lowest level of state representatives and citizens, but often face their own unique challenges and dynamics. Lörrach, a town of about 50,000 inhabitants in the southwest of Germany, is just one example for this. In Lörrach, promising advances for climate action have been started in a combined effort at the local level. Both municipal and civil society actors are involved, and, with the Schöpflin Stiftung, a local family foundation committed to setting the course towards a better future for young people and future generations. These groups are united by their long-standing local commitment and concern for sustainability, but initiatives of communal and civil society actors developed rather independently side by side.

The city of Lörrach has been following the path of sustainable energy policy for more than two decades. Twenty years ago, it became the first German city to be awarded the Swiss Energy City® label; and since 2010, it holds the European Energy Award® Gold. In 2019, Lörrach declared “climate emergency” and set itself the goal of becoming a climate-neutral municipality by 2050. On the other hand, Lörrach is home to an active group of citizens who have been advancing climate protection initiatives for many years, promoting a vast variety of individual projects, from food sharing and clothing swaps to permaculture projects and photovoltaics. And there is the Schöpflin Foundation, established by the heirs of a longstanding local family, and particularly concerned with empowering bottom-up civic engagement processes in its regional and nationwide activities.

Often, it does not take much to bring about positive change on the local level. In Lörrach, the Schöpflin Foundation offers low-threshold formats for local actors and projects. Through its Wandelbudget (“Budget for Change”), for example, the Foundation provides organisations and citizens with rapid and unbureaucratic grants for small projects and initiatives, which are otherwise unable to get going due to lack of start-up funding. The Wandelbudget is aimed at projects that promote social change, greater social justice, environmental responsibility and economic public good in the region. With the Zukunftsforum (“Future Forum”), first launched in autumn 2016 in association with a local citizens platform, the Schöpflin Foundation brought together players from different spheres to examine key issues and pave the way for new ideas and cooperations. The overall aim is to strengthen regional networks, promote greater sustainability and bolster social cohesion.

In 2020 communal and civil society actors joined in the effort to promote climate action in Lörrach. The city representatives realised that they need broad support by the local population in order to achieve their goals, as people have to be won over to measures that deeply affect their everyday lives. A September 2019 municipal council resolution initiated a “Climate Participation Plan” that invited the citizens to participate with their ideas and suggestions. Participators of the already existing civil society initiatives decided in October 2019 to take up the city’s offer and work together towards achieving climate neutrality. Through the connection of some of these actors, the foundation offered its financial and structural support for the project. In January 2020, the Runder Tisch Klima (“Round Table Climate”) was officially established as an independent and open forum accessible to all interested citizens. The up to 50 participants are divided into project groups that deal with different topics such as mobility and transport, urban planning, energy and housing, schools, urban greening, food and sustainable living.

In the case of the “Round Table”, the foundation’s approach was to provide the infrastructure and capacity building, thus helping the project to unfold and develop along its own agenda. The initiative was offered Foundation premises for meetings, and Foundation staff took over important organisational elements, such as a central e-mail address that is used to register for the meetings. In addition, temporary support was given by an intern who, as a Friday For Future activist, not only gave valuable input, but also helped to attract young people from the local FFF group to participate in the meetings. Key was the assignment of a professional moderator and coach with experience in organisational development and citizen participation processes. She has added structure and regularity to the process, ensured documentation of the results and continuity. In this way, the group succeeded in keeping track even through the difficult Corona year with almost exclusively digital meetings. Also and most importantly, as an external and neutral advisor with no stakes involved, the moderator has entered into an active and fruitful exchange with communal representatives.

This was crucial to overcome initial target definition issues and communication barriers. The city, on the one hand, has various stakeholders in mind, and must adhere to certain administrative channels and processes. Citizens’ initiatives, on the other hand, are less willing to compromise in their demands, more impatient, while not being held in account if they fail to deliver. This can lead to an impasse and to the parties involved becoming alienated and acting at cross purposes. However, the different approaches and concerns can also develop a productive dynamic if both groups are successfully brought into dialogue. This was the case with the “Round Table”.

This June, the city and the “Round Table” will launch a joint campaign to identify and reduce the community members’ carbon footprint with the help of an app. This is an important step on Lörrach’s path towards climate neutrality. But while the city representatives plan to be climate neutral by 2050, the “Round Table” members aim to achieve this goal as early as 2035. These different time frames have not divided the two players. They have understood that in order to solve their mutual goal they depend on each other. The city has adopted the position “the sooner the better” and will provide financial resources for the campaign. Together, they want to win over at least 500 citizens for this project. Multipliers from all sides are to carry the campaign into the local community with the aim of reaching the yet uninvolved and disinterested, following the credo: We will only master the challenges of climate change if we all act in concert.

From Heatwaves to Resilience: The Hot Spots Initiative in Melbourne, Australia

By Catherine Brown OAM, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation

 

Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation is Australia’s largest independent community foundation with an endowment of $250 million and an annual grants program of $12 million. Since its establishment in 1923, it has served the community of Greater Melbourne by responding to the city’s health and social challenges. Today it is focussed on climate change adaptation and mitigation, homelessness, and economic inclusion.

For the past six years, the Foundation has placed a climate lens over all granting and supports projects that respond to the impacts of climate change in the community. To guide this process, the Foundation asks:

 

  • Is there a way to encourage the reduction in carbon emissions in this project?
  • Are there opportunities to enhance our work to achieve more benefits for disadvantaged groups as we undertake a just transition to a zero carbon world?
  • How will this impact area (for example, affordable housing or health) be affected by climate change?
  • What should we be anticipating and funding now?

In 2016, the Foundation recognised that climate change was increasing the incidence of extreme heat events in Melbourne and disproportionately affecting the health of people who are disadvantaged or socially marginalised.

The two worst heatwaves on record occurred during the Australian Summers of 2009 and 2014 and in January 2019, Australia recorded its hottest-ever month on record. (Victoria, Heatwaves and Climate Change, Environment Victoria, www.environmentvictoria.org.au; Bureau of Meteorology, Melbourne).

Hot Spots – Getting Started

It became clear to the Foundation through consultation with many local government, health and community service organisations that community-based organisations, who work closely with those people most vulnerable to the impacts of heatwaves, were not specifically resourced to plan for and respond to extreme weather events, particularly heat.

In response, the Foundation launched its Hot Spots Initiative in October 2018, to fund local networks of health and community organisations to proactively support their communities during extreme heat.

Hot Spots is a collaborative model that brings together a wide range of government agencies, health, and community service organisations in local areas to develop heatwave resilience actions that support people most at need in the specific communities. This includes older people, very young children, and people with a range of disabilities, who are also financially disadvantaged.

Using the Monash University Heat Vulnerability Index, the Foundation identified key areas in Melbourne with higher temperatures during heatwaves along with higher levels of socioeconomic disadvantage. Applications for funding were invited from not-for-profit organisations already working in health and community service sectors in these areas.

Hotspots commenced with two pilot projects by community health organisation IPC Health and Enliven Primary Care Partnership. This was followed by a program led by Cohealth in inner Melbourne to focus on high-rise public housing and in Banksia Gardens in the north of Melbourne.

Four Hot Spot Sites

Brimbank Hot Spots Program (west Melbourne) (click here)

IPC Health located within Brimbank City Council focused on younger and older residents, especially those residents with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, to increase heat health literacy and prevent the health impacts caused by extreme heat.

IPC Health’s Hot Spots program coincided with two important factors – Brimbank City Council declared a climate emergency and the State Government updated its health priorities to include climate change. IPC researched the level of community awareness about the impacts of heat on health and identified local climate change advocacy groups. It also hosted community workshops to further build their understanding of what residents experienced during summer.

Easy-to-read brochures were published providing information about how to reduce heat in homes and how to monitor personal health during heatwaves. The aim was to empower the community to act in their own homes through simple ways to reduce the impact of heat on their health.

IPC is now working on developing increased access to cooler public places as well as creating peer-to-peer support networks for young people. This includes working with other stakeholder groups such as businesses and religious groups within Brimbank.  It is hoped that shopping centres and places of worship, will adopt a heatwave policy to allow people access to these spaces during summer.

Dandenong Hot Spots Program (outer south east Melbourne) (click here)

Enliven’s project is a collaboration between City of Greater Dandenong, Southern Migrant & Refugee Centre, and Bolton Clarke. The health promotion activities focused on community members who are vulnerable on days of extreme heat including newly arrived migrants, older people and parents with babies and young children.

Cohealth Public Housing Hot Spots Program (inner Melbourne)

Cohealth is a not-for-profit community health organisation that improves health and wellbeing for all by reducing health inequity. This Hot Spots program has a very clearly defined geographic area and focuses on public housing estates in inner Melbourne. Cohealth conducted interviews directly with community members and they are now assessing and addressing issues associated with extreme heat events for older tenants. Their aim is to prepare and protect vulnerable older people from the health issues experienced during extreme heat.

Banksia Gardens Hot Spots Program (north Melbourne)

This new program will establish and improve a green corridor between two urban community gardens that will connect Banksia Gardens Community Services and nearby public housing, as a means of engaging these communities in heat health and resilience in general. It will be culturally appropriate and addresses different needs and preferences such as places for children to play, the elders to sit, and where women would feel safe walking.

The greening of the corridor aims to make it cooler for people to walk from the community housing to the community services building, which will be important as older housing becomes unbearable during heatwaves. The community will learn about heat health issues and how to prepare and reduce these impacts.

Evaluating Hot Spots

The Foundation funded Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, to undertake a formal evaluation of the first three Hot Spots programs (Hot Spots Evaluation Report, Climate Change Exchange, RMIT, October 2020).  The evaluation of the Hot Spots program highlighted the close interconnection between weatherproof housing, existing health issues, financial limitations, and the ability of people to respond to climate change impacts, such as heatwaves.  It also recommended building on the Hot Spots place-based, collaborative model to extend beyond heatwave vulnerability to building resilience to climate change more generally.

Overall, the findings suggested that the components of an effective response to reducing heat vulnerability in low income communities using a cross-sector collaborative approach should involve two key items:

  • Maintaining the flexibility in project and activity delivery (and philanthropic funding requirements), enabling projects to provide context, place-specific outreach, including working through and building upon local networks; and
  • Supporting the sharing of experiences and learning among the Hotspots teams and their local level networks.

Having an overarching Hot Spots ‘project’ was significant in that it catalysed and enabled connections and knowledge sharing among the Hot Spots teams and with other service providers. This also enabled teams to take up a range of opportunities to extend the reach of the Hot Spots work. This collaborative and flexible approach to project delivery allowed for more strategic engagement aimed at improving community resilience to heat events.

The Foundation is now also supporting programs that increase energy efficiency and weather protection of low-income housing and requires high energy ratings in capital grants for affordable housing projects.

A systemic approach in supporting local social economy and transforming communities within the SDGs framework

By Giacomo Pinaffo, Fondazione di Comunità di Messina

 

The Messina area is located in the north-east of Sicily (Italy) and lies under a context of serious socio-economic degradation: Sicily in 2018 had the highest unemployment rate in Italy of 21.5%. About 22.5% of families live below the relative poverty line and 19.2% of the economy is reported to be black and illegal, putting Sicily among the last positions in European socio-economic rankings.

The Community Foundation of Messina was created in 2010 to promote social justice and sustainable economic and human development by designing, experimenting, and promoting new socio-economic policies inspired by Amartya Sen’s “capability approach”. Given the irreducible complexity and multidimensionality of poverty and inequality, policies must necessarily be complex and must involve structural actions: the Foundation, indeed, believes that its transformative capacity within its community and beyond is deeply related to its ability to embrace at the same time all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as being strongly interconnected and interdependent.

The Foundation works therefore on creating fruitful interconnections among the welfare, culture, production, research and technology systems and today leads a wide social economy cluster made of foundations, social enterprises, associations, etc. On the one side, this cluster runs programmes capable of generating viable opportunities of knowledge, social relations, housing, income, and employment for materially and culturally disadvantaged beneficiaries and, on the other side, it deploys individual and community social support services that aim at aiding those beneficiaries to fully understand the new alternatives, thus allowing them to recognise and grasp those more suitable for their own well-being.

In ten years, the Foundation has been able to deploy:

  • personalised social support programmes for over 700 people, within articulated programmes that generate for them alternatives in the main areas of human “functionings”;
  • thousands of children and adolescents of all ages, many of them in educational poverty, have benefited from the Foundation’s educational programmes;
  • actions for the development of a social and solidarity-based economy and the promotion of Sustainable Consumption and Production principles: it has supported and/or financed the start-up and/or consolidation phase of about 120 companies and micro-enterprises (in the renewable energy, technological innovation, design and fashion and food industry sectors), corresponding to over 400 jobs created and/or consolidated, out of which almost 100 are for highly disadvantaged people;
  • technology transfer programmes (for instance, it has developed a prototype for micro-generation of energy from marine currents and a prototype of third generation photovoltaic cells for energy production from organic and non-organic dyes, etc.);
  • the renovation and re-functionalisation of 6 highly valuable environmental and architectural/monumental areas, that were abandoned or had been confiscated from the Mafia;
  • high quality cultural productions, attracting external creative talents and developing local ones (for instance, it has created the first contemporary art museum in Messina, renovating a historic lighthouse built during the Roman empire).

One example of a programme combining several actions is the “Capacity” programme deployed in the local slum in Messina, a highly marginalised area, created after the 1908 earthquake and where over 2,000 families still live, with an average life length which is up to 7 years lower than the one in the rest of the city. People here tend to get trapped by their need to survive and may consequently not have the courage to ask for changes and/or act on them. Their expectations are crushed, without any ambition, to the few things considered “possible” and achievable. Disillusionment distorts the imagination, the expression of desires and slows down positive behaviours aimed at exiting the condition of poverty and deprivation.

Here, the Community Foundation together with the Municipality has implemented a complex programme to take about 200 families (about 600 people, including many children) out of the slum. The programme is implementing a policy working on several axes (housing, education, job integration, etc.).

More specifically, an area of 2,500 m2 of slum is being completely renovated. The crumbling shacks have been demolished and a public park and new eco-friendly buildings are being built by the Foundation, adopting the most advanced technologies like co-housing experiences for disadvantaged people and providing common spaces and services for the local community. These buildings have also created an Energy Community, allowing local users to produce, store and self-consume solar energy. The programme designed two main housing solutions for families getting out of the slum, who could not be hosted in the new buildings:  the first solution consists in the purchase of houses on the private market by the Municipality, which then assigns these to the beneficiaries through a participatory process, while keeping the ownership. The second option includes the assignment of a so-called “personalised empowerment capital”: a lump-sum amount assigned to the beneficiary as contribution for the purchase of his own house on the private market, to be often integrated with a loan. In this solution, the beneficiary becomes therefore a house owner.

As the beneficiaries come from a very deprived socio-economic background, they have been accompanied by the technical and social experts of the Foundation to fully understand the two options that were offered, in order to be fully aware of the implications of those options (for instance, all the technicalities of the loan) and allowing them to make a conscious choice according to their own personal preference.

This is the example of a participatory approach that has engaged the final beneficiaries in the co-design of the solution, by offering them more than one standardised option to choose among (expanding their capabilities, according to Amartya Sen’s approach) and supporting them in fully understanding the potential choices in order to let them take a conscious decision.

In this way they can regain decision-making power on an important variable of their life and, hopefully, this will also trigger a change in their mental approach, allowing them to regain also the ability to dream of a better future and act for it.

Solutions Finance – a Framework to Mobilize Entire Financial Assets for Systems Transformation

By Erica Barbosa Vargas and Julie Segal, J.W. McConnell Family Foundation

 

Established in 1937, the McConnell Foundation’s mission is to support Canadians in building a more inclusive, innovative, sustainable and resilient society. We use the lens of systems transformation — changing policies and institutional culture in order to address the root causes of societal challenges – to guide our philanthropic strategy. The Foundation has an endowment of about $650M managed in perpetuity with current yearly charitable disbursements that range between 4% and 5%. We recognized over a decade ago that if we were to contribute meaningfully to pervasive social and environmental challenges, we would need to harness the full range of our unique assets, capabilities, and positioning, and we need to work collaboratively within and across sectors. This led us to start our impact investing in 2007, which today has grown to represent about 18% of our total assets, and to commit in 2016 to managing 100% of assets through responsible investing.

 

Along this journey, we understood better how successful systems innovation to deal with global challenges requires adequate resourcing and calls for different forms of capital allocation across the multiple stages of design, implementation and scale. As a private foundation, we were uniquely positioned to mobilize capital along the entire spectrum of sustainable finance – from grants to concessionary investments to investments seeking market rates of return – as well as a range of other assets – intellectual, reputational, relational – to this end. This led us to shift and adopt a new practice — an integrated approach to deploying financial capital and adapting financial models to catalyze, sustain and scale systems transformation, which we called Solutions Finance.

With this new framework came an opportunity to reposition how we thought of our own institutional capacities as they related to the positive change we wanted to support in society. At one level, it is still about attracting and deploying more private capital to the community sector and helping social enterprises to increase their positive social and environmental impact as well as about increasing our own portfolio with the expectation of a blended social and financial return. Our impact investment portfolio today, totaling $130 million in commitments, consists of a diverse set of investments: guarantees, blended finance instruments, concessionary debt, infrastructure, outcomes-based contracts, private equity, venture capital, public equity and fixed income. The impact being generated is also diverse: improving the lives of vulnerable people and communities; building new economies and markets that are inclusive; building green urban infrastructure; and more.

Another important dimension is about influencing capital markets’ evolution to include stronger standards of sustainability and demonstrating greater concern for societal impacts through shareholder engagement and other responsible investing approaches. This is a more recent and emerging area of our work, but one in which we actively ask ourselves how we can leverage our positions as institutional investors, along with other endowments, pensions funds, etc., to advance our missions with as much intention as with our charitable work and our impact investments.

Something we recognize more now than we did when we began this work is the relative role different types of capital – and capital providers – play in the process of changing systems to create sustainable, inclusive and resilient economies. Impact investors and philanthropy are very important, but so are traditional and more mainstream capital providers. We learned that the participation of mainstream investors is almost always a requirement to take promising market-based interventions to scale – whether in housing, health, climate or any other issue area. To advance their involvement in a meaningful way requires investing in financial innovation and fostering new forms of collaboration between governments, commercial and institutional investors, philanthropy, and communities; and leveraging resources for larger systemic impact, while ensuring community ownership and rebalance of power of different stakeholders along the way. Collaborations between different types of institutions can be powerful. One example of a successful collaboration for us is Garantie Solidaire, a partnership between foundations and a financial institution, where Foundations guarantee lending provided by the financial institution to social economy organizations. By strategically combining our institutional assets – foundations’ balance sheets and financial institution’s operational capacity – and building on our relative strengths we built a efficient and effective program for an entire sector. Over the course of 3 years, we have guaranteed a total of $2.8 million which in turn has enabled $33 million in financing across 12 projects.

