The COVID-19 crisis has dramatically changed our world, in so many ways. Things will never be the same again. The first task is to save lives. The next challenge is, in the words of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, to ‘build back better’.
The climate change crisis is, like the COVID-19 crisis, a global crisis that affects us all. The countries, organisations and individuals with the greatest resources have a particular responsibility in mitigating climate change. Responding to this other crisis facing us, funders throughout Europe have stepped up to sign commitments pledging their support for climate change initiatives.
If ‘those who have already fallen behind also have to bear the cost of transition, there is an imminent risk that we will fail in this historically important task’ (World Economic Forum).
During the COVID-19 crisis, many philanthropic funders have acted quickly to provide emergency relief and to help their partners and communities. We have learnt to be bolder, to collaborate more, to act faster. We can take the best of this learning into our future work.
Similar momentum is building up with climate change: Funders are already acting on climate change and pledging to do more. Over 40 foundations have signed the UK Funder Commitment on Climate Change facilitated by the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF), and more than 40 foundations in Spain are involved in a similar initiative launched by the Asociación Española de Fundaciones (AEF). The Centre Français des Fonds et Fondations (CFF) is setting up the French Funder Commitment on Climate Change.
We were warned for many years about the risks of a global pandemic. We have also known for many years about the risks of climate change and we know the changes that are needed now: including clean energy, clean transport, healthier diets, sustainable farming, protecting nature, less waste.
Crises, like COVID-19, create a ‘window of engagement’, where people are more open to change their attitudes towards wider issues, a unique opportunity to take action on climate change. The investments that governments, businesses and philanthropy make as we emerge from the pandemic, can help shape a cleaner, healthier future.
All foundations, whatever our charitable mission and field of expertise, can play a part in addressing climate change, and building a safer and better future for everyone. We call on all foundations and foundation networks to support the growth of national Funder Commitments on Climate Change.
The Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF), Spanish Association of Foundations (AEF), French Association of Foundations (CFF), Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe (DAFNE), and Global Dialogue all contributed to this piece.
Acknowledgement: The European, French and Spanish work on the funder commitment on climate change is made possible by the generous support of Fondation Daniel and Nina Carasso (France and Spain).