We at Active Philanthropy are committed to creating awareness around climate change and engaging diverse stakeholders to join us in the fight against the climate crisis. We are convinced that foundations can and must play a vital role in addressing this global threat. With a mission like ours joining the PEXforum 2021 and the movement beyond is a necessity. It came as a surprise, however, just how many organisations in the PEX ecosystems are already starting to think their mission in terms of climate change. Taking part in the PEXforum 2021, therefore, was both a confirmation of our own approach and an excellent opportunity to be inspired by our colleagues in other fields of philanthropy. As Geoff Mulgan put it in his keynote: ‘If we want to produce viable scenarios for a future in which people and planet are better off then today, we must collaborate and share our experience and intelligence with each other.’
The PEXforum 2021 also serves as a timely reminder that climate change (or, for that matter, the Covid-19 pandemic) is neither the only nor the most important challenge that societies face. Although climate change is incredibly urgent and unfathomably consequential, our dialogues with colleagues during the Forum highlight that it is not a standalone problem; the fight against it is not an end in itself. Instead, we must first envision a better future including for example gender equality, just and democratic societies or universal health care, and then consider how fighting climate change helps us to build it. Climate change is already reinforcing existing inequalities and making the existing barriers to a better future harder to overcome.
Today it is more important than ever to amplify the voices of those who have none but are at the receiving end of the world’s biggest challenges. To achieve this, deep collaboration within philanthropy is not an opportunity but an obligation for those who seek meaningful impact. The PEXforum 2021 is a terrific place to start this interaction and contemplate new alliances. But we cannot stop here. We must utilise grand narratives like the fight against climate change to share strategies and evidence, build diverse institutional cooperation and overcome reputational risks.
Managing to do all of this in a virtual space is even more difficult than it would be anyways. One year into the pandemic, our human experiences of walking into a room and talking to people still far outweighs our practice of logging onto a zoom call. But by burning down a firework of different tools and methods to interact, Dafne, Ariadne and SenseTribe have shown us that we are learning and it is possible to engage in meaningful digital conversation with over 160 participants. In the breakouts, we have met people whom we would possibly not have on treaded physical paths and who have given us ideas for alliances that seemed unlikely before. Many seeds have been planted, and we are excited to see what will flourish and be ready to harvest at the PEXforum 2022.
Johannes Lundershausen and Daniel Großbröhmer of Active Philanthropy