European philanthropy has the tools to embrace emerging global issues


Wilhelm Meya


Attending the Philea Forum was an eye-opening experience that showcased the immense potential of European philanthropy. The event successfully brought together a diverse range of stakeholders, including NGOs, foundations, and organisations of foundations, all sharing a common goal of making a positive impact on the world. I was struck by their concerted effort to streamline and systematise European giving, ultimately leading to more effective approaches in addressing various funding areas and methods.

The underlying theme of Philea was uniting passionate individuals and organisations driven to effect change and create a better future. It was inspiring to witness the collective determination of like-minded, intelligent, and compassionate individuals committed to supporting critical causes around the globe.

One of the key takeaways was the need to adapt and respond to emerging issues. Climate change, democracy, and equality rightfully took center stage, reflecting the urgency of these global challenges. However, what impressed me about the forum was its inclusivity and capacity to address a wide range of issues. It embraced lesser-known concerns such as systems change, intergenerational issues, education, and cultural issues, with support and understanding. In today’s increasingly globalised world, where cultures face the threat of contraction, the imminent loss of 90 per cent of the world’s languages poses a significant risk to our global heritage. Philea’s recognition of this and many issues exemplifies its flexibility and commitment to diversity.

At The Language Conservancy (TLC), we firmly believe that all languages have the inherent right not just to exist but to thrive. We value them as irreplaceable components of people’s culture and humanity’s linguistic heritage. TLC’s global work centers around preventing language extinction through fundraising, raising international public awareness about the language-loss crisis, creating language tools (including advanced technology) for cultural preservation, and supporting organisations and communities engaged in revitalising their languages. We’ve made enormous strides over the past 20 years to preserve Indigenous languages, but we cannot do it alone. Philea made me feel optimistic that our language preservation efforts might now be embraced by the European philanthropy community.

Looking ahead, it is clear that European philanthropy is increasingly embracing the opportunity to support initiatives outside of Europe. As logistical challenges related to funding projects abroad are addressed, this shift will undoubtedly unlock numerous opportunities. By collaborating with community foundations in target countries, European funders can establish funds that specifically support language and cultural projects. This approach not only ensures localised support but also safeguards the preservation of diverse languages, cultures, and addresses various other concerns on a global scale.

I walked away from the conference with a strong belief in the immense potential of European philanthropy to create lasting positive change. The event successfully united stakeholders from various backgrounds, providing a platform for dialogue, collaboration, and the streamlining of philanthropic efforts, including language preservation. By embracing emerging issues and showcasing flexibility and diversity, Philea has emerged as a global leader.

Wilhelm Meya, Chairman and CEO, The Language Conservancy

Tagged in: Philea Forum 2023

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