Another collaborative effort we were involved in was the Future Economy Lab, a global research and design lab, focused on innovating how we create financial mechanisms and strategies that catalyze the growth of inclusive and resilient economies. It’s first iteration took place in Montreal and focused on the Climate Economy, engaging over 50 organizations – from pensions funds to entrepreneurs – in a research and design process which resulted in an initial $50 million climate-focused blended finance fund, paired with an ecosystem program to support the development and growth of climate innovations and entrepreneurs, while promoting equity, diversity and inclusion across the climate economy.

As we face an unprecedented global moment, in which the climate action urgency is undeniable, global awareness of systemic social injustice is at an all-time high, and we are in need to restart entire economies; philanthropy has a unique opportunity to reimagine not only how it corrects the failures of past socio-economic systems but influences the fabric of emerging ones. Few actors in our economy are as uniquely positioned as many Foundations, with capital that spans the entire spectrum of sustainable finance, with an ability to take risks with its philanthropic and investment capital and mobilize a range of non-financial assets to develop the market and drive larger systems transformation. We hope to continue to learn from others, as we have done until now, to do more of this and better, and continue to adapt our philanthropic practice to the needs of our time.

 

McConnell Impact Investing Annual Portfolio 2019 Report: https://mcconnellfoundation.ca/report/mcconnell-foundation-impact-investing-annual-report-2019/ (2020 Report to be released in June 2021).

The Montreal Future Economy Lab Report can be accessed at the link: https://mcconnellfoundation.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Future-Economy-Lab-Montreal-_-Final-Report-Dec-9-2020.pdf 

More Transparency for Sustainable Investments – EU Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR)

By Michael Dittrich, Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt

 

On March 10th the first step of the EU Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation, SFDR, has entered into force. The SFDR is a complicated term but extremely useful when it comes to fostering sustainable development in the EU. However, there are still some open questions about the classification to article 8 or article 9. But the SFDR is another step to more transparency for sustainable finance products and less greenwashing.

The background of the new rules are the European Union’s sustainable finance action plan and the European green deal which seek to transition the EU to a more resource efficient and sustainable economy and to build a financial system that supports sustainable growth.

SFDR is part of the EU action plan and closely linked with the EU Taxonomy regulation and the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD). It imposes requirements in all investment managers, irrespective of whether the manager manages on market funds or portfolios with an ESG focus. The requirements include disclosures by the investment manager on how he integrates sustainability into its decision making processes, how its remuneration policy is consistent with such requirements and insuring that its marketing communications do not contradict the disclosures under SFDR.

SFDR regulation contains rules for financial market participants and financial advisors. Financial market participants means for example insurance companies, investment firms, pension funds, manufacturers of pension fund products, managers of alternative investments, credit institutions which provide portfolio managements, but not private asset owners or foundations. The target is more transparency for the clients of the financial industry.

The new EU SFDR divides three categories of financial products regulated in article 6, 8 and 9.

Low level article 6:

Financial market participants and advisors have to inform about the manner in which sustainability risks are integrated into their investment decisions or investment advice and about the impact of sustainability risks on the returns of financial products. And if the financial advisors are thinking that there are no sustainability risks in the financial products they have to give clear explanations of the reasons therefore. There is not a duty to integrate sustainability in asset management or financial products but there is a duty to explain in which way sustainability risks are integrated or why there are no sustainability risks in the products.

Medium Level article 8:

Article 8 contains regulations about the transparency for financial products which were promoted under environmental or social characteristics, the typical ESG products in funds or ETFs for example.

For those products there is an information necessary how the characteristics of environmental or social are integrated and if they have a benchmark for that, they have to inform whether and how this benchmark is consistent with the characteristics in the product.

High level article 9:

It contains rules for financial products which have sustainability as an objective target of the product and a reference benchmark. Article 9 products have to inform how the benchmark is aligned to the objective of the sustainable financial product. And there is an explanation necessary why and how the benchmark differs from a broad market index like DAX 30, EURO STOXX 50 or S&P 500. If the financial product has no benchmark it has to inform how the objective is to be attained. If, for example, the target is to reduce the carbon emissions, it is necessary to describe in which way the objective includes the long-term global warming objectives of the Paris Agreement.

So the difference between article 8 and article 9 is that in article 8 we have financial products in which aspects of sustainability are integrated and a description of this integration and in article 9 we have additionally a target, for example a Paris Agreement aligned reduction of carbon emissions.

For article 8 it is sufficient that an ESG fund, for example with a best in class ESG management, uses a sustainable index, for example the Dow Jones sustainability index with a sustainability selection or if the market participant has an own best in class system than he has to describe in which way the system is able to fulfil the environmental or social characteristics.

Principle adverse impacts:

Article 4 of SFDR requires managers to publish on their website a statement on the due diligence policies concerning principal adverse impacts of investment decisions on sustainability factors, taking into account the managers size, nature, scale of activities and the type of financial products they make available. Or if a manager does not consider adverse impacts of investment decisions he has to explain the reasons why he does not do so, including where relevant information as to whether and when he intends to consider such adverse impacts in future. The intensity of that information depends on the number of employees in the finance company with more or less than 500 employees.

Open questions:

If there is a financial product or fund or ETF which has a carbon footprint 30% or 40% less than the benchmark EURO STOXX 50, DOW JONES 30 or S&P 500, it is clear that this is an environmental aspect which is integrated in the product. It is possible to describe it and to explain how the product reaches the minimization of the carbon footprints. This is aligning with article 8 but the question is: Would it also align with article 9? Is it enough to say to reduce the carbon footprint in a volume of 30% or 40% against the standard benchmark? Is that a target to realize the long term targets in the Paris Agreement?

What we need to answer these questions are regulatory technical standards and therefore the European supervisory authorities have to present the draft of technical standards for the targets in article 9 until the 1st of June 2021 and 2022. After this, the commission is authorized to complete the regulation with these technical regulation standards.

We ask now our special funds whether they are in line with article 8 or article 9 and why. And we ask also the public funds we are invested in with institutional tranches. Indeed, clear results remain to be seen as the regulation is still in progress.

The Value of Diversity for the Bioeconomy

By the Bioeconomy Group of the Amazon Concertation, Instituto Arapyaú

 

Forests, rivers and people: elements from which the Amazon Concertation initiative builds references in bioeconomy for Brazil’s different Amazons

The Amazonian territorial diversity, reflected in its peoples, cultures, soils, flora and fauna, contains unique elements to provide mankind with better living conditions across sectors such as healthcare, food and climate regulation. It is possible to generate wealth and prosperity with quality, adding value to and conserving genetic heritage through excellence in research, development and innovation.

The premise that rational, consistent and long-term economic development should be grounded in knowledge of nature and the understanding that Amazonian biodiversity constitutes the ballast for this transformational process establish the narrative of the bioeconomy as a matrix for sustainable economic development that prevents the excessive simplification of nature that generally occurs when increased production is the objective.

Undoubtedly much has been constructed, both on the political and the economic level, with respect to the bioeconomy. Many sustainable development proposals for the Amazon revolve around this or at least consider it a potential lever. Some authors even advocate that bioeconomy is the “salvation” of the Amazon. The concept has already been defined by diverse organizations, and it has recently been redefined for the Brazilian Amazon context, by Instituto Escolhas and others stressing “social and environmental benefits” and Viana et al. (2020), who shed light on social biodiversity and the empowerment of traditional communities.

Although some scholars have previously identified different discourses on bioeconomy, most of the academic and political discussions neglect the role of tropical forests’ conservation. Besides, the bioeconomy should be driven not only by the conservation of the existing biome, but also by the expansion of such biodiverse areas.

Therefore, the discussion of the bioeconomy in the Brazilian Amazon has little in common with the discourse disseminated in industrialized economies, and even in other regions of Brazil, driven mainly by the substitution fossil-based materials and the promotion of the agricultural sector with a view to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The need to re-qualify a seemly established concept stems from, among other aspects, the concern that the normative implications for the bioeconomy agenda in the Amazon further strengthen some drivers of deforestation and the concentration of wealth and income, which would be extremely contradictory. In short, the bioeconomy embodies a major ambiguity: it may be a panacea for the problems of the region while also representing a threat to the standing forest.

The discussions promoted within the Amazon Concertation have revealed different interpretations and visions for the bioeconomy and, as a result, the need for a comprehensive reference that takes all of them into account.

Drawing on a first exercise to acknowledge the region’s diversity in terms of landscapes and occupation patterns, the group reflected upon different types of bioeconomy for the Amazon.

A framework for bioeconomy in the Amazon

Instead of re-defining the concept, we proposed a typology for bioeconomy that could support a broader comprehension of the subject as a common denominator for a robust strategy, considering the relationships between them, including not only risks and trade-offs, but also synergies and opportunities. The table that follows identifies characteristics that distinguish possible “promotion fronts” for the bioeconomy, in accordance with different approaches and production systems. It is not a conceptual dispute. The purpose of the exercise was not to endorse or dismiss any class of bioeconomy, but rather to recognize the diversity of interpretations.

Neither does the detailing of the three groups translate into a definitive classification. It is merely a stylized representation aimed at illustrating how the economic activities and diverse relevant aspects vary along the spectrum and identifying and proposing more targeted actions. In this respect, it should be noted that the concept of (agro)forestry continuum, illustrated below, is considered in relation to these stylized groups.

The (agro)forestry continuum

Methodologically, the characterization of the currently predominant activities is a starting point for identifying activities that may be promoted, the bottlenecks for the development of the production chains, the actions necessary to overcome these, as well as the business models for each group (click here to check the framework).

What contributions does the framework make?

First, it helps to make the trade-offs and risks of the bioeconomy agenda more explicit, such as the possible net increase in emissions or the loss of biodiversity resulting from the substitution of fossil-based raw materials with the unrestricted cultivation of biomass. Such risks should be recognized and make the monitoring of direct and indirect impacts fundamental. In the value chains, concerns such as these make the socioenvironmental safeguards and certification systems even more important.

From the public policy standpoint, an integrated approach should adopt a clear commitment to protecting biodiversity and the climate. Brazil already has policies that support the bioeconomy from different perspectives (science and technology, family agriculture, regional development, energy, among others). However, they lack a broader overall coordination. In this respect, climate governance in the country could be a means of integrating them to ensure that determined frontiers are not overstepped.

Regarding the consequences for businesses, it may be noted that in each domain there are implications for the scale of production and needs and forms of financing. The projects that involve the use of biodiversity present different risk/return ratios for investors. Consequently, there is a specific set of policies to be adopted to provide incentives for businesses in each context. Similar conclusions can be drawn for philanthropists’ strategies.

Reflection upon business models that add value to the standing forest involves a broader understanding of the bioeconomy that comprehends not only products, but also services, one of which is the contribution to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. It is necessary that both negative and positive externalities be explicitly recognized to enable the economic feasibility of bioeconomy businesses that are compatible with the objectives of conservation and climate protection. The framework could also help to identify synergies in R&D as biodiversity is deemed a sophisticated factory of molecules. Molecule prospection research can benefit innovation in production processes based both on the intensive production of biomass and on extractivism.

Lastly, the bioeconomy framework may help local governments to formulate more suitable public policies for valuing social biodiversity by means of knowledge and the businesses and develop Brazilian and international partnerships to drive an economic matrix based on the premises of a standing forest and reduction of socio-territorial inequalities.

Certainly, other conclusions may be derived from the framework. The next steps include the organization, by those mentioned below, of the Forum for Innovation in Investments in the Amazon Bioeconomy. The state of Amazonas has already used the framework to facilitate conversations aimed at formulating more suitable public policies for the region. Furthermore, based on this initial exercise, we aim to explore business models for each of the bioeconomies that may enable development projects for the Amazon region.

 

*Bioeconomy Group of the Amazon Concertation

Roberto Waack, Renata Piazzon and Inaiê Santos, Instituto Arapyaú

Cláudio Pádua, Instituto Bionegócios

Marcello Brito, Brazilian Agribusiness Association (Abag)

Tatiana Schor, Secretary of the Amazonas State Department for Economic Development, Science, Technology, and Innovation (SEDECTI-AM)

Mariano Cenamo, Institute for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of the Amazon (Idesam)

 

Due to length restriction, this article was adapted from the original version, available at: https://pagina22.com.br/2021/02/09/the-value-of-diversity-for-the-bioeconomy/.

Say on Climate

By the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation

 

Say on Climate

Over 35% of total emissions are due to companies – every company in every sector needs to reduce the full scope of their emissions to net zero.  However, at present companies around the world are failing to produce credible climate transition action plans. Only 0.5% of the 40,000 listed companies globally have set validated targets in line with the Paris Agreement goal of 1.5°C, and of those that do, only 8% include any form of interim target.

The aim of Say on Climate is to drive shareholder voting on climate transition action plans, to ensure that companies across the globe are taking action to get to net zero. Just as ‘Say on Pay’ in the UK has empowered shareholders through mandated votes on remuneration, a Say on Climate mechanism, enshrined in company law, can unlock the power of investors to drive climate action.

The solution

Say on Climate puts forward three simple steps for large companies:

  1. An annual disclosure of emissions
  2. Annual disclosure of a plan to manage those emissions
  3. An AGM vote on the plan and performance. This creates an accountability mechanism to ensure company plans match up to the challenge.

Say on Climate seeks to make shareholder voting on climate transition action plans the norm. Investors should actively engage with companies on their plans and where they are insufficient, investors should vote against the board.  Say on Climate launched at the end of 2020 and is already delivering results. In October shareholders insisted that Spanish Airport Group Aena has an annual vote, and subsequently several other companies including Unilever have announced plans for AGM votes at their upcoming meetings.

Get involved

Foundations, in their capacity as asset owners, have the opportunity to get involved by making a public statement of support and by driving people to the website. Find out more at www.sayonclimate.org

A Global Call for an Equitable Wind Down of Fossil Fuels

By Allison Robertshaw, Bulb Foundation

 

The world needs to wind down oil, gas and coal production 6% annually to meet the Paris goal of keeping to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Despite this, national governments have plans to expand production at levels that would result in 120 percent more emissions than the 1.5C limit.  This presents a threat to humanity on par with nuclear weapons in the 20th century. A threat that governments and the fossil fuel industry are not being held accountable for.

Currently, there is no mechanism globally to limit fossil fuel expansion. The Paris Agreement does not even mention oil, gas and coal.  The full extent of plans to produce these dangerous fuels is unknown as there is no publicly available source of information identifying the actual, planned, and potential fossil fuel production or related emissions. This lack of transparency makes it difficult to determine how to use the last of the world’s carbon budget in a just way and the extent to which proceeding with business as usual will overshoot it.

That is why a growing network of civil society, Indigenous, youth, government, academic, business and other leaders from the Global South and North are joining together to call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty to wind down oil, gas and coal in keeping with 1.5C and fast track a fair energy and economic transition.

Renewed multilateral cooperation to end the expansion of fossil fuels is fundamental to addressing the climate crisis.  Front movers such as Spain, Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand, Costa Rica, and Belize are taking steps to end production, yet no country can address the threat alone given the scale of the challenge, the pace of change required and the need to ensure equity so that countries, communities, and workers are not left behind.

The issue of equity is central. Wealthy fossil fuel producing nations have the greatest capacity to lead and must work with other nations to ensure a global wind down of fossil fuel production and emissions. G20 nations are among the countries that have benefited the most from fossil fuels and many are in the best position to be early movers.  For example, the United States and Germany have the greatest ability to transition away from coal given their economies are not reliant on the industry for jobs and they have resources to mitigate the impacts of a transition. Similarly, the U.S., UK, Canada and Norway are less dependent on oil and gas for government revenues and are in a stronger financial position to make a shift than in places such as Nigeria, Azerbaijan, and the Congo.

Production cannot be left to markets to constrain given they are distorted by billions in fossil fuel subsidies and some governments purchasing major projects.  If the markets determine who and where production happens, it will be decided based on price alone and not on equity, climate impacts, or biodiversity.

A Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty would complement the Paris Agreement, drawing from past efforts to thwart threats to humanity including nuclear weapons along three pathways:

Non-Proliferation – Don’t Add to the Problem

An immediate end to the expansion into new reserves of coal, oil and natural gas to limit the globe’s production of carbon emissions.

Global Disarmament – Get Rid of the Existing Threat

Existing oil and gas fields and coal mines contain more than enough carbon on their own to exceed 1.5C. Phasing out those current stockpiles is a much-needed step to keep the world under Paris Agreement temperature limits.

Peaceful Transition – Accelerate an Equitable Transition

Every worker, community, and country must be taken into consideration. Only a proactive plan to enable economic diversification, implement renewable energy and other reliable, cost-effective low-carbon solutions will be able to meet the needs of a sustainable future.

The global campaign to call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty is uniting grassroots groups who are fighting on the frontlines with youth groups, Indigenous leaders, civil society organizations, academics and scientists. It is in fact the first ambitious global climate demand since before the Paris Accord.  Hundreds of organizations have endorsed the call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty and are working together to advance its creation by:

Building an evidence base for action through the development of a Global Registry of Fossil Fuels that tracks existing, planned and potential production and emissions and other transparency and just transition research projects;

Changing the narrative on fossil fuels by elevating local stories of resistance to fossil fuels and a global call for a phase out and fair transition; and

Generating political pressure and buy-in from international government bodies, national, sub-national and local governments for a treaty and the adoption of phase out and fair transition plans.

Momentum is growing as partners sign on from around the world. Cities are joining the call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty akin to the Nuclear Free Cities movement that helped pressure national governments to disarm. Vancouver, Canada was the first city to endorse the treaty followed by Barcelona, Spain.  The Bulb and Quadrature foundations are among the philanthropic organizations supporting the initiative. As more stakeholders join, fossil fuel companies will find it increasingly difficult to defend expansion plans to governments and investors.

Demand-side emissions (the burning/use of fossil fuels) reduction strategies have been the centerpiece of climate action. The growing production gap highlights these efforts must be accompanied with supply side solutions (the production and distribution of fossil fuels) to achieve global climate goals. Philanthropy can help accelerate this shift in how the world grapples with the climate crisis by supporting the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty and grassroots movements in the Global South and North resisting fossil fuels to be part of this global call for a phase out and fair transition.

For more information visit the Bulb Foundation, Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty website and introduction video.

Climate Actions of the Biden Administration

By Michael Northrop, Rockefeller Brothers Fund

 

It took five years for President Obama to become a climate activist. It’s taken Joe Biden less than ten days. The array of executive actions, statements and staffing decisions he and his colleagues have announced is startling.  Among them are his commitment to net zero U.S. emissions by 2050; 100% zero carbon electricity in the U.S. by 2030; a pause on new oil and natural gas leases on public lands and offshore waters; direction to the Office of Management and Budget to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies from the fiscal year 2022 budget and thereafter; an end to U.S. public financing for international fossil fuel projects; and a commitment that the U.S. will work with international financial institutions, including the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund, to promote financing programs, economic stimulus packages, and debt relief initiatives that are aligned with and support the goals of the Paris Agreement.

