Environmental philanthropy and COVID-19: More urgent than ever


Julia Davies


With much of the world exiting a pandemic and entering a recession, the environment and conservation may not seem a pressing concern – but climate change and biodiversity loss remain the most significant threats we face and that’s why at We Have The POWER we continue to devote 100 per cent of our funding to dealing with these issues. We may be a relatively small charitable giving fund, but our ambition is big. We’re here to Protect Our World – Educate, Restore – POWER.

Food security, public health, education, the rights of vulnerable groups, and even the arts and our heritage are all threatened by the climate crisis. There are no theatres or art galleries in sub-merged cities! By supporting organisations working to protect the environment we are addressing all these issues. Environmental degradation and the increased frequency of catastrophic weather events are rendering huge areas of the planet uninhabitable, displacing millions of people. Efforts to improve living standards and eliminate poverty will fail without complimentary action on climate change.

The International Energy Agency warned recently that the world has only six months to prevent a rebound in greenhouse gas emissions following the pandemic. Progress made in tackling climate change is fragile – in the coming months, the temptation to exceed greenhouse gas emission limits in pursuit of rapid growth will be strong. The lobbying capacity of even well-funded non-profit organisations pales in comparison to that of fossil fuel interest groups.

From the first murmurings about billions of Government financial stimulus, Greenpeace have been on the case, reporting on who is asking for and receiving what, and what that means in Climate Emergency terms. So, at the beginning of the pandemic we decided to make a substantial contribution to Greenpeace general funds to give them maximum flexibility to react to quickly unfolding events. Greenpeace have led calls for a green stimulus – including their recent manifesto, A Green Recovery – How we get there.

As a donor I can see the temptation to want to fund specific charitable projects for the satisfaction of knowing what you have helped achieve and we have done that in some instances. Providing the last bit of funding needed by the Dorset Wildlife Trust to go ahead with its beaver release programme was particularly satisfying. However, charities really need help with their core costs, especially right now when many of their usual donors are feeling the pinch and so many fundraising events have been cancelled or postponed.

Now is the time for innovation and ambition in tackling the issues faced by our planet. The UK’s economic recovery must be based on nature’s recovery to build a healthier and more resilient society and tackle the climate crisis and nature depletion. The Wildlife Trusts have been working with communities for years to restore nature, but we need to do this on a much bigger scale, and faster. So in one of our most exciting projects We Have the POWER is supporting The Wildlife Trusts to develop new mechanisms to enable investors big and small to be part of exciting programmes to bring about nature’s recovery at the scale and pace needed to bring our UK wildlife back and effect a green recovery.

Now is the time to support bold action on the climate and ecological crisis and to secure our planet’s future – environmental philanthropy is needed now more than ever.

Julia Davies founded We Have the POWER earlier this year with part of the sale proceeds of outdoor company Osprey Europe Ltd. After a career as a lawyer, Julia now splits her time between supporting green start-up companies and a variety of environmental and conservation organisations and campaigns. We Have the POWER is a Donor Advised Fund under Prism the Gift Fund.

Tagged in: Covid-19

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