16 November 2022

600 philanthropy organisations around the world commit to climate action

Six hundred foundations and other philanthropy organisations spread across 23 countries have committed to taking climate action as part of a growing global movement within the philanthropy sector.

The organisations form part of Philanthropy For Climate a fast-growing global movement that consists of national climate philanthropy ‘commitments’ (pledges with concrete actions) in several countries – Canada, France, Italy, Spain, and the UK – and an International Philanthropy Commitment on Climate Change for foundations in other countries. 

“We are excited to see increasing numbers of foundations around the world, many of whom do not work on climate change directly, commit to taking climate action. Last year before COP26 there were around 350 signatories, and now we have reached 600 during COP27. There’s a growing understanding within the philanthropy sector that climate change will affect all organisations, no matter where you are and what you work on,” says Benjamin Bellegy, the Executive Director of WINGS, a global network of organisations that work to grow, strengthen and transform philanthropy. 

This philanthropic climate movement started in the UK in 2019, expanded into Europe in 2020, and then further expanded internationally in 2021. It calls on all foundations, regardless of their mission, status or geographic location to commit to climate action which it sees as a serious risk to the pursuit of philanthropic aims everywhere. Organisations are encouraged to take action across several different areas or ‘pillars’ and are provided with a guide for the sorts of actions they can take.

“With world leaders, business and civil society representatives gathered in Sharm el-Sheikh, we are acutely aware of the pressing need for climate action and implementation of agreements and pledges. The coming months and years will be decisive. We are delighted to see a growing number of foundations, that differ in their missions, size, scope and geographic location, committed to urgent climate action. The work of every foundation impacts on and is impacted by the climate crisis – if we act now, we can each play our part in ensuring a fair and healthy future for the planet and the people who inhabit it,” says Delphine Moralis, CEO of Philea.

The movement has a wide range of signatories, from the well-known Hewlett Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in the US and the IKEA Foundation in Europe, to those in the Global South like the African Climate Foundation (working across a few countries), Belantara Foundation in Indonesia and Instituto Clima e Sociedade in Brazil, to community foundations like the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation in Australia. Work is being done to consistently increase the number of signatories and to encourage the development of more national-level commitments.

Despite an increase in giving to climate change mitigation in the last year, total giving to climate change mitigation from individuals and foundations still represents less than 2% of global philanthropic giving, according to the ClimateWorks Funding trends 2022 report.

“Philanthropy will not solve the climate emergency by itself but we can play a critical and transformational role if we leverage all of our strengths: our $1.5 trillion in financial assets, our capacity to innovate, to connect actors, to support advocacy and social movements, to take risks and to influence mainstream markets and governments”, says Bellegy.

Organisations interested in signing a commitment or finding out more can visit www.philanthropyforclimate.org.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

  • Examples of actions taken by climate commitment signatories
  1. Australia: The Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation from Australia has always worked on reducing homelessness and providing just economic opportunities for the people of Melbourne. When they realised that the effects of climate change like heatwaves, droughts, floods, and food shortages would directly affect their community, they started creating programmes that would tackle climate AND provide better conditions for lower-income families. For example, they started focusing on housing projects with high energy efficiency. Houses that are more energy efficient produce less GHG emissions, which is good for the planet, and they offer better living conditions, especially in winters and summers, which is good for people. Current low-income housing doesn’t have many energy efficiency criteria.
  1. Brazil: The Alana Institute promotes children’s rights to development and fosters new forms of well-being. They initially worked on community service projects for children and after creating a programme on the impacts of consumerism on childhood, they started seeing the link between children’s rights and climate change. They realised that while youth movements are already a key stakeholder in the global climate debate, children are rarely included in these debates. Furthermore, children’s rights to have contact with an ecologically balanced environment, as established by the Brazilian Federal Constitution, are not being met if climate change continues to destroy nature.  Alana was one of the several non-profit organisations and political parties that filed various lawsuits against the Brazilian government due to its anti-climate agenda. Alana’s policy briefs about children’s right to nature were used to inform the Court’s decision.
  2. The Netherlands: The European Cultural Foundation was set up in 1954 to develop and support cultural initiatives throughout Europe to strengthen a European sentiment. As a foundation whose mission focuses on culture and education, the European Cultural Foundation did not work specifically on climate until 2021. Over the last years, they have worked to minimise their internal practices such as their operational footprint. The European Cultural Foundation has also included a climate lens into their cultural programmes, like the Europe Challenge, and are a partner in EU-funded projects including CRaFt, a project to enable cities to become climate-neutral, beautiful and inclusive, and the New European Bauhaus.

WINGS is a global network of 197 organisations across 58 countries that works to grow, strengthen and transform philanthropy to ensure that it reaches its fullest potential as a catalyst for social progress.

Philea nurtures a diverse and inclusive ecosystem of foundations, philanthropic organisations and networks in over 30 countries that work for the common good. It unites over 10,000 public-benefit foundations that seek to improve life for people and communities in Europe and around the world. Philea’s purpose is to harness philanthropy’s immense multidimensional potential, including in the field of climate.

  • For more information or to arrange interviews with signatories or the WINGS Executive Director or Philanthropy for Climate Coordinator (who is at COP27) please contact:

Zubair Sayed, Director of Communication at WINGS at zsayed@wingsweb.org

Issued by WINGS and Philea

Contact

Angela Pauly
Head of Communications
angela.pauly@philea.eu