‘We are now shifting our focus to places where there is political vision and will, such as the emerging economies of Brazil, India and China.’
The Oak Foundation is among the largest and most strategic environmental funders in Europe. Over the past 15 years, its chair, Kristian Parker, has played a leading role in shaping Oak’s environmental agenda and has encouraged other funders to get more involved with issues like the sustainability of the oceans. In this interview for Alliance, he speaks to Alejandro Litovsky of the Earth Security Initiative and takes stock of his work so far. As environmental limits begin to suggest a planetary crisis, where should foundations go next?
The oceans, and now climate change, have a prominent role in your strategy. Why?
In 1998 our family foundation was beginning to define its agenda for the environment. At the time I was doing my PhD in biology and marine ecosystems and I was given a fair amount of leeway from the family to find the direction for the environment programme. The oceans agenda was a natural direction, given my education and contacts. As we went along, that interest was reinforced by the fact that few funders were focused on the oceans, and we saw an opportunity to have an impact.