In the Biden Administration’s January 27th Fact Sheet on President Bidens Executive Actions are a sprawling list of additional commitments including: establishing climate considerations as an essential element of U.S. foreign policy and national security; affirming the United States will exercise its leadership to promote a significant increase in global ambition; hosting a Leaders’ Climate Summit on Earth Day, April 22, 2021; reconvening the Major Economies Forum; installing former Secretary of State, John Kerry, as the new Special Presidential Envoy for Climate to press for enhanced climate ambition and integration of climate considerations across a wide range of international fora; initiating development of a revised United States’ nationally determined contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement; ordering the Director of National Intelligence to prepare a National Intelligence Estimate on the security implications of climate change; directing the State Department to prepare a transmittal package to the Senate for the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol; and mandating that all federal agencies develop strategies for integrating climate considerations into their international work.

In parallel, on the domestic front, President Biden has ordered creation of the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy to be led by former Environmental Protection Agency Chair Gina McCarthy to coordinate and implement the President’s domestic climate agenda. That same order establishes a new National Climate Task Force that will convene leaders from across 21 federal agencies and departments to enable an integrated all-of-government approach to combatting the climate crisis.

Especially notable among his domestic commitments are President Biden’s orders directing federal agencies to develop programs, policies, and activities to address the disproportionate health, environmental, economic, and climate impacts on environmental justice communities; exploring opportunities for farmers to benefit from land-based strategies for carbon sequestration; and making scientific evidence central to all future decision-making on climate change.

There’s a lot to work with here. There’s no doubt the Biden Administration is signaling strongly that it will take a leadership position internationally in encouraging national level and multilateral action.  Reading its executive orders and public statements, several important conclusions emerge. The U.S. government sees COP26 in Glasgow as a critical moment to take the next giant step on climate; that it very much wants a robust relationship with China on climate and is prepared to work constructively with China on climate change; that it wants to use the G7/G20 and other multilateral fora to drive ambitious decision-making; that it sees public and also private finance (more announcements coming) as critical levers to drive capital toward clean energy and away from fossil fuels, and that it is willing to work on reducing subsidies for dirty energy.  Given all this, it’s a good time to be thinking about what the most ambitious approaches are we can be supporting.  The outer limit of what is possible has expanded dramatically in the past two weeks.

The Italian G20 and sustainable development

By Prof. Enrico Giovannini, Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development & F20 Co-Chair

 

For the first time ever, Italy will host the G20 meeting in 2021. The task of leading this key forum of the world’s most advanced economies is always challenging, but this year it will be even more so, as the world is reeling from the damage inflicted by the Covid-19 pandemic and is struggling to find its footing to a recovery from the economic and social damage suffered. Italy will have to lead the global response to such a serious threat, while not forgetting of the other emergencies that we face: the climate crisis, growing inequalities among and within countries, and increasingly fragile institutions, both at the national and international levels, that limit the effectiveness, or even the possibility, of multilateral responses.

To respond to these challenges, the Italian Presidency proposed an agenda that rests upon three main pillars: People, Planet, Prosperity. This emphasizes the need to take care of people and the planet while ensuring a strong, inclusive and sustainable economic recovery. Furthermore, to tackle more directly the Covid-19 pandemic, the Italian Presidency and the European Commission will also jointly host the G20 Global Health Summit, to bring together the major stakeholders at national and international levels and to offer a coherent and effective response in a timely fashion.

In 2015 many of the ongoing trends and risks at the global level had been identified already. Poverty, inequalities, climate change, even global health crisis were seen as major risks to the ability of humanity to prosper in a sustainable way. For this reason, 193 UN member states signed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, composed by 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 Targets to build a pathway towards wellbeing for all within the planetary boundaries before irreparable damages had been wrought to our people. The 2030 Agenda, meant to mobilize governments, the private sector, civil society and individuals, was imagined to encompass economic, social, environmental and institutional sustainability, and to promote them equally throughout the world, with the ultimate goal of “leaving non one behind”. It was complemented, the same year, by the Paris Accords, setting the most ambitious climate goals ever.

Over the years, after initial reluctance, the 2030 Agenda has been increasingly mainstreamed into current policy by governments, corporations, civil society, and countless daily actions by individuals. As of 2019, the European Commission has made compliance with it a central goal, and the Italian Government has been following suit. In fact, the theme of the G20, “People, Planet, Prosperity”, incorporates three of the core tenets of the Agenda, the others being Peace and Partnership. The key elements of the 2030 Agenda and of its Goals are to be found all over the structure of the summit, and sustainability will be one of the key words for 2021.

In Italy, the importance of the 2030 Agenda was pioneered by civil society, which coalesced around the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development (ASviS). Founded in 2016, ASviS has nearly 300 full member organizations and 250 associate members, many of which are networks in their own right, and is the largest civil society coalition ever assembled. Associations representing social partners (businesses, trade unions and third sector associations); networks of civil society associations pursuing specific Goals (health, education, employment, environment quality, gender equality, etc.); associations of local public administrations; public and private universities and research centers; associations of stakeholders working in the fields of culture and information; foundations and networks of foundations; Italian organizations that are members of international networks dealing with the SDGs; these and many others are represented in ASviS, and take part in its regular activities, which are carried through 21 Working Groups on the SDGs and cross-cutting issues, which are composed by over 800 experts from the member organizations.

The Alliance regularly organizes awareness raising campaigns and events, such as its Festival, which hosts every year hundred of events over 17 days organized all over the country, and high-level events in which it presents policy analysis and statistical research on the 2030 Agenda, engaging with the government, local authorities and other important stakeholders. ASviS has been recognized as a unique organization in its field by the European Commission and the UN SDG Action Campaign. Through its daily updated website, social media and direct engagement, the Alliance constantly promotes the importance and the achievement of sustainability in Italy and at global level.

To help in the success of the 2021 G20 and to ensure that sustainability is the key theme also of its outputs, ASviS will collaborate with the Italian Presidency and key stakeholders. The Alliance will organize events to debate the most crucial issues, taking advantage of the fact that its Festival will take place shortly before the Heads of State and Government Summit at the end of October. ASviS will also monitor the progress of the available indicators for sustainability in G20 countries and collaborate with the Engagement Groups, to ensure that all aspects of the Summit are aligned with the 2030 Agenda.

In order to make sure to engage with all aspects of society, in 2020 ASviS created a new Working Group, to bring together Italy’s most prominent Foundations, many of whom were already supportive of the importance of achieving the 2030 Agenda. Thanks to this Working Group, ASviS will be able to support and integrate its activity with those of Foundations 20 (F20), the informal Engagement Group bringing together more than 65 foundations in the G20 context since 2017, with the objective of being part of the solution on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement. ASviS and F20, with the support of the member Foundations, will play a crucial role in advocating for the effective implementation of the SDGs being part of the Summit’s outcomes, and will prepare a High Leven Event, connected with one or two important official G20 ministerial or Sherpa meetings, to present its findings, collected in a dedicated Report.

The Decade of Delivery – is Philanthropy ready? 

By Sonia Medina, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation

 

The new year celebrations were muted, most of the world is still confined to their houses waiting for the arrival of the vaccination. But January 1st, 2021 marked the start of a new year and a decade, in which our work on climate change must be anything but muted.

The UN dubbed decade of delivery has begun. We must meet the climate emergency by halving global carbon emissions to keep open a reasonable chance of keeping temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees.

2020 was set to be a ‘super year’ for the climate, conservation and development movements as climate, SDG, and biodiversity agendas all came to the fore.  But the COVID-19 emergency sent shockwaves throughout the world. Summits were postponed, deadlines were missed, and governments became consumed by the public health crisis and economic shutdown.

As the world comes back together with an incredibly crowded calendar (and zoom calls galore), 2021 is shaping up to be a critical year for international climate politics. COP26 will be a defining moment for the Paris Agreement; the US will re-engage; and the UK and Italian COP co-hosts will host the G7 and G20 alike.

The good news is we’re not starting from scratch, despite COVID we saw serious increases in climate actions in 2020. The UK and EU have enhanced their Paris Commitments (55% and 68% cuts on 1990).  China, Japan, and South Korea all have net zero emission targets now, creating some serious pressure on their Pacific neighbour and climate pariah Australia.

But progress is far from assured and whilst COP26 will set the framework and ambition, real world emissions will be largely determined by decisions taken around economic recoveries and short-term climate plans. The UNEP estimated that a green pandemic recovery could cut up to 25% off emissions expected in 2030 prior to Covid-19. To date, this opportunity has largely been missed.

Recovery decisions taken at national, G7, G20 and other fora will have a significant impact on climate politics. UK COP President Alok Sharma said the recovery is “the golden thread of climate action” that must “weave through every international gathering next year”.

COP26 in Glasgow must preserve the integrity of the Paris Agreement and enhance national ambition. It needs to strengthen the voice and influence of vulnerable countries, ensure the delivery of the $100bn climate finance commitment and continue to super-charge non-state actors to generate momentum in the real economy.

In the run up to COP26 there is a need for philanthropy to invest in facilitating great collaboration and strategic alignment so the climate community can respond to shifting priorities, capitalise on new opportunities, and to head off new threats.  Foundations can:

  1. Join the Climate Emergency Collaboration Group (CECG): The CECG was created to enable funders and partners to collectively leverage key international moments to drive a step change in the global response to the climate emergency. This sort of philanthropic coordination hasn’t existed since Paris and it means we’ve not always been able to powerfully and effectively leverage the opportunities for impact that key international moments can offer.  Contact iain@climatecollaboration.org for more information.
  2. Support the testing of a Global Recovery Campaigning Network: CIFF is working with CECG and others to incubate a Global Recovery Network, designed to ramp up the effectiveness of recovery campaigning – which is currently failing to have sufficient political impact in key countries worldwide. The Network has identified three geopolitically important pilot countries (Brazil, Australia, South Africa) where we are confident that enhanced strategic campaigning has the potential to drive green, just recoveries in a way that will stimulate climate action and help neutralise opposition to ambitious outcomes from COP 26.
  3. Build capacity across the Global South: As countries focus on rebuilding their strained economic and social systems, it is essential to frame and develop responses to climate and biodiversity collapse in the context of development, justice and sustainable livelihoods. It is also essential for deep work between global north and global south-led climate finance think tanks and advocacy groups. With COP 27 set to take place in Africa, the newly launched Africa Climate Foundation will be one valuable philanthropic organisation looking at how to leverage the power of an international summit on African soil towards concrete wins on the climate and development agendas.
  4. Support the Climate Champions: Race to Zero was established to accelerate non-state actor responses to the climate emergency and deliver a 10x increase in net zero commitments by COP26. The Climate Champions will continue for subsequent COPs, which provide opportunities to leverage increased non-state action and leadership from new geographies and sectors to ensure that the tent of climate ambition continues to expand.
  5. Support Social Movements: In the last 4 years we’ve seen a surge in social movements. The youth climate movement has opened new political space for leadership. Much of our success in the last few years is down to the energy and drive of these movements. Historically philanthropy has struggled to support such movements, but that is changing and new re-granters like the Urban Movement Innovation Fund can help philanthropy connect to, align and strengthen social movements work.
  6. Invest in climate solutions – Less than 2% of global philanthropic giving is dedicated to climate change and we encourage everyone to do more. Organisations like Active Philanthropy can help funders put a climate lens across their portfolios and the Climate Leadership Initiative provides tailored guidance for philanthropists on high-impact solutions and giving opportunities to solve the climate crisis without charging for its services, fundraising for itself or pooling grant dollars.

 

So, 2021 can be the year where we sound the starting gun on greater climate action with a resounding bang, and there are some very tangible things that Philanthropy can do. From all of us here at CIFF, we hope you will join us.

Modi Mwatsama-1

The Climate and Health Nexus

By Modi Mwatsama, Wellcome Trust

Climate change is largely being driven by humans on the planet through actions which increase greenhouse gas emissions and destroy nature and natural carbon sinks such as rainforests. Among the major drivers of climate change, energy from burning fossil fuels accounts for 35% of global emissions, the food system accounts for 24% of emissions through agriculture and land-use change, and the transport sector accounts for 14% of emissions.

The climate change is driving human crises

We are already experiencing the consequences of global warming and without urgent action to halt this warming, things will get much worse. The consequences of global warming include rising sea levels, rainforests dying, lower agricultural yields in some regions and an increase in extreme weather events such as storms, floods and droughts. These climate-induced changes are in turn adversely impacting human health, health systems and welfare. For example, in 2018, 134 billion hours of labour were lost because of heat –  a rise than of 45 billion from 2000. In Pakistan, over 15 million people were affected by flooding in 2010. Six million of these people required urgent medical care, but the delivery of this care was hampered due to the destruction of over 200 health facilities. In 2019, drought-related food insecurity affected 14 million people in Africa.

Infectious diseases such as Covid-19 are becoming more common

Another example of the health-related consequences of climate change is a rise in emerging infectious diseases. Around 60% of these emerging conditions are zoonotic diseases which spread from animals to humans, such as bird flu. In addition to contributing to climate change through carbon-emissions, the food system is also an important direct source of these zoonotic diseases.  Clearing land to grow feed and raise livestock destroys natural habitats and brings wildlife into closer contact with humans, leading to a rise in zoonotic diseases. The first cases of Covid-19 were linked to a wildlife and livestock market, repeating a pattern observed for other recent zoonotic diseases such as swine flu, bird flu and SARS.

The poor and vulnerable are most affected by climate change

In all countries, the impacts of Covid-19 have disproportionately fallen on the poor and communities who are most at risk of suffering from the impacts of climate change. Examples of Covid-19’s disproportionate impact on the poor and vulnerable around the world during 2020 include:

  • Lost labour income is forecast to increase relative poverty by 56% among informal workers and their families in lower- and low-income countries
  • An additional 130 million people could face acute food insecurity as a result of retail price hikes and reduced incomes. This would mean that food insecurity would double compared to pre-crisis levels
  • In the UK women in the most deprived areas are 133% more likely to die from COVID-19 than those in the least deprived areas. Contributing factors include a higher prevalence of diet-related conditions such as hypertension and obesity, overcrowded housing conditions and occupations which increase exposure to the virus.

Nature-based solutions can help to tackle climate change and improve human health

Nature-based solutions to societal change have been defined as solutions that are “inspired and supported by nature, which simultaneously provide environmental, social and economic benefits and help build resilience.” These approaches can offer sustainable solutions to cope with climate change mitigation and adaptation challenges, while improving outcomes across multiple dimensions of health and generating economic benefits from reduced health and environmental costs. Examples of the co-benefits of nature-based solutions across different sectors are provided in Table 1. In summary, these include:

  • Nature-based ecosystem services can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to conserve and expand carbon sinks in support of climate mitigation e.g. through protecting forests.
  • The ecosystem services that are necessary for human life are preserved and help to reduce the negative effects of climate change e.g. protecting coastal wetlands reduces the risk of flooding.
  • Protecting important ecosystem services enhances their resilience and wider benefits.
  • Nature based eco-system services can provide diverse co-benefits for health. On the mitigation side, the largest co-benefits arise from reduced risk of non-communicable diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, from changes such as increased physical activity and reduced air pollution.
  • Co-benefits on the adaptation side include reduced risk of infectious diseases including water-borne pathogens and zoonotic diseases such as Covid19, due to improved land and water-management.

Table 1: Examples of nature-based solutions which can deliver for both climate change and human health objectives

Sector Example solution Co-benefits of impacts
Climate and ecosystem services Health impacts
City planning and housing Urban green spaces such as parks, green roofs and walls and street trees Green spaces can help to absorb carbon emissions; they can also help to reduce the risk of flooding and provide shade and heat absorption to minimise the impacts of heatwaves Help to improve the aesthetics and quality of cities for residents. Access to green spaces and nature is linked to improvements in mental health
Transport Active transport infrastructure such as bicycle routes which reduce car use Providing infrastructure for active travel as an alternative to car use, means less land is used for roads and available for nature and the provision of ecosystem services. This can also help to lower emissions as a result of reduced car use Increased physical activity from active travel helps to reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes and is also linked to improvements in mental health.

Improved air quality reduces levels of respiratory and other NCDs

Water management and land-use Integrating the protection of coastal wetlands such as tidal flats, mangrove forests in water-management and flood plans Provide protection against coastal erosion, help to absorb carbon emissions, and enhance biodiversity of plant and animal species – thereby building resilience. Protect against adverse impacts on human health and health systems which arise from flooding e.g. water-borne diseases, food insecurity, arising from loss of food crops and livelihoods.

Sources include Ecologic and WHO.

However, despite the potential benefits, a number of potential challenges and barriers to action hamper the adoption of nature-based solutions, including:

  1. The term nature-based solutions is not widely used outside of the environment community e.g. among health actors, and is also contested, minimising the likelihood of adoption.
  2. As the costs and benefits of nature-based solutions are often borne and accrued in different sectors, this can serve as a barrier to investments in the case where budgets and objectives are not co-owned.
  3. More integrated evidence is needed on the cost-effectiveness and co-benefits of nature-based solutions across multiple dimensions of health, climate change and nature.

Recommendations for G20 countries and stakeholders

The year 2021 will be significant for raising global ambitions and commitments towards tackling climate change, protecting nature and promoting human health. Major UN meetings including the climate COP26, biodiversity COP15 and UN food summit will review progress and set the agenda for action over the next 5 to 10 years. G20 nations, and allied stakeholders such as the Foundations Platform F20 will be critical to achieving these commitments as they account for 78% of global emissions. Key actions they should take to support to drive integrated solutions for climate, nature and health include:

  1. Raise awareness among policy makers, the public and other stakeholders of the links between climate change, nature and human health and the co-benefits of nature-based solutions.
  2. Promote cross-sector collaboration and solutions through joint funding and accountability mechanisms such as shared targets and goals
  3. Apply true cost accounting to the development, monitoring and evaluation policies, products and services, in order to enhance the benefits as well as minimize harmful externalities across multiple environment, health, social and economic dimensions.
  4. Ensure coherence and alignment of public and private sector financial investments, including taxes and subsidies across health and environment goals.
Ruth Richardson-1

The Climate and Food Nexus

By Ruth Richardson, The Global Alliance for the Future of Food

With the recent publication of the IPBES Pandemics Report, which showcased how the same global environmental changes that drive biodiversity loss and climate change also drive pandemics, the case for systemic change has never been clearer. World leaders can no longer deny the deep links between industrialized agricultural land use, habitat loss, and risks to public health.  COVID-19 has reinforced understanding of the interdependence of ecological, animal, and human health by revealing what happens when we break down the natural barriers between animal and human populations.

Now, as momentum gathers towards key political processes in 2021, like the 47th session of the Committee on World Food Security, the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), and the UN Food Systems Summit, we have an opportunity to catalyze bold transformative change in our food systems, with significant consequences for social, environmental, and economic justice and sustainability.

Transforming a system, especially one resistant to change, is daunting but it’s not impossible.

As a first step, as discussed in the Nexus panel at the F20 Climate Solutions Week this year, we have to start actively countering the pervasive narratives that dominate and shape how our food systems operate. Today, the “feed the world” or “productivist” narrative — that prioritizes yield over calories and creates the idea that there isn’t sufficient food for everyone to be well-fed — is fundamentally flawed and enables industrialized food systems to continue to operate beyond planetary boundaries. That food insecurity exists points not to a lack of food but to systemic failure in the way we grow, process, distribute, market, eat, and dispose of food with a disregard for equity and meeting basic human needs.

