F20 Internal News Blog

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.


Alexandra Wandel
Chair, Management Board
World Future Council

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”!










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:

Dr. Bernd Welz, chairman of the “Klimastiftung für Bürger”

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.


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.

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°

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

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

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

Marisa Parmigiani
General Manager Unipolis

Sabina Ratti
International Relations ASviS



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

Elizeth Juarez Velazquez,
Chief Operation Officer

Daniel Chacon Anaya
Director of Energy Program

Jorge Villarreal Padilla
Director for Climate Policy Program


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
11 – 13 Jan IRENA Assembly Abu Dhabi Participation (StS) and informal meetings
22 – 25 Jan World Economic Forum Davos F20 statement
  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)
23 – 24 Mar G20: 5th World Assembly for Women in collaboration with W20 Tokyo
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
14 – 18 May 49th IPCC Session Kyoto Optional: F20 statement
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
9 – 18 2030 Agenda: High Level Political Forum  on SDGs New York F20 activity
24 – 26  Aug G7 Summit  / FRANCE Biarritz, Nouvelle-Aquaitaine F20 statement/joint statement
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
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.

© 2019
Foundations Platform F20.

All rights reserved.

F20 Head Office
at the Environmental Foundation Michael Otto
Glockengießerwall 26

20095 Hamburg

Stefan Schurig
Secretary General
Mail: stefan.schurig@foundations-20.org
Phone: +49 (0)40 249319
Mobile: +49 177 2510019

Martin Bosak
Mail: martin.bosak@foundations-20.org
Phone: +49 (0)40 249319

Moska Timar
Assistant to the F20 Steering Group
Mail: moska.timar@foundations-20.org
Phone: +49 (0)40 249319

Bank Details
Umweltstiftung Michael Otto

IBAN: DE92 2007 0000 0051 4745 05
Deutsche Bank AG

© Copyright – Foundations Platform F20

Scroll Up