Philanthropy commitments roll in as COP26 gets down to business


Charles Keidan


GLASGOW – Some of the world’s leading foundations are making their mark at the UN COP26 as the UN climate summit in Glasgow gets underway.

Yesterday, Dr Rajiv Shah, a former administrator of USAID and now president of the Rockefeller Foundation joined leaders from the IKEA Foundation, Bezos Earth Fund, World Bank and the government of Italy to launch a $10 billion commitment to support the renewable energy transition in 12 countries through a new body, the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet.

Speaking at the launch, Shah said, ‘This new Alliance will stand with dozens of energy-poor nations seeking to accelerate their energy transitions…’

It is understood that Rockefeller Foundation and IKEA Foundation will each contribute $500 million and that the Bezos Earth Fund, established by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, will be the third philanthropic organisation anchoring the initiative. Other investment partners include the African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and the European Investment Bank.

Elsewhere, during a busy day for climate philanthropy at COP, Jeff Bezos announced that the next $2 billion of the $10 billion committed to the Bezos Earth Fund would be directed towards transforming food systems and restoring natural habitats. Mr Bezos called the loss of Earth’s forests ‘a profound and urgent danger to us all,’ according to the New York Times. Commenting on his recent trip to space with his company, Blue Origin, Bezos noted that ‘…seeing the Earth from space changes the lens through which you view the world’.

The big-spending announcements of elite foundations, and the pooled funds managed by climate intermediaries, has led to larger foundations working more closely with governments, companies and international bodies. Some welcome the increasing visibility of philanthropy at the top table emphasising that collaboration across sectors is essential.

However, others have expressed concerns about the risk of polarisation in climate philanthropy. Writing in Alliance, Florence Miller of the UK’s Environmental Funders Network and Eva Rehse of the Global Greengrants Fund issue a call to ‘build bridges’ between ‘big players’ and the smaller foundations working alongside advocates for climate justice in the global south. ‘Our hope is that we can take the opportunity of this moment to collectively continue to shape climate philanthropy….relevant to the needs of this and future generations.’

For more on climate philanthropy at COP26 see, and follow @charleskeidan and @eroohi on Twitter.

Charles Keidan is Executive Editor at Alliance.

Tagged in: COP26

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