Just 3.75% Of Climate Change Investment Goes To Justice, Equity

Philanthropists are pledging staggering amounts to climate change solutions but drastically need guidance on climate justice and how to involve affected communities so people most harmed by dirty air, flooding and weather crises aren’t further marginalized.

Of about $1.6 billion in donations and investments in 2019 to support climate change endeavors, just $60 million was committed to justice and equity efforts — including affected Blacks, Latinx, Indigenous, disabled and people of color living in poorer sections of the U.S. and in the Global South in seeking solutions, according to data from ClimateWorks.

The findings are among those detailed in a guide titled “Centering Equity and Justice in Climate Philanthropy” released today by New York City-based Candid Learning, a part of the nonprofit Candid (formerly GuideStar) in collaboration with London-based Ariadne, a peer-to-peer network of more than 700 funds that support social change and human rights. Authored by Seema Shah, Ph.D., the guide is meant to educate philanthropists and foundations on how to build climate justice into their giving portfolios. It was funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in Menlo Park, Calif., and the Oak Foundation, which has five worldwide locations including Chapel Hill, N.C.

Key points in the research include:

  • Technical solutions are often called “false solutions” by climate justice leaders because of their tendency to favor symptoms of the climate crisis over its root causes and reflection of corporate and industry interests.
  • Those committed to climate justice understand that investing in direct action, community-based decision making, and organizing builds collective power on the ground and is often the catalyst needed to drive systemic change and challenge both corporate power and government inaction.
  • Entrenched power imbalances and inequitable grant-making practices mean that good ideas are left out of the conversation, especially those from directly impacted communities.
  • Invest in grassroots movements where locally-impacted people often have the best ideas and solutions because they live with the climate change consequences.

The guide’s author argued that too many philanthropists believe climate change solutions are up to scientists and want technical solutions or “silver bullets” and fast results instead of investing in “frontline defenders” who are impacted most by climate change but can be powerless due to lack of attention or onerous grant applications.

“It is important to acknowledge that most foundations, in some shape or form, have derived their wealth from extractive and exploitative economic practices that have caused harm to people and the planet. In addition, many philanthropies continue to have investment portfolios that include positions in fossil fuels and other extractive industries,” the guide’s authors point out.

Many intermediary nonprofits, including Climate Justice Alliance, Hive Fund for Climate and Gender Justice, Grassroots International and Global Greengrants Fund, as examples, have long integrated climate justice into their work and connected funders with communities. More recently, there are a growing number of foundations and funders that have sharpened their focus on climate justice and equity, including the McKnight Foundation in Minneapolis, Minn., and the Barr Foundation in Boston, Mass., according to information in the guide.

The report’s data was gleaned from previous research by various organizations along with interviews with 30 funders, practitioners, and field leaders who shared their insights on how grant-makers can incorporate climate justice into their portfolios. The author and researchers sought the perspectives of leaders from large, private foundations to smaller family foundations, as well as representatives from intermediaries and frontline organizations. Researchers also incorporated geographic diversity, with interviewees representing perspectives from the United States, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America.

The full report can be downloaded here …https://bit.ly/39aokNu