23 September 2020

Foundations can make a difference in the COVID-19 and climate crisis

This blog by Klaus Milke was originally published by Alliance magazine.

F20: Cooperate and leave your silo!

Continuity, the readiness for cooperation, credibility and a real convening power were cornerstones demonstrated by the platform Foundations 20 at the ‘F20 Climate Solutions Week’ from September 14-17. It was broadcasted from an online studio in Hamburg in direct connection with the head office of the King Khalid Foundation in Riyadh, involving speakers and an audience all over the world. So every day, we said ‘good morning, good afternoon and good evening’ to open the event. And a broad international community of foundations was watching.

Relevance – advocacy – commitment to our common future
The online format – due to the COVID 19 pandemic – worked well because F20 ensured for sufficient participation opportunities in the virtual room. This involved parallel discussion groups, participants offering contributions via the chat function as well as a virtual meeting room in the break and at the end for further networking.

The right balance of prominent keynote speeches and several panels involving diverse speakers was key for making the meeting a success. Politicians (such as Sheikh Hasina Wazed, the Prime Minister of  Bangladesh and Mr Olaf Scholz, the Vice Chancellor and Finance Minister of Germany) as well as representatives of financial institutions (like the World Bank, the Islamic Development Bank and the German Central Bank) contributed, but also experts from international organizations and think tanks (such as IRENA for Renewable Energy and prominent institutes from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) who highlighted the existing and most urgent solutions needed for a ‘Global Just Transition’.

Most important was the clear understanding that philanthropists and foundations should play a credible and ambitious role in a transformation that leaves no one behind and that they should address the challenges as strong agents for change.

Foundations – networks – alliances – joining forces
Speakers included Naila Farouky from the Arab Foundation Forum, Naina Batra, CEO of AVNP, the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network and Ronald Cohen from the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment. This broad discussion encouraged different professional communities to expand their perspectives. Nobody can solve the problems and challenges alone.

The F20 platform of foundations and philanthropists was founded in 2016 as Germany was taking over the presidency of the G20 ahead of the July 2017 G20 summit in Hamburg. Several German foundations saw the need to take a stand ahead of this important global gathering. By raising their voices, they sought to support and encourage political leaders by saying that ‘we will be part of the solution’. The focus is on implementing the UN 2030 Agenda’s SDGs and to push for more action to implement the Paris Climate Agreement.

The G20 Presidency of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be followed by the G20 Presidency of Italy, starting on December 1st of this year. F20 is already in contact with Italian foundations and networks, as well as with philanthropic organizations in the United Kingdom which has the G7 presidency next year and will also host the postponed UN Climate Conference, the COP 26.

Nevertheless, it is crucial to follow up with actors in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia so as not to lose momentum.

COVID-19 – G20 and vulnerable 20 – what is needed this year
In the spirit of ‘More Resilience – Recovering Better’, the foundations of the F20 platform concluded its fourth High-Level Event last week  by issuing a communiqué listing 14 detailed recommendations to the Heads of State, Ministers of Finance and Central Bank Governors of the G20 countries.

The document states that the more than 60 partners of the F20 platform are fully engaged in addressing the negative effects of the Covid-19 crisis and highlights the close relationship with the global climate and biodiversity crisis and the need to transform the global food and health systems.

The headline of the recommendations is ‘Response Ability 2020’. This means: G20 countries must take the lead and redirect financial flows to solve the Global Climate, Biodiversity and COVID Crises and acknowledge the close relationship with transforming the global food and health system.

In the seven sessions, it became clear that fighting the COVID-19 virus requires strong national measures – but even more so, it requires globally coordinated and inclusive responses to redirect financial flows to fight the global climate and biodiversity crisis and transform the global food and health systems.

There is neither time nor are there resources to address those challenges in isolation or with fragmented approaches. The G20 must take responsibility to lead and act – and they have the potential to do so.

You can watch again the event  here.

Klaus Milke is Chairman of the Steering Group of the international platform ‘Foundations20’ with the background as Founder and Chairman of  Stiftung Zukunftsfähigkeit/Foundation for Sustainability.