Resilient, equitable, and diverse food systems that coexist in harmony with the planet already exist. But, the transformative change involved in making these systems available to all must be accelerated. For those of us in philanthropy, especially those funders and donors focused on climate, we have a privilege and the responsibility to act now. In addition to championing a new and inspirational narrative that calls for human, animal, and ecological health to be put at the heart of our food systems, financial flows must be redirected away from harmful actors and practices and towards radical food systems transformation.

In the summer of this year, a report co-developed by Biovision, IPES-Food, and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), showed that philanthropic funders and governments, both in developing and developed countries, still favour ‘green revolution’ approaches, with the belief that industrial agriculture is the only way to produce sufficient food. The Money Flows report revealed that 63% of the flows tracked are focused on reinforcing and tweaking existing systems, in other words maintaining the status quo. This is not sufficient and this can’t continue.

Ultimately, we have enough evidence and the tools we need to make change happen. The global coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has been a terrible wake-up call and we don’t need another one. It has revealed our deepest vulnerabilities, compounded existing inequalities, and highlighted the fragility and interconnectedness of human, animal, and ecosystem health.

We must urgently re-imagine and re-build more equitable, resilient, and sustainable food systems so that we: minimize the potential negative impacts like increasing greenhouse gas emissions to exacerbating rates of non-communicable diseases; and, at the same time, strengthen our food systems’ resilience to shocks, whether extreme weather events, climate change, migration, sea-level rise and, of course, another pandemic. The time is now.

Register today for the webinar ‘Climate & the Future of Food: Priority Actions for Systems Transformation’ on 17 November 2020 @ 11am GMT. Hosted by the Global Alliance for the Future of Food and Salzburg Global Seminar as part of the UNFCCC Race to Zero Dialogues, the webinar will be delivered in English, supported by live translation in the 5 UN languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, Spanish. Link: http://ow.ly/C4QU50BZueN

Reshaping Climate Philanthropy for the Better in the Age of COVID-19

By the Growald Familiy Fund

As the initial shock of COVID-19 turns to acceptance of a changed world, philanthropies face critical decisions about how their funding will work going forward. For climate philanthropy, this new phase requires us to reevaluate and strengthen our approach to tackling the climate crisis while recognizing we are in the midst of a humanitarian and economic crisis.

COVID-19 has created an extraordinary moment of global disruption. For our foundation and our community of climate philanthropists, it has required reflection, both deeply and quickly, on what this means for our work.

We have needed to, and will need to, respond in three phases.

The first phase is the crisis phase, which in many places we are still in. For the Growald Family Fund and our philanthropic colleagues, this has required an immediate focus on the well-being of our team, our grantees, and the communities that we and they work and live in. During this phase, we have reached out to our partners and the NGOs we support to see if there were ways we could support their technical needs to facilitate telecommuting, reassured them that we are flexible with reporting requirements, and encouraged creativity in their approach. We wanted to listen first to the field, and the message was clear:

  1. Our grantees were concerned about their teams and communities – their mental and physical health, the shift to working from home, and the need to care for children and loved ones.  For those working in vulnerable communities, work shifted to care and support for the affected people.
  2. They were worried about financial stability. While the economy has been dealt a major blow, they worried about losing grant support. We heard that community groups would face increased and unexpected costs from COVID community support, from moving to home offices, from event cancellations. Grantees were concerned that funding would be cut because they were unable to meet their agreed upon deliverables and also that foundations would cut back on spending for endowment protection, as they experienced in the 2008 financial crisis. These concerns were even more present for grantees from the global South who have less financial resilience.
  3. They were immediately rethinking and retooling their strategies.

Our response was equally clear. We immediately reassured grantees that their funding was not threatened, that they can apply for support for additional costs, and that we encouraged them to care for themselves and their communities first.  At the same time we also encouraged them to think creatively.

The second phase is the one which we find ourselves entering, which is the stimulus phase where philanthropy has a key role to play in addition to the stimulus being provided by governments. This is where we lay the groundwork for an eventual recovery from this crisis. While for many communities and families it is impossible to think about this next phase as they are still in the middle of crisis, governments and companies are taking action now. As philanthropy and civil society, we have also a responsibility to think of our role in stimulus. As Rebecca Solnit wrote in her account of responses to recent disasters, A Paradise Built in Hell, “we cannot welcome disaster, but we can value the responses, both practical and psychological.”

While climate may be far from the minds of many, it is important for climate funders to continue to act, particularly in ways which create intersectional solutions. For example, a recent Harvard study highlighted that air pollution exacerbates the health impacts of COVID-19. At the same time, cities around the world are seeing clear air. In Northern India, for example, many residents are seeing the Himalayas the first time in their lives as a result of improved air quality, reigniting a discussion in the country about air pollution. Could this result in the desire for a permanent solution? Philanthropy can play a role here in supporting analysts and civil society organizations supporting clean air solutions.

At the same time we are seeing how the financial crisis is wreaking havoc on fossil fuel companies. As Carbon Tracker writes in their recent analysis, “COVID-19 has the potential to be the midwife of the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables.” The fossil fuel industry was suffering financially before the crisis, with over 40% of the global coal fleet already cash-flow negative. As governments invest in economic recovery, they face a choice about investing in the energy choices of the past, or investing in the future: a clean energy economy that supports local job creation, clean air, and cheaper, more resilient energy choices.

As philanthropists, we have an important role to play in this phase. Most importantly, we must support our grantees as they develop new strategies and responses to the conditions in their communities. Providing flexible support to groups, particularly those based in vulnerable communities, will enable solutions that meet the specific political, economic and cultural realities. Their voices are best placed to shape and reorient their government fiscal policies, economic recovery responses, and shifting overseas investments. We can also support visionaries who are shaping the narrative of the change that is possible, and the science and analysis underpinning this vision.

This phase of philanthropic stimulus is one where we must heed the call to action. For those foundations that can increase their giving, this is a time when it can provide outsized impact to address these multiple crises. Through stable or even increased giving, we can:

  • Ensure the stability of the organizational partners we count on. Nonprofits are job creators themselves, and we can help ensure a resilient nonprofit sector is a vital part of the recovery. This means not only keeping funding stable, but also potentially using this opportunity to invest in increased capability and capacity of grantees through training where possible. These investments will help organizations navigate both the health and climate crises we face.
  • Improve our philanthropic practices. By increasing the flexibility of our grants, being creative with due diligence and reporting, and signalling an appetite for creativity we can end up being better partners in the long run.
  • Support intersectional approaches. While we are climate funders, it has been clear for some time that issues of human rights, social justice and structural economics are critically linked. These connections are more important than ever, so we will be opening up our grantmaking to consider unusual partners from different sectors.
  • Support innovation. At Growald Family Fund, we use a venture philanthropy approach, so we are accustomed to supporting start-up organizations and seeding new ideas or approaches. We are doubling down on this, as we see this moment as the critical moment for innovative ideas for change. The status quo has been disrupted. It is time for bold ideas about how to emerge from this crisis with vision.

Acting boldly is a risk, and there is much we don’t know at this point so our approach may change over time. But we are acting now in the hope that we can care for those suffering right now while laying the groundwork for a more resilient society. We can care for our own communities while caring and connecting with communities around the world. We can hold the complexity of the COVID-19 crisis and the climate crisis and the connection with social justice issues. We can do this by acting together, by listening and collaborating and daring to be hopeful.

Covid-19 crisis: Changemakers from the World Future Council urge global leaders to develop a just and resilient world  

By Alexandra Wandel, World Future Council Foundation

Representatives of the World Future Council from all continents have signed a letter to world leaders in which they outline recommendations and calls for immediate targeted actions required to rebuild a resilient and just world now and after the Covid-19 pandemic. The coronavirus pandemic shows how fragile the current international system is and that common, global solutions to this challenge are needed. They are urging the need for a strong and efficient multilateral system, global leadership, collective action, and shared responsibilities in support of current and future generations.

Out of deep respect for life on earth, the World Future Council Members urge to address the planet’s interconnected crises, ensure resilience for the long-term, and to act urgently to implement far reaching, appropriate measures. Ensuring the right to health for all, providing financial and investment relief, creating decent and sustainable jobs, securing children’s rights, empowering and protecting women and girls, valuing health workers, caretakers and service providers, respecting nature and its life cycles, accelerating action on climate change, and enhancing effective global cooperation are the demands the Council is making.

The letter was submitted to heads of UN agencies and Heads of States on 8 May 2020. Among the recommendations to “build back better” after Covid-19 are the significant reduction of developing countries’ foreign debt. They also call for the reduction of military budgets to release funds for public health and sustainable development.

“Viruses know no boundaries. We therefore demand long-term global action today to build resilience for the future! We need to be mindful of the links between human health, planetary health and the destruction of our ecosystems.” says signatory Helmy Abouleish, CEO of SEKEM, Egypt.

“Governments are now working to build the world after the pandemic. This is an opportunity to create more resilient economies. Economic stimulus packages must therefore prioritise green technologies such as renewable energy and agroecology, in line with the Paris agreement of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees”, says Dr. Tony Colman, Climate Change Researcher and former UK MP.

Immediate targeted actions recommended include:

  • Creating decent and sustainable jobs
    National governments as well as international economic and financial stimulus and recovery packages should secure millions of decent jobs, specifically for young women and men who are affected most by the crisis and enhance green new deals. COVID-19 measures should support sustainable, fair economies and disseminate green technologies such as renewable energy and agroecology. This requires to « build back better » with a new economy that addresses inequalities and that is more resilient, greener, healthier and safer for all. Economic stimulus packages must support meeting the Paris goal of limiting climate change to 1.5 degrees.
  • Respecting nature and its life cycles
    In order to prevent future pandemics policymakers need to recognise the links between human health, infectious diseases, destruction of our ecosystems and planetary health. Every country must do its part to develop and implement comprehensive legislation to further sustainable energy and agroecological practices, protect animal welfare, ban wildlife sales, protect wildlife and ban trafficking of wildlife across borders. Markets for live animals need to be studied to address the disease vectors. Policymakers need to fight corruption that allows these activities to continue even when they are banned or illegal. They also need to protect and restore ecosystems, protect biodiversity and work towards an increase of protected areas on land and sea, as well as a substantial worldwide increase in forest cover, including through afforestation and reforestation, in order to ensure living organisms in the biosphere have the needed space without human interference. Actions addressed above should be integrated in the 2020/2021 meetings of the UN, the UN Biodiversity Summit and the World Food Systems Summit.
  • Accelerating action on climate change
    Addressing the COVID-19 crisis cannot come at the expense of solving the climate crisis: Governments need to continue developing rapid and far-reaching decarbonization of our energy and food systems by producing clean energy and implementing energy efficiency measures in the consumption. Governments must set domestic 100% renewable energy targets to keep fossil fuels underground and unleash investments to scale up across all sectors, including power generation, mobility, heating, cooling and cooking. We need to mitigate climate change through agroecology and sustainable forests. Investments should be redirected from subsidizing fossil fuels towards meeting the Paris Climate Agreement Goals. Action addressed above should be reinforced at the next UN Climate Summit.

Among the signatories are Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly, Ecuador, Prof. Dr. Michael Otto, Chair of the Advisory Group of the Otto Group, Germany, Hafsat Abiola, President, Women in Africa Initiative, Nigeria, Olivier Giscard d’Estaing, Chairman, INSEAD Foundation, France and Dr. Ashok Khosla, Chairman, Development Alternatives, India and representatives from 24 countries.

“This is a turning point for humankind, and it is our duty to rebuild our world in a way that safeguards life on earth. This is why determined, strong and immediate global action is key to build back our world in a way that respects people and planet” says Alexandra Wandel, Executive Chair of the World Future Council.

The World Future Council is composed of 50 eminent persons from around the world and was founded in 2007. We work with policy makers to bring the interests of present and future generations to the centre of policy-making, promoting the spread of future just policies across the world. We call for the international community to support and bolster the work of the United Nations and to implement commitments such as  Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement, while promoting far more rigorous measures which are desperately needed to counter the global threats we face.

The statement is available here.

 

Contact
Alexandra Wandel
Chair, Management Board
World Future Council
alw@worldfuturecouncil.org

Energy Access and Health Services

By Huda Jaffer, Selco Foundation

Access to basic health services is a fundamental right for any citizen in any part of the planet. But that is not the case for people living in poorer parts of the world. Inefficiencies of delivery models, higher transaction costs, lack of skilled human resources etc. are some of the challenges that have prevented reliable delivery of health services. Simple services like diagnostics or hygienic methods of maternal deliveries are a luxury for most of the populations.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the non-inclusivity of health services to the poor; be it in the developed or the developing world. The primary focus of the health sector has moved away from being ‘end-user’ centric to being ‘economic’ centric. Most of the stakeholders have encouraged the health eco-system to become a product-based rather than a need-based model. Manufacturers focus innovation on creating sophisticated medical equipment, with value-added features, rather than on technology that can reach the masses in low resource settings, which further pushes a centralized healthcare model. The poor limit their choices of availing health services based on income levels and insurance. Availability of human resources and corresponding skill sets depend on the availability of financial resources in a selected area. Health, a basic service, has become selective and exclusive.

The poorer populations in Asia and Africa, remain poor primarily because of non-availability of critical health services at the time of need. According to the World Economic Forum:

An estimated 400 million people in the world lack access to basic health services, while millions are pushed into extreme poverty each year because of out-of-pocket healthcare costs. The burden of this lack of universal health coverage (UHC) is largely placed on Africa and Asia, where 97% of the population are impoverished by out-of-pocket health spending. These regions have the fastest increase in populations facing catastrophic health expenditures (defined as having to spend 30% or more on health products and services). In Africa, an estimated 11 million people fall into poverty every year through using their household income to access healthcare services, medicines and products.”

The pandemic has forced stakeholders to question existing models of delivering essential services like health and education. Centralization of these services has led to disastrous consequences as observed even in countries like Unites States and Italy.

Providing reliable health services is a powerful tool to get people out of poverty. Sustainable Energies combined with efficiencies of health technologies can be one of the most critical components of democratizing the delivery of health around the world.  However, it is also naively assumed that simple access to energy itself can catalyze appropriate health services. Similar presumptions could lead to more expensive solutions that then hinders the replication of the delivery models.

As in the case of electricity sector, decentralized energies like solar have disrupted and can further disrupt the delivery models making it available in a more modular form and thus making it affordable at multiple levels. Availability of sustainable energies in a decentralized mode also pushes innovations in health technologies, pushes for increase in efficiencies of medical devices and gives rise to newer delivery models for last mile populations. Sustainable energies for healthcare centers in poorer countries and contexts is a critical catalyst given any chance of meeting health and allied SDGs within the 2030 mark.

Many of the challenges plaguing the health sector around the world can be solved. Highly efficient medical equipment designed for low resources, both energy and availability of skilled human resources, overcome the challenges of poor equipment and skill set. These equipment’s can be powered by solar energies in the areas of operation, irrespective how remote or dense the local populations are. Locally trained personal can handle many of the issues, in addition to remote consultation from expert doctors around the country. Solar powered vaccine refrigerators will ensure the long-term quality of critical medicines. Well-designed public health centers run on solar, saves governments with expensive energy bills, while helping them meet their stated goal of providing universal health care.

Sierra Leone, for instance, a country of six million population, has less than 150 doctors and has the highest mortality rate in the world. An eco-system approach that creates a nexus between health and sustainable energy could be one-way Sierra Leone can begin to reverse its current health status ranking. Highly efficient baby warmers, low power shadow less lights for operation theaters, solar powered cooled maternal rooms etc. are some of the equipment’s that previously being unavailable for the poor can now be accessible and affordable. Utilization of internet technologies will further lead to robustness of the health system.

Sustainable energies and health services should no longer be considered as a luxury. One needs to move away from man-made boundaries and view health service as something that we need for betterment of mankind – rich, poor, developed or in underdeveloped nations. One can surely calculate the cost of putting one solar powered maternal room in Sierra Leone, but can it be calculated for every woman, who is losing her life because of non-availability of health service at the doorstep. The woman might have a Sierra Leonese citizenship, but she is also a citizen of the world. In the 21st century, it is unfathomable to imagine people are losing their lives because man-made factors prevent everyone from availing it. Time has come to democratize healthcare at the doorstep of the poor and sustainable energy is a powerful tool in making that a reality.

Save-the-Date: F20 events in Saudi Arabia before the G20 summit 2020

By the F20 Head Office

We are pleased to invite you to the 4th High-Level Forum of the Foundations 20 Platform on September 14th and the Sustainable Finance Forum on September 13th in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We are currently planning a hybrid event taking place in Riyadh, allowing speakers and audience to participate online if travel restrictions are still in place. However, we are optimistic and looking forward to welcome you either way to both events. Ultimately, the format of our events will depend on how the situation evolves during the upcoming months.

Due to the COIVD-19 crisis, we will also address the question of how to make our societies more resilient. This will also include the aligning of financial stimulus packages with criteria for sustainable finance to ensure that any investment made to recover from this crisis  contributes to a better recovery and a sustainability transformation.

High-Level Forum on September 14th in Riyadh

With this event, co-hosted by the F20 partner in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the King Khalid Foundation (KKF), the Foundations Platform provides a forum to discuss and determine the most pressing challenges for the G20 summit in Riyadh in November.

The event will include high-level representatives from business, civil society, foundations and academia to discuss opportunities of the 2030 Agenda as well as concrete solutions for the next decade.

Under the title of “Realising Opportunities of the 2030 Agenda: A Decade of Action for the G20 on Climate and Sustainability!” foundations emphasize the responsibility of the G20 countries to deliver on the global goals and to take action on the world’s biggest challenges such as poverty, gender equality or climate change. The G20 therefore have to lead on bridging the gap in climate finance and the implementation of the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs).

The F20 Forum will consist of keynotes from diverse international and regional experts and the three following panels:

  • The Keynotes Panel – keynote speakers discuss the responsibility of G20 countries for implementing the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement
  • The Solutions Panel – experts highlight solutions to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and sustainable development
  • The Engagement Groups Panel – the G20 engagement groups discuss the implementation of the Paris Agreement and 2030 Agenda and express their expectations on the G20 Process

Sustainable Finance Forum on September 13th in Riyadh

With this forum we seek to discuss and determine the most pressing questions around sustainable finance and impact investing. The Sustainable Finance Forum is hosted by the Foundations 20 platform and the King Khalid Foundation, co-hosted by the BMW Foundation and the German Environmental Foundation (DBU).  

We will continue to build the momentum for investments to redirect financial flows into pathways that are compatible with the Paris Agreement and SDGs. The agenda is focusing on the importance of sustainable finance and impact investment in the philanthropy sector and the integration of green finance components at different government levels. We seek to empower foundations in their role as asset owner and strengthen the advocacy work towards policy makers.

