Can we go a bit faster?

Caroline Hartnell

Caroline HartnellPeople may question why Alliance is devoting an issue to climate change. After all, we don’t see ourselves as a magazine that deals with single issues, however important. The reality is becoming all too clear: climate change is not a single issue, it’s an issue that will affect all the work funders support – poverty, social justice, global health, the lot.

The urgency of the situation is beginning to be reflected in the foundation world. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s 2005 Annual Report opens with a seven-page essay entitled ‘Solutions to Global Warming: A National Conversation We Desperately Need to Have’. The July issue of APPC Post is largely devoted to climate change, under the heading ‘Tackling THE global environmental issue’. Climate change was on the agenda of all this year’s big philanthropy conferences – the Global Philanthropy Forum, the Council on Foundations, the European Foundation Centre. The newly formed Climate Change Philanthropy Action Network held its second meeting in London in early July.

In other words, the philanthropic community is at last waking up to the threat of climate change. But, as with most of the rest of us, this is happening rather late in the day. It is ironic that Rory Tolentino should write, in APPC Post, that ‘the frequency and intensity of discussions centred on the topic has made “climate change” a household term’ when action to address the issue has been so slow in coming.

But things are happening, and this issue of Alliance highlights some of the best examples, and how foundations have been supporting them. One thing that stands out is the fact that climate change gives foundations the chance to play the role they so often claim to want: to provide highly leveraged funding that brings benefits way beyond the resources applied.

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Can we do better?

Caroline Hartnell