Thinking long-term: foundations and the transition to a sustainable future

Updated: Sep 18

As we look for where financial resources will come from to kick-start the global path to 2030, we believe one group deserves more attention. Foundations – corporate and private, community and more prominent philanthropies - can be catalysts for risk-taking and supporting innovative solutions to the climate crisis. This group shows an increasing appetite to collaborate and positively impact climate change through climate philanthropy.

What is climate philanthropy?

Climate philanthropy as a field is emerging and changing all the time in response to new actors with significant commitments entering the space – such as the recent $10 billion pledge from the Bezos Earth Fund, $3.5 billion from Laurene Powell Jobs, or $1 billion from Hansjörg Wyss.

Yet detailed research into philanthropic support in 2020 shows only 2% of European funding and 0.5% of US philanthropic spending focused on climate change.

Foundations: the impatient optimists

Foundations of all kinds occupy a distinctive space in funding for change - their capital is deployed only to make a difference. This is a huge responsibility but also a liberating position. They can take the long-term view and make immediate action decisions, such as divesting from fossil fuel investments as many have done (including some of the largest like the Rockefeller Foundation).

How can these ‘Impatient Optimists’ – as Melinda French Gates and Bill Gates describe their work through the Gates Foundation – work together for the most significant impact?

How can the diverse foundation sector come together to catalyse climate change action?

We need innovative solutions for a sustainable world, there is no planet B. SDG Changemakers