Keynotes, commentaries and an open moderated roundtable discussion, will be complemented by three break-out sessions to deepen the discussion and to establish a dialogue among the participants. The breakout session will follow three thematic blocs:

  • Breakout session 1: Making the case of Public Green Finance
  • Breakout session 2: Impact Investment – Foundations as asset owners
  • Breakout session 3: The Future of Divest/Invest

We are looking forward to welcoming you and will keep you posted about the outline and format.

Global Corona crisis: The only way out is through the way into sustainability

By Stefan Schurig, F20 Secretary General

Humankind is faced with an unprecedented global crisis and it isn’t over until we draw the right conclusions and stop repeating the failures of the past. Governments around the world are trying to prepare for the worst impacts yet to come by rapidly ramping up hospital capacities, medical aid and strict orders on ‘physical distancing’. And while many countries are amid managing acute symptoms of the crisis, legislators are also working on economic stimulus packages to avoid a collapse of the national – and global – economy. Because of locked down cities and communities hundreds of thousands of people are losing their jobs and essentially their basis of their existence. They need back-ups on all levels. We are indeed experiencing an attempt to exhibit political leadership of all kinds and to some of us this crisis may actually be serving as a good reminder of how important a functioning public sector is – especially in times of crisis.

Stimulus packages are indispensable – but they need to be based on sustainability and climate action unless we intend to repeat our failures of the past.

If we want to cope with the massive impacts on our economy, I think it bears mentioning though, that economic stimulus packages are completely pointless unless they are based on the premises of sustainability and incentivise higher ambition for climate action. The crisis offers the opportunity to turn the switches for sustainable transformation, including long-term changes to our economic, social and political systems. Otherwise, any stimulus will most probably be ineffective in the mid- and long-term perspective and propelling next global crisis. Be it due to immense environmental pollution, massive distinction of biodiversity leading to grave impacts on the global food production, water shortage, energy crisis, extreme weather events or everything combined.

While the origin of the Corona pandemic still has to be further investigated it’s obvious that the global spread of the virus is rooted in the way industrialised countries live and consume. In addition to that, the numbers of worrying courses of the diseases including the painfully growing numbers of deaths cannot be understood without the impacts of pollution.

A wake-up call

As George Monbiot, columnist of the Guardian, describes it in his recent article ‘The coronavirus pandemic is a wake-up call’:  “We have been living in a bubble, a bubble of false comfort and denial. In the rich nations, we have begun to believe we have transcended the material world. The wealth we’ve accumulated – often at the expense of others – has shielded us from reality. Living behind screens, passing between capsules – our houses, cars, offices and shopping malls – we persuaded ourselves that contingency had retreated, that we had reached the point all civilisations seek: insulation from natural hazards.“

The main lesson here really is that this bubble has burst. We should not be trying to go back to square one prior the corona outbreak and think we can simply restart the engine. Far from it. Instead, we all – especially the G20 countries – should be focusing on making our societies more resilient to these kinds of global challenges. Obviously, the key to resilience is not by artificially sustaining a destructive system but by stabilising the environment, reducing pollution levels, deploying a regenerative agriculture and renewable energy system. Only then can we stop the collapse of our ecosystems, ensuring our food supply and by doing everything in our hands to stabilise the sensitive climate systems.

We know what’s at stake and what we have to do and what not to. The broad consensus among scientists around the world allows crystal clear conclusions. The Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement provide very clear guidance for future investments into new infrastructures or new power plants. Any governmental action to stimulate our economy therefore must be first and foremost based on these goals. We can no longer accept governmental decisions suggesting a trajectory that clearly conflicts with what a resilient society and a healthy – in fact sustainable economy – would entail.

There are already a number of positive signals – even prior the Corona crisis many countries indicated their intention to submit an enhanced climate action plan to the UNFCCC and numerous regions and cities are already working to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050. The European Union presented a European Green Deal at the COP 25 including its commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050 while ensuring a just transition. And several bold divestment decisions made the round, including the announcement of the European Investment Bank (EIB), the world’s largest public bank to divest from coal, oil and gas. And even the Central Banks and the new Network of Central Banks and Supervisors for Greening the Financial System (NGFS) agreed to be tackling the financial risk of climate change as part of their mandate.

There are also a number of rather encouraging news from the private financial sector: The CEO of Allianz SE introduced a new UN supported climate alliance – the so-called Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance – consisting of the world’s largest pension funds and insurers, together with the Finance Initiative of the United Nations Environment (UNEP FI) and many other institutions. And Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO of Blackrock, world’s largest asset manager, publicly stated that “Climate Change has become a defining factor in companies’ long-term prospects”. In a letter to CEOs he describes that the world is “on the edge of fundamental reshaping of finance” as “trillions of dollars shift to millennials over the next few decades, as they become CEOs and CIOs, as they become the policymakers and heads of state, they will further reshape the world’s approach to sustainability.“

It really is important that managing the Corona crisis doesn’t slow these developments down but accelerates them!

The good news in these surreal days and weeks is that the concept of green stimulus packages gains massive momentum while I’m writing this editorial. Globally all kinds of stakeholders from quite diverse backgrounds are calling upon government to ensure stimulus packages are aligned with true sustainability guidelines:

In mid-March, the Foundations Platform F20 issued an open letter by German philanthropists to the President of the European Union, Ursula von der Leyen calling for a more determined approach to the European Green Deal, while also making it the basis for stimulus packages that are currently put in place to combat the Corona crisis. The signatories consider the direction taken by the EU Commission to be “necessary and correct”, yet in their appeal to the Commission President and Vice President Frans Timmermans, however, they expect Brussels to increase ambitions in terms of climate protection, international cooperation and climate finance.

“The year 2020 is central to international climate protection in order to counteract global warming that can no longer be contained. It is necessary to act much faster and more powerful. The opportunity must now be seized to close the glaring gap between the goals of the Paris Agreement (with the <2° Celsius limit) and the contributions available so far. This must also form the basis of the EU’s announced economic stimulus programs in response to the global corona crisis,“ says Klaus Milke, chairman of the Stiftung Zukunftsfähigkeit (Foundation for Sustainability) and chair of the F20 platform.

The signatories include Prof. Dr. Michael Otto, Founder, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Environmental Foundation Michael Otto, Prof. Dr. Joachim Rogall, Chairman of the Board, Robert Bosch Stiftung, Dr. Michael Schaefer, Chairman, BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt, Dr. Michael Schmidt, Founding family Karl Schmidt, Hansjörg Wyss, Founder, Wyss Foundation or Dr. Felicitas von Peter, Chair, Forum for Active Philanthropy.

In the US, a similar initiative just took off called ‘A green stimulus to rebuild our economy’. Their open letter to the congress suggesting a very detailed list of actions and it starts with the notion that the US faces three converging crises: 1) the COVID19 pandemic and the resulting economic recession; 2) the climate emergency; and 3) extreme inequality. “We need immediate and sustained intervention to protect people’s health and economic well-being, with a special focus on the most vulnerable. We must also begin planning our economic recovery in a way that protects us from the impact of climate change and lifts up workers and frontline communities. “

Even senior representatives of global institutions who are usually not suspected to speak much in favor of strict sustainability pathways feel encouraged to issue very clear statements. “Governments are drawing up stimulus plans to counter the economic damage from coronavirus,” said Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency. “These stimulus packages offer an excellent opportunity to ensure that the essential task of building a secure and sustainable energy future doesn’t get lost amid the flurry of immediate priorities.”[1]

As the author, Yuval Noah Harari put it in a most recent Financial Times Article: „The decisions people and governments take in the next few weeks will probably shape the world for years to come. They will shape not just our healthcare systems but also our economy, politics and culture. We must act quickly and decisively. We should also take into account the long-term consequences of our actions. When choosing between alternatives, we should ask ourselves not only how to overcome the immediate threat, but also what kind of world we will inhabit once the storm passes. Yes, the storm will pass, humankind will survive, most of us will still be alive — but we will inhabit a different world.“

 

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/24/covid-19-economic-rescue-plans-must-be-green-say-environmentalists

A Whole-of-Community Approach for our New Decade of Action

by Osamah Alhenaki, King Khalid Foundation

The major issues of today’s time are without borders, they touch every one of us in developed and developing countries around the world. Climate change, pandemics, and corruption – to name a few – are common challenges that leave no country unaffected. Such complex and pressing challenges are not going to be addressed adequately by a single nation or continent. It is shared solutions that are solely capable of tackling shared challenges. For that, the world looks around these days for effective multilateral cooperation and dialogues to enable such a unifying force.

Notwithstanding, when governments come around to design their collective actions, they would most certainly fall short from reaching a comprehensive response that can create the needed momentum, pace, or successful implementation for such global-scale problems without engaging in wider consultations, buy-in, and mobilization of other non-state actors. A long-standing emphasis on Whole-of-Government approaches has shown ineffective in the face of rapidly growing challenges like COVID-19. We are realizing now, as the new decade enters, that a Whole-of-Society approach is the superior alternative. Stakeholders, and especially underrepresented voices and causes, like workers, women, SMEs, youth, impacted communities, NGOs, researchers, citizens and households, philanthropy, journalists, and academia are key contributors to the successful response to any emerging global challenge. Without wider engagement and collaboration with development partners, we would never be able to achieve any action item in our quest for a Decade of Action to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

The first quarter of this year has remarkably demonstrated the magnitude of potential global calamities humanity would face that threaten our peace, stability, and public health. Geopolitical risks are increasingly disrupting the global supply chains and livelihoods, weak health systems are failing to respond resiliently to a spike in demand spurred by outbreaks, and the global economy seems to be in a fragile state of a weakening recovery. These imminent threats are only what we can see before our eyes, and were found newsworthy by the global media. Beyond the hysteria of today’s bleak moments, many more challenges are actually worsening in silence. Biodiversity loss is increasing, inequality is mounting, and to this day, many children go to bed hungry or wake up without access to quality education or proper healthcare. Such challenges would make us feel hopeless or helpless, but we ought to use them as an inspiring call for a coordinated global action; for a New Decade of a Whole-of-Communities Action.

On this very year, we should aspire to bring development partners together to recognize the urgent need for an increased ambition in climate action, an increased commitment to building resilient global pandemic preparedness, to stop neglecting tropical diseases, and put an increased attention to the needs of the Global South and developing countries who are being left behind. I have seen this urgency felt in the community of foundations and NGOs that I have the honor to work with this year as the G20 comes for the first time to the MENA region. Global citizens are coming together to discuss the course of action needed from the G20 to live up to the hopes of our global community. The decisions made at the G20 table, are going to spillover in impact to every corner of this world. That is the exact reason why civil society is coming together to hold G20 governments accountable, point out policy gaps, who is being left behind, and where can we learn from evidence-based policy design in informing the G20 outcomes.

I have been closely following the G20 process for the past few years, but I have been heavily invested in keeping up with the G20 priorities and policy developments since Saudi Arabia assumed its presidency. This year, the King Khalid Foundation has been serving as a host organization for civil society and foundations (both at the C20 and F20) to engage with the G20, and channel the expert policy opinions of our global partners to the G20 debates. In this humbling convening capacity, I can highlight few interesting areas that we should be monitoring and addressing this year:

  • The digital economy is questioning the basis of our international taxation system that has evolved around the assumption of “physical presence” where “digital companies” are benefiting from a norm that unfairly distributes taxing rights between developed and developing countries. This challenge is being urgently addressed at the G20 this year, with a great role played by the OECD to reach a consensus-based solution for the tax challenges arising from the digitization of the economy. Key emphasis will be put on the need for global “minimum taxation” to avoid an unhealthy race to the bottom and unilateral harmful measures.
  • The growing financing gap to action the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that needs to be bridged with the different innovative financing mechanisms in a combination of domestic resource mobilization, private sector participation, and multilateral cooperation. The urgency for financing is mounting, and the G20 has prioritized a push forward in this direction, especially for the benefit of LIDCs. Civil society and foundations have a lot to offer in this policy discussion with expertise and strong commitment to investing in the realization of the SDGs.
  • Stepping up the fight against corruption, by cautiously exploring the roles of ICT and PPP to work favorably for society and the public purse. This year, the G20 is planning the first ever G20 Ministerial Meeting for Anti-Corruption Ministers, which is going to be interesting to follow with the building momentum in combating corruption around the world.
  • Since their first meeting ever in Berlin 2017, G20 Health Ministers entered the year with wide ranging priorities to discuss within the G20 Sherpa Track. However, one specific priority is understandably gaining the most attention: global pandemic preparedness. To respond to this urgency, we were honored to have convened the different G20 Engagement Groups to formally endorse a joint statement on behalf of B20, C20, T20, L20, W20, and Y20 with specific policy asks for G20 officials. The joint statement called for G20 leaders to fully prioritize building resilient health systems, and supporting R&D that is needs-driven, evidence-based, gender-sensitive, and adheres to the principles of affordability, equity, and accessibility.

Many innovative solutions that I did not mention are being put in the table by the different stakeholders, and especially NGOs and foundations, around global citizenship education, early childhood care and education, countering cyberbullying and cyber-violence, strengthening social protection systems and preparing youth for the future of work, but the real drive for the success of such a global response will be a shared strong belief and uptake in a whole-of-community approach to global problem solving.

The high expectations for COP26 and beyond

by Jason Anderson, ClimateWorks Foundation

Since the Paris Agreement was gaveled through at COP21, COPs have focused on completing the detailed implementing language, just as the process lost positive participation by one of its main architects – the United States – and global public demands for fast, ambitious action have truly taken off. The disconnect between those demands and the pace of the UN process has been palpable. COP25 in Madrid was not a success – it ran well over time and failed to complete major negotiations; it was also the lightning rod for civil society criticism of the process as being out of touch with their expectations. All of this puts further pressure on COP26 in Glasgow this November to do multiple things successfully: it should be the point by which countries table new national commitments and long-term plans; negotiations on a new approach to carbon markets should be finalized; it is a test of whether the UN Secretary General’s attempts to reframe the terms of ambition around recognizable goals like net zero emissions and ending new coal build has enough adherents to give the appearance of solidity; and it should be a space for reflection of myriad actions in the real economy, including in the financial sector, where the UK as host has a strong role to play.

To date, although only three countries have submitted new NDCs, another 107 have made it clear they plan to enhance their NDCs[1]. Those 107 represent only 15.1% of global emissions, meaning that all eyes are still on the major players like the EU and China to enhance their plans. During the UN Climate Action Summit in September 2019, 75 countries committed to delivering 2050 net zero emissions strategies. 14 long-term strategies have been submitted to date[2], including plans that are both less ambitious and out of date, so there is plenty of room for improvement.

The COP is also expected to complete new carbon trading rules under Article 6. This is the most technical piece of the Agreement and has defied successful negotiation at the last two COPs. Markets have a checkered history under the UNFCCC, with most people losing confidence in the environmental integrity of the Clean Development Mechanism. Negotiators hope not to repeat that experience, but one of the most contentious issues is whether to allow any of the accumulated offset credit from the CDM to roll over into the new system – poisoning it from the offset. There are also rules needed to avoid both buyer and seller countries claiming the same credit, and to ensure the entire system leads to greater mitigation overall. Supporters argue that the ability to trade will unlock mitigation at lower cost and provide an incentive to increase targets, but there are a lot of caveats to overcome to achieve that aim.

One of the main phenomena to emerge since the Paris agreement is the importance of what is generically called “Climate Action,” meaning everything being done by cities, states, businesses. Various summits outside the UNFCCC have tried to find an appropriate way to reflect the ambitions and importance of climate action – the One Planet Summit in 2017, the Global Climate Action Summit in 2018, the UN Climate Action Summit in 2019, and many more – all are trying to create something that isn’t fully worked out in global governance. Parties extended the mandate for Global Climate Action at COP25, creating an opening for the “high-level champions” to define further how this space is organized and contributing the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Finding the right role for climate action is one clear example of how COP26 is a pivot point – with 2020 being the end of the first phase of Paris. What comes after should be considered up for discussion. Much has changed in the past five years, including geopolitical shifts and worsening climate impacts that heighten the need for a serious review of the adequacy of global climate governance arrangements. The UNFCCC should continue to anchor global diplomacy and be a focal point for engagement of observers – but it shouldn’t stand alone in tackling climate, which needs to permeate bodies responsible for economic governance, security, sectoral cooperation and others. And all of these need to find a new way to represent different levels of governance that include the subnational and corporate, as well as providing spaces for meaningful interaction with global citizens, whose energy and input is essential to tackling the climate crisis.

[1] https://www.climatewatchdata.org/2020-ndc-tracker

[2] https://unfccc.int/process/the-paris-agreement/long-term-strategies

F20 Annual Report 2019

by the F20 Head Office

Strengthening and shaping the F20 engagement in the G20 and UN climate track – our contribution to shifting the trillions for a just transition

2019 was the so far busiest year for the F20 platform. At the same time, it was charged with high expectations, as many stakeholders in the realm of climate policy and renewable energy perceived the past year as an important opportunity to raise the ambitions for climate action
before the crucial year 2020. According to the five-year cycle of the 2015 Paris Agreement, all parties are to submit their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to the UNFCCC. As such, the NDCs are at the heart of the Paris Agreement, safeguarding the long-term goal of limiting the global average temperature increase well below 2 ° and, at best, to 1.5 °C.

Throughout the last year, F20 – under the umbrella of the 2030 Agenda with the 17 SDGs – thus sought to keep its focus on advocating for increasing the international ambitions on climate action and particularly urging G20 countries to assume their responsibility for climate leadership. As those countries contributing to more than 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the G20 have a pioneering role to play in climate action…

[Download the full report here]

New Wind and Opportunities for Climate Protection and Sustainability in Russia

by Klaus Milke

Ruslan Bayramov the Russian Founder of the International Charity Public Fund “Dialogues of Cultures – United World” and of the exhibition project Etnomir and Klaus Milke, Chairman of Foundations 20 participated as speakers in the annual Russian Donors Forum of this year on October 31 in Moscow.

“We recognize new wind and readiness in Russia to be more active and ambitious on climate protection and the implementation of the SDGs. But there is really also a tremendous urgency to do so”, stated Ruslan Bayramov in a session on climate change at the Russian Donors Forum. “This is because of two important reasons. One is because of very obvious dangerous impacts of the climate crisis in Russia itself. Please look at the rapidly melting permafrost in Siberia and the dangerous impact on infrastructures. The other is that the Russian government just decided to ratify the Paris Climate Agreement.”

“At the Moscow conference we had many very engaged discussions with interested representatives of Russian foundations and donors. We have learned that there is huge potential for a meaningful role Russia can play”, added Klaus Milke. “Especially when we take into account the geographic dimension and the rich diversity of this country. That is why it would be great to have more Russian foundations on board of F20.”

Alexey Shadrin, head of the F20 partner foundation the Russian Carbon Fund and of the Evercity impact platform, moderated the session on SDG 13 (Climate Protection) with Ruslan, Klaus and others, among them also Anton Tsvetov from the Russian Ministry of Economic Development. Alexey underlined: “There is a need for much more concrete international actions and not only to come over with nice announcements of politicians and business people. Russia’s diverse natural capital and talented engineers are willing to make a significant contribution to solving the climate crisis and reaching the UN 2030 Agenda. More international investments and joint think tanks are clearly needed to activate this potential.”


Ruslan Bayramov (Dialogues of Cultures – United World & Etnomir), Klaus Milke (F20 Chair), Alexey Shadrin (Russian Carbon Fund)

Klaus Milke was also invited to visit the Etnomir park 90 km South-West of Moscow. This impressing learning place for more cultural understanding is one of the core activities of Ruslan Bayramov’s foundation. Milke said afterwards: “I can recommend any Russian and traveller to Russia to visit Etnomir with an open mind and enough time”

At the Russian Donors Forum, several of the foundations and donors were interested in an exchange with counterparts in the EU on climate and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda. And as the Forum panellist Oldag Caspar, Team Leader German and European Low-Carbon Policy at the NGO Germanwatch added: “The time is ripe on both sides, Russia and the EU, for developing future forms of win-win partnership and transformative collaboration between different groups of stakeholders. Russia and the EU can complement each other for the benefit of both sides and more security in Europe when it comes to building carbon-neutral economies.”

Klaus, Alexey, and Ruslan agreed: “So let us work for more wind of cooperation.”

In the fringes of the conference, Klaus Milke gave two interviews to Russian media outlets, inter alia “+1” (click here).

Opening of the Klima Arena in Sinsheim – A place of knowledge, discussion and participation. For all.

From Dr. Bernd Welz, chairman of the “Klimastiftung für Bürger” (Climate Foundation for Citizens)

As the planning for the “Klima Arena” (Climate Arena) began about five years ago, the impending climate crisis was already known. However, the theme did not really enter the collective consciousness until about a year ago: through Greta Thunberg and the Fridays for Future movement.

The inauguration of the “Klima Arena” at the beginning of October this year so became more significant – in the presence of our Chancellor Dr. Ing. Angela Merkel, the Prime Minister of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Winfried Kretschmann, and of course the founder: Dietmar Hopp. Just now, the much discussed climate package had been decided and the German government had launched its Climate Protection Act.

However, many people still do not know the context, not the extent and scope for action of this immense global challenge. We also have to say that the confrontation often goes hand in hand with hostility. They all know arguments “ad hominem”, “fake news” and an overall changing culture of debate.

Fear of loss, the fear of change and to count to the losers, defensive reactions through the questioning of entire life models lead to diverse and often non-factual reactions.

How can we counter this?

An answer to that is: with facts and participation. Because: An enlightened society can develop the greatest possible resistance to these tendencies. That’s what the “Klima Arena” stands for. We want the necessary social debate about the climate crisis to be conducted on a fact-based ground. We want to reach as many people as possible – young and old, from the region and beyond – with these contents, to make them think and ultimately to encourage participation. They should become climate ambassadors, question their own actions and enter into the debate on what our world should look like in the future. The exhibition itself, numerous educational modules, lectures, discussions, large lighthouse projects and the consistent extension in the network are our approaches.

In the picture from left to right: Mayor of Sinsheim Jörg Albrecht, Bernd Welz, Chancellor Dr. Ing. Angela Merkel, Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg Winfried Kretschmann, the Climate Foundation for Citizens’ Chairman of the Board Alfred Ehrhard and the Chairman of the Foundation Council Stefan Dallinger. On the right: Founder and initiator Dietmar Hopp, whose Climate Foundation for Citizens is also one of the F20 partner foundations.

Offering participation, being a platform for discussions about solving this challenge and shaping our future – that should help to reduce the fear of change and the danger of a split in our society. We need positive pictures that are worth fighting for. Therefore, in the “Klima Arena” we rely less on threatening scenarios (without negating them), but on concrete options for action – both: small and large scale.

Nobody can handle the climate crisis alone. Therefore, as a “Klima Arena” we want to form a broad network of many players and connect ourselves to other networks. We are also pleasedabout the partnership with the Foundations 20. It is such an exemplary network, bundling the voices of civil society and articulating them at the highest level. As a counterpart to this, we act rather on the grass roots and turn to our broader society. It is important for us to be able, through such a cooperation, to connect students to the F20 and other actors who can find their way into politics. Because the message is the same at the end. We must turn the people we reach into fellow campaigners and a diverse chorus committed to preserving our livelihoods.

So hopefully we will manage to educate together, to reduce fears, to turn passive to active people and to increase the readiness in our society for a factual debate and a necessary change.

Therefore, we look forward to many guests and different impulses in the “Klima Arena”!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About the “Klimastiftung für Bürger” (Climate Foundation for Citizens)
The Climate Foundation for Citizens from Sinsheim in southwestern Germany, which also runs the Klima Arena in the same location, is a F20 partner foundation. The Climate Foundation for Citizens is supported by the Dietmar Hopp Foundation – Dietmar Hopp is one of the founders of today’s globally active SAP Group, the largest European and world’s third largest listed software company.

Contact information:

KLIMASTIFTUNG FÜR BÜRGER – KLIMA ARENA
Dr. Bernd Welz, chairman of the “Klimastiftung für Bürger”
b.welz@klima-arena.de

Photo Credit: Carsten Costard / Klima Arena

UN Climate Action Summit: Global Civil Society Directs “Ambition Calls” at G20 Countries

 

 by Lena Donat and Sophie von Russdorf

The Ambition Call, published ahead of UN Secretary-General Guterres’ 2019 Climate Action Summit, provides recommendations to governments for immediate climate action and points out co-benefits for sustainable development. Ambition Calls were published for the majority of the G20 countries and can be found in full-length here.

The G20 countries play a key role in tackling the climate crisis

The signs of an escalating climate crisis are becoming impossible to miss: On all continents, in all regions, the impacts of climate change are being felt. While Europe is still recovering from its latest, record breaking heatwave, the Arctic is suffering its worst wildfire season on record, and floods and landslides have displaced millions in South Asia . These events, together with overwhelming evidence from science, growing number of protests and climate change lawsuits, clearly demonstrate the urgency of strong climate action to limit global warming to 1.5°C. The G20 countries are key in driving this transition, as they are responsible for about 80% of global emissions and 85% of global GDP. At the 2019 Summit in Osaka, the G20 countries (with the exception of the USA) reaffirmed their commitments to fully implement the Paris Agreement and some, such as France and China, have already announced their willingness to increase their emissions reduction targets. But while climate change has often been on the agenda of the G20, they are not doing enough to reduce its impact: in most of the G20 countries, emissions are on the rise and many are not on track to meet their 2030 targets.

UN Secretary-General Guterres calls for concrete plans

In an effort to speed up climate action, UN Secretary-General António Guterres will host the 2019 Climate Action Summit on September 23 in New York. The summit aims to showcase a leap in national political ambition and demonstrate strong support from civil society and the real economy. But when UN Secretary-General Guterres invited global leaders to this summit, he requested that they don’t just bring speeches with them to New York, but realistic and concrete plans for more climate action – and he expects these plans to be compatible with the latest IPCC Special Report on global warming of 1.5°C. Climate Transparency, a network of civil society organizations and research institutes in the G20, has published Ambition Calls for the majority of the G20 countries ahead of the summit to call for exactly the kind of concrete, 1.5°C compatible actions the UN General-Secretary requested.

Tighten 2030 emission targets

The Paris Agreement requires all countries to submit their 2030 climate targets in the form of NDCs and update them every five years, starting in 2020. According to the Climate Action Tracker, none of the G20 countries’ current emissions reduction targets are compatible with a 1.5°C pathway. And most  G20 countries are likely to even miss these insufficient 2030 targets. UN Secretary-General Guterres has now requested that countries enhance their NDCs by 2020 to make sure global GHG emissions drop by 45% over the next decade.

While some countries have already commited to enhance their NDCs by 2020, such as Barbados, Chile, Ethiopia, Georgia, Vietnam, only one G20 country, Argentina, has done so. The Ambition Call calls for  e.g. Germany, Japan, India and China to prove they are commited to ambitious climate action by enhancing their 2030 targets.

Net zero by mid-century

The other request by UN Secretary-General Guterres was that countries reduce emissions to net zero by 2050. A growing number of countries, like New Zealand, Finland, and the Marshal Islands, have already pledged to aim for net-zero emissions by 2050 or earlier. But in the G20, only the UK and France have commited to this target so far. Civil society organisations and think tanks in the G20 have echoed the UN Secretary-General’s request in the Ambition Call, with Australia, the EU, Mexico, and the US being recommended to adopt a net zero 2050 target.

Civil society calls for G20 countries to act now

The UN Secretary-General has also given three examples of concrete climate actions countries should commit to. First, they should shift taxes from people to pollution. Second, they should stop subsidizing fossil fuels, and third, stop building new coal plants by 2020. In the Ambition Call, civil society and think tanks point out concrete measures how different G20 countries could respond to this call: Germany, China, Australia, Indonesia, Mexico, Japan or South Africa should urgently phase-out or reduce coal power; and Japan and Germany should introduce or increase a carbon price. Also the transport sector has been identified as an area for action: the Ambition Call recommends France, India, the UK and US to foster the shift to zero-emission vehicles. These actions suggested in the Ambition Call would not only lower emissions in the G20 countries, but also create co-benefits for sustainable development, e.g. by reducing air and water pollution, creating liveable cities and decent work.

Click to download as pdf.

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About Climate Transparency

Climate Transparency is a global network with a shared mission to stimulate a ‘race to the top’ in G20 climate action and to shift investments towards zero carbon technologies through enhanced transparency. It consists of renowned research institutes, think tanks, and NGOs – such as FARN and IDDRI – that represent the majority of the G20 countries, with many of them from developing countries. The work is supported by, amongst others, Climate Works Foundation. Every year, Climate Transparency publishes the Brown to Green Report, the world’s most comprehensive review of G20 climate action that provides concise and comparable information on G20 country mitigation action, adaptation, and finance. This year’s report will be published in November 2019.

Contact information:

Lena Donat
Policy Advisor – Low-Carbon Strategies & Transparency
Germanwatch e.V.
donat@germanwatch.org

Position paper of Foundation 2°: An ambitious climate protection act as an opportunity for innovation and planning security

 

 by Martin Kaul

Germany is looking at an important moment in climate policy; on September 20th the so-called “climate cabinet” will take place in order to lay the basis for future climate policy in Germany pursuing the climate targets for 2030 and beyond. From a German perspective, this will also send an important signal to the European and international level – only a few days ahead of the climate summit in New York.

Against this background, since the beginning of this year Foundation 2° has brought together over 30 companies from all sectors of the economy in the “Climate Protection Act Business Initiative” – including major companies from the automotive industry, heavy industry, mechanical engineering, the chemical industry and the financial sector, such as Volkswagen, thyssenkrupp, HeidelbergCement, Wacker Chemie, Otto Group, Schüco and Allianz. The participating companies employ nearly 1 million people in Germany and provide around 2.5 million jobs worldwide.

From the discussions with the companies, Foundation 2° has derived policy demands, which were published in a position paper. A few days before the decisive climate cabinet, with this paper we send the clear support signal to politicians for an ambitious climate policy: German businesses are ready to engage constructively in achieving climate goals and make concrete and comprehensive proposals for climate policy measures and instruments. The English summary of the paper can be downloaded here.

Contact information:

Martin Kaul
Head of Office & Climate and Energy Policy Officer
Foundation 2°
martin.kaul@2grad.org

Philanthropies’ Role in the year 2050

 

 by Keith Porter
(based on his keynote at the F20 Philanthropy Forum 2019 in Tokyo)

During the 2019 Foundations 20 (F20) Platform in Japan, I had the opportunity to deliver a keynote address about the role of philanthropies in 2050 and beyond. I approached the topic by reflecting on the advantages and power that we presently hold—as well as our shortcomings—and incorporated thoughts from colleagues working across issue areas on how we can challenge ourselves to chart a path forward for more-effective and just action. Regardless of the sector, we have a lot of hard questions to consider as we think about the next 30 years.

1) The privileged position we occupy in philanthropy

Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation wrote: “My fundamental, unwavering belief in philanthropy is informed by history and my own personal journey. Philanthropy was crucial in creating the blueprint for social progress in the 20th century that helped nations around the world eradicate disease, that lifted children like me out of poverty, and that financed the development of thousands of institutions and new capacity that expanded opportunity for billions of people around the globe. Philanthropy helped sustain the civil rights movement in the United States, the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, and the human rights movement in Latin America during the darkest years of military government.”

Of course, by definition, foundations have financial resources. But those financial resources translate into other advantages. We have significant influence over what topics are considered important. Our decisions impact the policy agenda, both domestically and internationally. When large philanthropies announce their funding priorities, other organizations – including governments – listen and sometimes re-align their own priorities. When the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announces that they will be targeting a specific disease, global health policy agendas around the world shift.

Likewise, philanthropies are under no obligation to follow the policy goals set by bodies like the United Nations, the G20, or any other government for that matter. We enjoy the luxury of pursuing our own agenda. We can take risks. We have freedom and flexibility. We can, if we so choose, quickly adopt new strategies and approaches. In theory, at least, we can swiftly respond and adapt, making philanthropists and their foundations very potent actors for the good of humanity.

We can also engage in long term thinking. Businesses too often do not look beyond the next quarterly earnings report. Politicians often cannot see beyond the next election cycle. But we have the ability to focus on generational change. We can do good today, but with effective strategy and vision, we can also structure that work in a way that will change the future. And we can foster discussion at the intersection of critical issues in ways other more siloed institutions cannot. We can draw attention to the connection between Climate change and Security, between Climate and Global Health Policy, between Climate and quality of life, and so on.

We can push governments and multilateral forums. That is what F20 did around the G20 summit 2019 in Japan. Working together to bring about even greater good. We can build networks. There are many great networks of philanthropies working together. And when we work together, we can add value to government and multilateral efforts.

This is evidenced in the value the Foundations 20 adds to the G20. We should always remember that our presence and engagement here add credibility and legitimacy and relevance to the G20’s existence.

2) The other side: the pitfalls of power, influence, and financial resources

In my first point, I have painted a bright and shiny picture of philanthropies. But we know that is not the whole story. The power and influence we wield through our financial resources, agendas, and networks, over the long-term can be as dangerous as they are enticing. And we owe it to ourselves to reflect on this reality.

Too often we set and influence agendas without consulting others. Too often we do not even consult the people we are trying to help. One observer at the recent Skoll World Forum wrote:  “The issues are many, it turns out, starting with the power dynamic: Typically older white men control most of the fortunes and purse strings when it comes to philanthropy; they hire experts who are often well-educated to devise solutions to problems like poverty, lack of health care and lack of education – all without getting input from the people who are meant to benefit from the services being funded.”

Furthermore, too often we lack transparency. We hide behind our policies and procedures, deliberately creating an air of mystery around our operations. This way of operating leads to limited accountability, perhaps by design. We perpetuate the myth that only the elites know what is best or that only the wealthy can solve problems.

Around the world, we have witnessed the rise of populism and increased public anger. We have seen a growing mistrust of elites, institutions, and experts. We have seen growing frustration at the increasing inequity and income gaps around the world. Philanthropies are part of this system generating the anger, mistrust and frustration. Yes, what we do can be seen as a way of re-distributing wealth, but it is a method entirely controlled by those who hold the wealth.

Darren Walker also said that too often we boast of saving the world while fundamentally strengthening the economic and social structures that separate the haves from the have-nots. We need to understand our own role in creating this moment of public anger, mistrust, and frustration.

Of course, many philanthropies want to do good and some even strive to address the underlying structures that create and perpetuate inequity, inequality, and injustice. But good intentions alone won’t protect us. Real change will only occur when we examine our own role in the problem.

3) Challenging ourselves and each other to do better

We should challenge ourselves with these self-criticisms, and we should recognize this moment as an opportunity to change our ways, to work together, to make investments aimed at creating a better world. So how do we do this?

We need to listen. This includes thinking more broadly about WHO we listen to, about who gets to be included in decision making, about who holds the power, especially at local levels. All philanthropists need to redouble their commitment to trusting those on the ground who know what is needed and provide them with resources. We need to be less concerned about promoting our own objectives and more concerned with really listening to what others need. Of course, it is useful to share best practices, spread effective approaches, and foster connections.  But it is critical for funders to be open to feedback and really listen to those who are engaged in the work on the ground.

We need to invest in the next generation of leaders. Young people today are coming of age in a world vastly different than the one we entered. Many, particularly those in the developed world, take it for granted that humans are all in constant contact with each other, that our differences are to be celebrated rather than to be feared, and that the problems facing humankind require a response which goes beyond governments and existing institutions. We should be celebrating and fostering the innovative approaches brought forward by new generations.

We need to prioritize network building among philanthropies and nonprofit partners with shared goals and values. Organizations can leverage and harness their joint resources to fast track and scale what is working, and hopefully share openly when well-intentioned strategies are falling short. Given the growth of technology that makes networks and collaboration the norm, this is clearly the future of philanthropy. Investing in the structures, organizations, and technology to make those networks useful for funders, for nonprofit groups, and for allies and partners can help ensure that these connections are inclusive, effective, and transparent. Using our resources to solve global problems will have so much more impact if we become the key developers of spaces for information sharing and cohesion. We can create spaces for stakeholders who may not otherwise have the means or impetus to meet, exchange ideas, and take concrete steps toward coalition building. At the Stanley Foundation we have learned that often, networks can be improved just by getting the right partners to the table, ensuring participation, and amplifying the voices of nonprofit partners who do not have the connections or resources to participate in key events. Our gatherings are often the first-time people from different sectors have an opportunity to meet and collaborate even though they are working on the same issue.

We should be more pro-active and more publicly provocative, in the F20 and in other networks. We should take up public leadership. If we can be clear, strategic, and practical, I believe it will push others to do the same. Let us take all of the advantages we enjoy and use them for the common good.

At a construction site a reporter once asked two workers, “What are you doing?” One answered, “I am laying bricks.” The other answered “I am building a cathedral.” As you think about philanthropy in 2050, what are you working towards right now? Over the next 31 years, do you hope to alleviate suffering at the margins? Or are you working to challenge the very structures that create victims in the first place?

We need to inspire. We need to articulate our common vision. Not from the top-down but by helping that vision be sourced and articulated from the bottom-up. Doing so can set an ambitious direction, and it can enable accountability and transparency. Articulating and sharing a common vision can help the communities we serve see how our efforts align with their needs and create the space for other stakeholders to engage and strengthen the collaboration. It helps to work together in places like the F20 and through other networks. We each have a small part to play, but our goal is enormous. Changing the world and limiting the global temperature increase to just 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is a massive challenge. None of us can do it alone. There is only one path which will allow us to face these epic challenges.

We as philanthropies must hold each other to higher standards, we must hold each other to greater accountability, we must work to include all the relevant voices, and we must all work together.

###

Special thanks to those who offered valuable contributions to these remarks: April Donnellan of the Global Philanthropy Partnership, Ellen Friedman of the Compton Foundation, Mark Seaman and Jennifer Smyser of the Stanley Foundation, Alex Toma of the Peace and Security Funders Group, and Rick van der Woud of Mensen Met Eein Missie (People with a Mission).

Contact information:

Keith Porter
President | CEO
The Stanley Foundation
kporter@stanleyfoundation.org

Climate finance for the global renewable energy transition with the help of central banks

Central banks as game changer for large scale climate finance and the possible role of the civil society

 

Anna Leidreiter & Matthias Kroll

Framing the problem:

To stop climate change at 1.5°C a fast increase of the global renewable energy capacities is inevitable. But, despite the fact that prices for renewables has declined rapidly, the worldwide yearly RE-investments stagnated at a level of around $300bn since 2011 (FS-UNEP), whereas the needed amounts are in an area of around $2 trillion. According to reports of IRENA and the OECD/UNEP the main barrier for a rapid increase is not a lack of potential ‘green’ investment capital, but a lack of bankable RE-investment projects. The real barriers are difficulties of risk assessment and a lack of profitability because in most countries of the global south people can afford only low energy prices. And affordable prices are necessary to meet the SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy for all). We are far away from being on track to reach the Paris goals and needed new and powerful financial tools to overcome the barriers and boost renewables on the necessary scale.

Central banks as the new player in town

As demonstrated in the financial crises central banks are the most powerful economic institutions in our current economic system, because they are the producer of the legal tender (in their countries) and the lender of last resort for the banking system. Central banks cannot become insolvent in their own currency and were therefore be able to finance a bailout program for the struggling banking system in an amount of several trillions. Thus, 10 years after the global ‘bank bailout’, we now need the engagement from the central banks for a ‘climate bailout’, which essentially facilitates the global transformation to 100% RE. Furthermore, the engagement of central banks is the only way to avoid burdening the national budgets and the taxpayer with the costs of the energy transition.

Before the financial crisis in 2008, central banks interpreted their mandate very conservative in only controlling the inflation rate. This has changed dramatically since the financial crisis. Fortunately central banks have now become aware that also climate change would affect their field of activity.

For the first time Mark Carney the governor of the Bank of England stated in 2015 that climate change would increase the overall financial risk for the economy and that climate change is therefore now part of the mandate of the Bank of England. In December 2017 a group of central banks, including the ECB, the Bank of England and the Peoples Bank of China, established a ‘Network for Greening the Financial System’ (NGFS). In their first comprehensive report (released April 2019) also this group declared climate change as new part of central banks mandate. One of the recommendations mentioned in the report is to tackle climate change by integrating sustainability factors into their own-portfolio management. This means central banks could substitute matured assets – purchased during the financial crises – by new green bonds and support the traditional green bond market in this way. The ECB has stated that they had already purchased green bonds in an amount of €48 billion.

A further, and much more advanced, recommendation of the NGFS report is that central banks could use parts of their portfolio “…investments to pursue non-financial sustainability goals in order to generate positive (societal) impacts, in addition to traditional financial return goals.”

Why is the “non-financial investments goals” term so important for scaling up RE-investments?

The term “non-financial” goals in opposite to “traditional financial return” goals in the context of central banks portfolio management could be understood that central banks could also purchase special “non-financial” green bonds with very low (if any) interest rates and a duration of many hundreds of years, which virtually means no need for a reimbursement. If e.g. MDBs would have the opportunity to sell such special “non-financial” interest free and perpetual green bonds to central banks they could use the received money in form of a grant – instead of a traditional loan – and leverage many RE-Investments in this way.

A possible policy framework to overcome the global RE-investment barriers

Private capital will only participate in climate finance if there is sufficient financial return. But, under current conditions and many unknown risk situations, many of the required renewable energy investments are not attractive for private investors. These barriers can be overcome by the development of a 100% RE-roadmap which shows the needed amount of guaranties and additional grants to make the investments bankable.

The role of the 100% RE-roadmap

Countries that want to implement a 100% renewables strategy should prepare a roadmap that outlines the necessary investments in terms of concrete projects, infrastructure and technology requirements. A MDB (or another designated institution) analyses the roadmap together with the relevant country to assure that the new investments fulfill the required criteria. If the roadmap is approved, the necessary guarantees for credits, the required grants and currencies are identified.

The role of guaranties:

As outlined above, risk calculations lead to the neglecting of many RE–investments, despite their potential profitability. The approved roadmap identifies which RE-investments can be implemented, if credit guarantees from the MDBs lower the level risk and thus the interest rate demanded. Because the MDBs alone can only cover a small part of the risk, Central Banks must cover the bulk of the risk of the guarantees. Thus, the MDBs create a new standardized low risk and low interest asset category which could be issued to private investors. The guaranteed assets issued by MDBs and backed by central banks would transform the RE-investment into a low risk, long term and sustainable investment. Central Banks would only become involved in the case of a default.

The role of issuing ‘standardized Green Climate Bonds’

If a RE-investment needs not only a guarantee to gain profitability, but a one-time or permanent grant, the involvement of Central Banks has to increases. In this case the MDBs, the GCF or the other designated financial institutions issue standardized and virtually perpetual Green Climate Bonds to Central Banks of industrialized countries which have accepted to purchase also new “non-financial sustainable goal assets”. The standardized Green Climate Bonds establish a new class of ‘non-financial’ assets, for Central Banks, as only Central Banks have the ability to purchase virtually perpetual bonds with very low (if any) interest rates. The new capability of the MDBs to receive new and virtually repayment-free money by issuing the ‘non-financial’ Green Climate Bonds to the Central Banks opens new possibilities to fund many additional RE-Investments.

What is needed from the global (G20) civil society?

The Civil society from the G20 states must establish new political pressure on governments to allow their central banks to use the “non-financial” portfolio management as a new monetary tool to fulfill their mandate in tackling climate change and boost the global energy transition. We need a mutual (informal) agreement between central banks and their governments. Then the involvement of central banks can be the game changer for pushing the global energy transition on the necessary scale to stop climate change at 1.5°C.

Contact information:

Anna Leidreiter
Director – Climate & Energy
World Future Council
anna.leidreiter@worldfuturecouncil.org

First F20 partner foundation from Italy – the Fondazione Unipolis

by the Fondazione Unipolis

In February 2019 Fondazione Unipolis joined the F20 as the newest member of the Platform and is the first member from Italy.

Fondazione Unipolis is an Italian non-profit organization, founded 30 years ago by Unipol Group, working especially on culture, sustainable mobility and social innovation, advocating and promoting project in partnership with other no-profit organizations. It has been working to promote sustainability within Companies and to support social start-up to grow up and be engaged. Meanwhile, Unipol Group is spreading in Italy awareness about climate change resilience with SMEs and public administrations cooperating through public-private partnership.

In 2016 established, with the University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development (ASviS). The aim of the Alliance is to raise the awareness of the Italian society, economic stakeholders and institutions about the importance of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and to mobilize them in order to pursue the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Alliance already brings together over 200 member organizations among the most important civil society institutions and networks, such as: associations representing social partners (businesses, trade unions and third sector associations); networks of civil society associations pursuing specific Goals (health, education, employment, environment quality, gender equality, etc.); associations of local public administrations; public and private universities and research centres; associations of stakeholders working in the fields of culture and information; foundations and networks of foundations; Italian organizations that are members of international networks dealing with the SDGs.

The Alliance’s specific objectives are:

  • to raise awareness among public and private actors, public opinion and citizens on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, favouring a widespread knowledge of current and future expected trends in relation to the SDGs, using all means of communication;
  • to propose policies aimed at achieving the SDGs and to express opinions on possible legislative measures, trying to evaluate their impact and focusing on their potential to bridge the gaps between the country’s regions and to eliminate inequalities among different socio-economic groups;
  • to promote education programs on sustainable development, with a particular focus on young generations;
  • to foster research and innovation for sustainable development, promoting the diffusion of good practices established in Italy and abroad, and the development of analytical tools to evaluate the impact of economic, social and environmental policies;
  • to contribute to the elaboration of adequate monitoring tools to achieve the goals in Italy, paying attention to specific stakeholder groups (businesses) and local contexts (communities and cities), while also giving due regard to existing tools such as the equitable and sustainable wellbeing indicators (BES – Benessere Equo e Sostenibile);
  • to promote the development of analytical tools to assess the impact of economic, social and environmental policies and reduce the costs of transition to sustainability by identifying trade-offs among existing policies and suggesting actions to make outcomes more favourable.

The main activities of the Alliance are the following:

  • ASVIS Report: Written thanks to the contribution of the over 300 experts from ASviS’s member organizations, the Report represents the Alliance’s primary contribution to transparent governance in Italy and aims at supporting Italian policy-makers at all levels in designing efficient and coherent strategies for sustainable development, presented before the parliamentary debate on the budget law. Each edition contains an evaluation of the policies implemented by the Government throughout the previous year in the economic, social and environmental fields, and advances policy proposals to lead Italy along a sustainable development path.
  • The Sustainable Development Festival: a national awareness-raising campaign launched by the Alliance every year to promote and spread a culture of sustainability among the Italian society. ASviS organizes the Festival together with its members and with the support of its partners, over the course of 17 days, as many as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) envisaged by the 2030 Agenda. The initiative constitutes a single large-scale, inclusive and widespread event. Last year there have been over 700 meetings.

Contact information:

Enrico Giovannini
Director of Asvis
portavoce@asvis.it

Marisa Parmigiani
General Manager Unipolis
marialuisa.parmigiani@unipol.it

Sabina Ratti
International Relations ASviS
Sabina.ratti@feem.it

www.fondazioneunipolis.org/

             

www.asvis.it/ | asvis.it/asvis-italian-alliance-for-sustainable-development (English site)

First F20 partner foundation from Mexico – the Iniciativa Climática de México (ICM)

by the Iniciativa Climática de México (ICM)

In January 2019 Iniciativa Climática de México (ICM) joined the F20 as the newest member of the Platform and is the first member from Mexico.

Iniciativa Climática de México is a Mexican non-profit organization established in January 2016, as a re-granting, think tanking, advocating, and convening organisation dedicated to reducing Mexico’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It collaborates equally with government entities, both chambers of the congress, business groups, civil society organizations, universities and think tanks.

As a think tank and convening organisation it addresses its mission by enabling the conditions to develop climate change mitigation public policies and supporting decision makers, at their request, to take climate change mitigation actions. As a re- granter, it raises funds to channel them strategically to Mexican NGOs and think tanks to enable them to participate in the design of public policies that contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Before the creation of ICM in 2016, its staff members worked from 2012 to 2015 as part of the Mexican branch of the Latin America Regional Climate Initiative (LARCI). During this period LARCI awarded more than 30 grants totalling more than US$5 million.

During the 2016-2018 period, ICM awarded donations and contracts for a total of US$3.2 million that have contributed to advance ICM’s three strategies: Climate Mitigation Policy, Energy Decarbonisation and Sustainable Transportation.

During 2019, ICM will work with key stakeholders at the national and subnational levels to develop 2030 sectoral decarbonization pathways in line with a 1.5°C carbon budget, design the main climate change policy instruments, and continue developing an enabling environment for the mass deployment of renewable energies, mostly by distributed solar generation in the country. These efforts aim to ensure that Mexico climate action and policy instruments are aligned with the Paris Agreement goals.

ICM has become a climate policy and advocacy orchestrator in Mexico, that encourages, enables, and coordinates the design and implementation of climate change mitigation policies and measures at national and sub national levels. As example of this:

  • ICM has seats in the main climate and energy decision making bodies in the country, such as the Advisory Committee of the Environmental Megalopolis Commission (CAME), National Climate Change Council, and in the Renewable Energy Council.
  • ICM has provided technical support for the design and negotiations for the main climate change legislation: General Law on Climate Change; the Energy Transition Law; and the Law on Human Settlements, Territorial Planning and Urban Development.
  • ICM is working in close cooperation with the Energy Ministry and the financial sector to develop programs and mechanisms that will help the mass deployment of renewable energies in Mexico (CSolar and Solar Bonus, we will share more information on these initiatives).

ICM is very enthusiastic to be part of the F20 and is excited to strengthen collaboration with current members.

Contact information:

Adrian Fernández Bremauntz
Chief Executive Officer
adrian.fernandez@iniciativaclimatica.org

Elizeth Juarez Velazquez,
Chief Operation Officer
elizeth.juarez@iniciativaclimatica.org

Daniel Chacon Anaya
Director of Energy Program
daniel.chacon@iniciativaclimatica.org

Jorge Villarreal Padilla
Director for Climate Policy Program
jorge.villarreal@iniciativaclimatica.org

www.iniciativaclimatica.org

F20 Annual Report 2018

by the F20 Head Office

From Hamburg to Buenos Aires and Beyond: Shifting the Trillions – Our Contribution to a Just Transition Foundations Platform F20

The F20 platform consists of foundations and philanthropic organisations from different parts of the world, yet mainly from the G20 countries. It calls for joint, transnational action towards sustainable development. F20 seeks to provide pathways to solutions for today’s most pressing challenges – climate change and a just transition towards sustainable development, based on renewable energy. F20 builds bridges between civil society, the business and financial sectors, think tanks and politics – within the G20 countries, between them and beyond. The foundations participating in F20 are convinced that only a new level of internationalcollaboration and transformational partnerships can solve the global challenges the world is facing today. F20 thus serves as a global learning platform for advocacy work and
improved cooperation, interlinking foundations globally and suggesting a variety of mutual opportunities. [Click to download the full report]

F20 Calendar 2019

Date Event Venue F20 Intervention
January
11 – 13 Jan IRENA Assembly Abu Dhabi Participation (StS) and informal meetings
22 – 25 Jan World Economic Forum Davos F20 statement
February
  1st Meeting of the Climate Sustainability Working Group Tokyo
  1st Meeting of the Energy Transition Working Group and Environment Senior Officials Meeting for G20 Tokyo
10 – 17 Feb Visit to India (3.German-Indian-Forum) with German Env. Minister Delhi + Mumbai Participation WSDS (KM), informal meetings , networking, contact to Indian Foundations (KM)
  REI-Conference “Revision” Tokyo Participation (StS), informal meetings and introduction of F20 (StS)
March
23 – 24 Mar G20: 5th World Assembly for Women in collaboration with W20 Tokyo
April
15 – 17 Apr G20: 2nd Meeting of the Climate Sustainability Working Group Nagano
18 – 19 Apr G20: Meeting of the Energy Transition Working Group and Environment Senior Officials Meeting for G20 Toyama
21 – 23 Apr G20: C20 summit Japan
May
14 – 18 May 49th IPCC Session Kyoto Optional: F20 statement
June
5 – 7 June Deutscher Stiftungstag Mannheim F20 participation and introduction
10 – 12 June G20: 3rd Meeting of the Climate Sustainability Working Group Yokohama
12 June F20 Philanthropy Forum Tokyo F20 event
June (tbc) F20 Assembly Tokyo F20 assembly
13 June F20 High-Level Forum Tokyo F20 event
13 – 14 June G20: 3rd Working Group Meeting on Energy Transition Nagano
14 – 15 June G20: Ministerial Meeting on Energy Transition and Global Environmental for Sustainable Growth Nagano
17 – 19 June Lord Mayor’s Foundation Melbourne F20 participation and introduction to Austral. Foundation representatives
17 – 28 June UNFCCC Intersessionals Bonn F20 statement, informal meetings
28 – 29 June G20 Summit  / JAPAN Osaka F20 Press release
July
9 – 18 2030 Agenda: High Level Political Forum  on SDGs New York F20 activity
August
24 – 26  Aug G7 Summit  / FRANCE Biarritz, Nouvelle-Aquaitaine F20 statement/joint statement
September
23 Sept UN Health Summit New York
23 Sept UN Climate Summit New York F20 activity/visibility
24 – 25 Sept UN SDG Summit New York F20 activity/visibility
October
November
December
January 2020 (tbc)
COP 25 Chile F20 event, press release

Review of the F20 Forum in Buenos Aires

by the F20 Head Office at the Environmental Foundation Michael Otto

With the support of its partner foundation Fundación AVINA and this year’s co-host GdFE, the Argentinian association of corporate foundations, F20 welcomed more than 200 participants including foundation representatives, Ministers, legislators and experts in Buenos Aires September 6th at the 2nd annual F20 High-Level Forum.

„The moral imperative for urgent action could not be clearer (…) Truly ethical leadership means taking tough decisions in the knowledge that the benefits may not be truly felt until many years after the end of your own lifetime. But this is our collective human and planetary responsibility.” – Ricardo Lagos, former President of Chile

At this high-level forum F20 called upon the Heads of the G20 countries to ensure that the outcome of this year G20 summit in November in Argentina would have to be in line with the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and the 2030 Agenda. Furthermore, mid-term and short-term decisions by the so called G20 finance ministers relating to energy, infrastructure and international financial flows should aim at reducing carbon footprints and clearing the way for a transformation towards clean energy.

„It’s crucial that the G20 stays on track with the Paris Agreement. International financial flows have to be aligned accordingly in order to ensure a just transition. For developing countries as Argentina, we must ensure the new infrastructure we will invest on is resilient to climate change and on track with a low emission development pathway.” – Ramiro Fernandez, Director Climate Change (Fundación Avina) and F20 Co-Chair

Guests and speakers included Ricardo Lagos, former President of the Chile, Rabbi Sergio Bergman, Minister of Environment, Argentina, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, former Minister of Environment, Peru and current Leader of the Climate Change Program of WWF International, Ana Toni, Executive Director of Instituto Clima e Sociedad (iCS), Brasil, Mika Ohbayashi, Director of Renewable Energy Institute (REI), Japan, or Naila Farouky, CEO of the Arab Foundations Forum.Three energizing panels with the overall focus on ‘Shifting the Trillions — Our Contribution to a Just Transition’ elaborated on best ways to accelerate and the energy transition and how to remain well below the dangerous benchmark for average global temperature increase of 2°. It became clear, that a just transition is not only helping the world to remain well below the 2° benchmark but also exhibits already a positive business case in many parts of the worlds.

“Protecting the climate is economically, technically and politically feasible and the G20 should set sail in seizing this opportunity. Foundations are part of the solution and are committed to fulfill this role.”  – Klaus Milke, Chair of F20, Founder and Chair of the Sustainability Foundation.

The major references for this endeavor remain the 2030 Agenda and the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. Furthermore, all speakers restated the particular responsibility of foundations in shaping the transition lying ahead. In this context the F20 platform again proved to be capable in building bridges between different stakeholders well illustrated by the third panel “And Action – Recommendations to the G20 Heads of State to implement the Paris Agreement and the SDGs under the paradigm of a Just Transition. Representatives of think tanks (T20), business (B20), youth (Y20), cities (Urban20) and the civil society organizations (C20) underlined their recommendations towards the Heads of State and the necessity of joint collaboration became evident.

Outcome of the Internal F20 Strategy Meeting in Mendoza

by the F20 Head Office at the Environmental Foundation Michael Otto

This document summarises the results of the two days internal strategy workshop in Mendoza, Argentina with representatives of F20 Steering Group and partner foundations hosted by the BMW foundation. The goal of this workshop was to identify the opportunities for the partner foundations of the F20 platform in the years ahead and to capture a snapshot of the current profile, its self-concept or purpose, as well as its goals and strategy. Minutes where taken and edited by the hosts of the workshop. In addition, participants worked on a detailed timeline of events until 2020, which is added at the end of the document.

Why does our community exist?

F20 is a community of foundations collectively advocating for the implementation of the Paris Agreement (PA) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At the same time, its members mutually enable each other through their diverse strengths to work more effectively on these issues.

The uniqueness of the F20 platform builds on the characteristics of foundations as mission-driven players who have the endurance and resources to work on a long term vision. F20 follows a solution driven approach in order to achieve a constructive impact on the G20 that is focused on the SDGs and climate nexus, while providing actionable intelligence on the G20 processes to its members.

Who is our community for?

F20 offers its members a common voice and visibility on SDGs and climate issues in the wider G20 arena. It provides access to relevant global and local information, knowledge and networks. At the same time, it is a platform based on trust and shared values for peer learning and capacity building to allow its members to improve the quality and relevance of their respective programs in the SDGs and climate field.

What is our working approach?

F20 focuses on the G20 process using an agile, opportunity-driven approach to advocate among decision makers for the implementation of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement through joint statements, annual events, collaboration with other stakeholder groups and other interventions, bringing the global voice also to the local level.

At present, F20 is an independent G20 engagement group, following the respective procedures in the G20 group. In view of the higher thematic complexity and yearly changing governance model, the platform seeks to remain independent for the moment to make best use of its limited resources. When it proves difficult to reach its advocacy goals under these conditions, and more influence can be exerted on the decision making processes as an official engagement group, the decision might be reviewed in the future.

What is success for us?

The mission and overall goal of F20 is the 2030 Agenda, its SDGs and the Paris Agreement. So success can be defined as enhanced awareness and activities, enabled through F20, that contribute to the implementation of these international agreements – on the level of its members, the national discourse as well as the global political arena. Climate and energy with SDG 7 + 13 are part of the 2030 Agenda.

On the operational level, it is a success if F20 is recognized as a relevant player able to exert a relevant level of influence on decision-making processes and to maintain its legitimacy in the long run. On the organizational level, success would be achieved through the quality of its members and the sustainability of the platform. F20 should define concrete indicators by which its success can be measured.

What roles can members play?

F20 members can make use of F20 statements or documents in their respective advocacy work and make reference to F20 and/or the issues at stake (climate mitigation, PA, SDGs, just energy transition, etc.) in all member activities. References to the F20 platform should be made in any process related to the G20 process, G20 member engagements (i.e. in COP, SDG events, etc.) and/or domestic calls for more ambition (i.e. with regard to the NDCs). F20 should build on the specific skills and strengths of its members and charge them with according tasks.

F20 offers its members the opportunity for bilateral collaborations and common initiatives, ad-hoc meetings (i.e. at existing meetings or platforms like GCAS or Arab Foundation Forum), statements or projects on the basis of open opt-in/opt-out opportunities.

As a network, there are two potential alleys towards member-driven initiatives: it can either allow its members to communicate and act as a member of F20 or, within strictly defined guidelines, members are allowed to act on behalf of F20. The first would be a more centrally controlled approach, the second a more open one, bearing in mind potential risks of misunderstandings or abuse. Any level of self-organization would need clear guidelines for involvement. Both models are not necessary mutually exclusive, but offer future possibilities when the platform has grown and matured further.

In order to have the right members on board, specific gaps with regard to skills, topics and geography should be identified. A specific effort should now be given to Japanese and Saudi-Arabian foundations. A bottleneck might be the potential discrepancy between expectations and the capacities of the F20 secretariat.

The Heinz Sielmann Stiftung is the first German foundation to become a technical Partner of the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative AFR100

by the Heinz Sielmann Stiftung, Partner Foundation of F20

In May 2018, the Heinz Sielmann Stiftung was the first German foundation to be accepted as a technical partner within the AFR100 Initiative. The African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative has the ambitious goal to restore more than 100 million hectares of degraded forest land in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2030. It is a partnership of more than 20 African governments and numerous financial and technical partners. The latter provide technical assistance on a wide range of activities from implementing forest restoration measures to monitoring restoration progress and identifying new opportunities for restoration.

The technical partnership with the AFR100 Initiative is a promising further step for the international engagement of the Heinz Sielmann Stiftung and a great opportunity for fruitful cooperation and constant improvement of the foundation’s international engagement. The Heinz Sielmann Stiftung will support the initiative not only through its forest restoration projects but also by making available its expertise from more than two decades of work in nature conservation and by providing access to its large German network of expert forest stakeholders. The Heinz Sielmann Stiftung greatly appreciates the AFR100 network’s trust in its work and is looking forward to this new challenge.

The engagement of the Heinz Sielmann Stiftung’s in Africa
When confronted with global phenomena like the climate change and the loss of biodiversity, one has to work in a way that takes the interconnectedness of problems and one’s international responsibility into account. Therefore, the Heinz Sielmann Stiftung has started to extend its involvement in nature conservation internationally by initiating two cooperation projects in Ethiopia and Uganda respectively. Both nations have committed to the AFR100 Initiative’s goal.

The main objective of the Heinz Sielmann Stiftung’s work in Africa is reforestation and rehabilitation of degraded forest landscapes. Thereby, the projects directly contribute to fulfilling the AFR100 Initiative’s goal of restoring 100 million hectares of forest. The foundation focuses on indigenous tree and plant species to create new habitats for the local flora and fauna, increase biodiversity and make the landscape richer in structure and more resilient against climate change. It also supports courses and educational projects for conservation of intact ecosystems and the sustainable use of natural resources.

In Ethiopia, the various conservation measures are carried out in cooperation with the German foundation “Menschen für Menschen”, which has been working in Ethiopia according to the principle of integrated sustainable development for more than 35 years. Securing the natural resources of Ethiopia plays an important role in the work of the foundation. For its forest landscape restoration project in Uganda, the Heinz Sielmann Stiftung was lucky to find a reliable and competent local partner, the Rakai based NGO RECO (Rakai Environmental Conservation Programme). RECO importantly influenced the strategic planning of the project and responsibly carries out the conservation and education measures.

Why forests are a key factor of sustainable development
Mitigating climate change and preserving biodiversity are the first things that come to mind when thinking about the positive effects that forests have on the overall well-being of the planet’s ecosystems. But besides being natural carbon sinks and biodiversity hotspots, forests fulfil many other important ecosystem services such as retaining water, preventing soil erosion, improving water and soil quality, stabilizing the local climate, providing food and shelter and securing the livelihoods of a large number of people.

By conserving and restoring forests rich in structures and indigenous plant species, one addresses a number of problems that are closely interrelated. Forests are often destroyed for short-term economic benefits when the truth is that possibilities for long-term income through, for example, sustainable agriculture, only arise when there are intact forests which provide the aforementioned ecosystem services. But forests can also be a direct source of income by providing various non-timber forest products such as honey or fruits. The sustainable use of such non-timber forest products not only generates additional income for vulnerable populations but also gives people a strong economic reason to protect forests together with their biological diversity.

To sum up, it becomes clear that besides climate change and loss of biodiversity, forest conservation and forest restoration can address various other problems such as food security, poverty, and rural migration – and therefore have a positive impact on all three dimensions of sustainability. Considering this potential, forests are a topic that will continue to shape international nature conservation and sustainability efforts for a long time to come.


About the Heinz Sielmann Stiftung
The Heinz Sielmann Stiftung was founded in 1994 by well-known wildlife filmmaker and conservationist Professor Heinz Sielmann and his wife Inge Sielmann. For almost 25 years, the Heinz Sielmann Stiftung conserves biodiversity, operates environment and nature learning centres, provides nature experiences for all ages, supports various nature conservation projects and houses the historic films of its founder Heinz Sielmann.

The foundation’s work in nature conservation focuses on the restoration and preservation of diverse habitats such as forests, swamps and wetlands, lakes, grassland, former mining landscapes and military areas. Among those various types of landscapes that the Heinz Sielmann Stiftung develops and conserves, forests play a special role. In Germany but especially on the global scale, forests are a key factor in addressing the multifold and interlinked problems that the planet’s ecosystems are confronted with. Acknowledging this fact, the Heinz Sielmann Stiftung has launched two international cooperation projects in Africa which are strongly focused on reforestation.

Agenda 2018 – F20 activities at G7, G20 and the COP24

by the F20 Head Office at the Environmental Foundation Michael Otto

The Foundations Platform F20 perceives the G20 process and the formal meetings of the UNFCCC (Conference of the Parties, COP) as two important pathways that are heading to the same direction. As G20 summits address far more than just climate-related issues, the F20 platform engages the G20 process with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda as the main overarching framework. In 2018, the F20 platform will continue to be part of the solution in both processes. In addition to the G20 and COP process, F20 is working on a Joint Statement with other engagement groups, which will be published around the G7 summit in Canada. The messages and key activities of F20 around the G20 summit in Buenos Aires in Argentina and the COP24 in Katowice, Poland, are briefly summarised in the following:

F20 at the G20 summit 2018, Buenos Aires, Argentina

In the G20 process, the F20 platform focuses on the ‘Energy Transition Working Group’ and the ‘Working Group on Climate and Sustainability’. F20 seeks to utilise four main channels to contribute to the G20 process: i) to support the Argentinian G20 presidency in hosting a successful G20 meeting with a strong outcome; ii) to support meetings and workshops as part of the society before the final negotiations iii) to suggest concrete amendments to the wording of the final G20 summit communiqué and outcomes, as well as iv) to highlight specific topics, such as green finance, building of green infrastructure and carbon pricing.

The G20 summit in Argentina provides the opportunity to support a Global South perspective on climate and energy policy issues. Together with its Argentinian foundations the F20 platform has developed its own narrative within the G20 process for this year: with „Shifting the Trillions — Our Contribution to a Just Transition“ F20 seeks to showcase best ways to align financial flows to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, requiring revised Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that can limit global warming to at least 1.5° to 2°C. A publication and a joint statement with other engagement groups will be released on this subject.

Finally, at a public event in Buenos Aires around the 6th of September, the F20 platform will present its main messages to the G20 process, followed by a F20 strategy meeting in Mendoza from the 7th to 9th of September. The meeting will be in parallel with the 3rd Sherpa meeting in Mendoza, providing the opportunity for an informal exchange between F20 representatives and some G20 Sherpas or representatives from Sherpa Offices.

F20 at the COP24 in Katowice, Poland
Within the formal UNFCCC track, F20 seeks to contribute to the Talanoa Dialogue by linking the G20 process with the COP24 in Katowice in the first weeks of December, hosting a side-event and bringing different stakeholders together.

Download the full F20 Agenda 2018 and the F20 Calendar for 2018 here.

Unlocking the trillions for shifting them to renewable energies

by Dr. Matthias Kroll, World Future Council

Ten years ago the Central Banks started a bailout program to prevent a collapse of our financial system. Now we needed a ‘Climate Bailout’ to prevent global warming above 1.5°C.

In order to meet the +1.5 ° C limit specified in the Paris Agreement, a shift of the global energy supply to 100% renewable energy is necessary at the latest by 2050. Such a process requires annual investments in the order of $1.5 to $2 trillion.[1] Although the costs of renewable energies have recently declined sharply and further downturns can be expected, global RE-investments are stagnating since 2011 at a level of around $280 billion.[2] The reason for that is not a lack in green investment finance (Green Bonds), there is however a lack in bankable projects to attract green investors.[3] Additional monetary support must be provided, in order to unlock the existing trillions and bring the global expansion of RE to the necessary scale. However, funding from public budgets, including instruments such as emissions trading or CO2 taxes, is not a realistic option to cover the yearly gap between the existing $280 billion and the needed $2 trillion in renewable energy investments.

How could we unlock the trillions for shifting them into RE-Investments?

A new innovative financing mechanism is required and can be established through cooperation between the non-industrialized countries, the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), the Green Climate Fund (GCF), or other financial institutions, and the Central Banks of the industrialized countries. The MDBs, together with non-industrialized countries, should develop national roadmaps for a sustainable 100% RE strategy and identifying the financing requirements on guarantees and grants required for each country.

Central Banks are in charge for a ‘climate bailout’

As demonstrated during the financial crisis 2008, Central Banks are the most powerful economic institutions in our current economic system, because they are the producer of the legal tender (in their countries) and the lender of last resort for the banking system. Central banks cannot become insolvent in their own currency and were therefore able to finance a bailout program for the struggling financial system. Thus, 10 years after the global bank bailout, we now need the engagement from the Central Banks for a ‘climate bailout’, which essentially facilitates the transformation to 100% RE.

The role of the guarantees

Available risk calculation methods often lead to neglecting RE-investments, despite their potential profitability. While credit guarantees from MDBs can lower the risk and thus interest rates they also have significant limits to unleash the full potential of RE. Therefore, Central Banks must cover the bulk of the risk of the guarantees. MDBs could bundle RE-investments to generate a bond with a homogeneous risk category. Thus, the MDBs create a new standardized and low risk asset category which could be issued to private investors: The ‘Central Bank Backed Climate Bonds’ (CBBCBs).

The guaranties of a Central Banks can hereby justify interest rates at the level of AAA government bonds (e.g.: 1.5% or 2.5%). This low interest level would unlock a huge amount of additional RE-Investments. The low interest level leads to lower investment costs and thus can be used to sell the newly produced renewable electricity at a price, which makes it ‘affordable for all’ (in line with the SDG 7). The CBBCBs would transform RE-Investment into a low risk, long term and sustainable investment. Central Banks would only get involved in the case of a default. The impact for their balance sheets would be small.

‘Standardized Green Climate Bonds’ (SGCBs) to unlock new money

Some RE projects do not only require a guarantee to gain profitability, but a one-time or permanent grant. In this case MDBs, the GCF or any other designated financial institution can issue standardized and virtually perpetual Green Climate Bonds to Central Banks of industrialized countries. These `Standardized Green Climate Bonds´ (SGCBs) establish a new asset class for Central Banks, as only they have the ability to purchase virtually perpetual bonds with very low (if any) interest rates. The new capability of the MDBs to receive new and virtually repayment-free money by issuing `Standardized Green Climate Bonds´ to the Central Banks opens new possibilities to fund many additional RE-Investments because with that, MDBs gain a more leeway to give grants.

The grants would be a big support to reach the SDG 13, but they could also be used to decrease the price of the new renewable energy towards a level with is in line with the principle from the SDG 7 affordable energy for all.

Central Banks played a key role in managing the banking crisis by adding unprecedented amounts of new bonds to their balance sheets, without losing their independence, endangering monetary stability or cause inflation. Central Banks from at least a few industrialized countries could already initiate such a new Standardized Green Climate Bond system. The Bank of England and the ECB have recently stressed that Central Banks’ need to expand their mandate to include global climate protection. The purchase of such new Standardized Green Climate Bonds by the ECB is permissible under existing EU Treaties.

This new finance tool would trigger the economic circle between the developed (G20) countries and the developing world. And the unlocking of large scale RE-investments would – in addition to the SDG7 and SDG 13 – supporting several other SDGs.


[1] See: World Future Council: Unlocking the trillions to finance the 1.5°C Limit, Future Finance – Policy Brief, 09/2017. https://www.worldfuturecouncil.org/file/2017/11/WFC-Policy-Brief-09_2017-Unlocking-the-trillions_Merged-Version-1.pdf

[2] See: FS-UNEP, Global trends in renewable energy investment 2018, http://fs-unep-centre.org/sites/default/files/publications/gtr2018v2.pdf

[3] See: IRENA, Scaling up renewable energy investment in emerging markets, January 2018, p.3 (White Paper).

G20 Energy Transitions Working Group –
A good start in the right direction

by Ramiro Fernandez, Fundación AVINA

The global transition of the energy sector is one of the global Megatrends and triggers the attention of global policymaking. Hence, the subject is high on the agenda of the G20 summits.

Under the Argentinean G20 presidency, the Energy Transitions Working Group signalled their strong support for renewable energies and energy efficiency. The presence of President Macri at the first meeting of the working group, demonstrates the commitment of the current administration to the energy transition in context of climate change. While the energy transition is imperative for environmental reasons, the focus of the Argentinian G20 presidency also appears reasonable with regard to economic benefits.

Renewable energy is the sector of the national economy that has grown faster in the last two years, reducing the “Energy Emergency” that was declared by Minister Aranguren as soon as he took office as Minister of Energy and Mining in December 2015. Before, the damaged electricity generation and distribution system in combination with peaking electricity demands due to high temperatures almost reached the maximum of installed electricity capacity and the Argentinean energy system was close to collapse.

In 2018, the situation has considerably improved, especially through the expansion of renewable energy. Today, companies of the wind power industry, such as the Danish wind turbine company Vestas, are opening new factories to assemble and produce parts of the equipment in the country, increasing jobs and helping the recovery of one of the poorest G20 countries after South Africa.

In the G20 Energy Transitions Working Group, the Argentinean G20 presidency attempts to continue its national conversion of the energy sector by providing the opportunity for a broader and open exchange between the presidency, G20 engagement groups and other stakeholders. With an open forum added to the programme before the two-day working group meeting, this year’s G20 presidency provided room for an informal debate and inputs from non-state actors. The session started with the International Energy Agency (IEA) sharing the main outcomes of their report “Energy Transitions towards cleaner, more flexible and transparent systems”, jointly developed with the Argentinean G20 presidency. The report puts a focus on the energy transition and showcases G20 countries as leaders in this regard, yet also points out the array of different strategies and stages of progress that primarily depend on the respective national context. The role of energy to the fulfilment of the 2030 Agenda – in particular the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 7 on energy access, SDG 3 on health and air pollution, as well as SDG 13 on combating climate change – was specifically addressed.

Among the delegates attending the G20 Energy Transitions Working Group the aim of strengthening synergies between energy efficiency and renewable energy sources was highly appreciated. By optimising the energy infrastructure and accelerating the reduction of GHG emissions, also shown in the reports by IRENA and IPEEC, huge co-benefits could be generated.

In general, the strong presence of the Ministry of Environment at the working group meeting and the constant interaction among both ministries – the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Energy – is a good signal to assure the safeguarding of progress that was achieved in the “Hamburg Climate and Energy Action Plan“ during last year’s G20 summit. In April, the first working group meeting on climate change in the history of G20 will be held in Buenos Aires, providing a unique opportunity for the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Energy to take a leading role and provide their inputs into the final outcome document of the G20 communique.

However, after the working group meeting in February it is still too early for predictions about possible outcomes on climate and energy policy under the Argentinian G20 lead this year. The second meeting in June with the presence of ministers from all G20 countries is likely to reveal the differences on the pace and stage of the transitions carried out on the national level and paving the way towards renewable and more efficient energy systems. In terms of possible energy transition pathways, it is also necessary to clarify the role of natural gas, which might risk the weakening of the narrative about how seriously climate change is addressed, if possible still avoiding the 2°C scenario and aiming for 1.5°C global temperature rise, as agreed in Paris in 2015.

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