Global Green Deal – What is the Role of Foundations and Philanthropy?

(Participants: Klaus Milke, Frans Timmermanns, Sylke Freudenthal, Carola Carazzone, Sandra Breka, Eckart von Hirschhausen, Giles Ruck, Vidya Shah)

On June, 7th, the Foundations Platform F20 opened this year’s (virtual) assembly of the Federal Association of German Foundations with a very uplifting and insightful high-level panel on questions related to the Green Deal, Climate Action and the role of foundations and philanthropy. Some 4.500 German foundations are a member of the association. Speakers included:

  • Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of the EU Commission,
  • Eckart von Hirschhausen, TV presenter, journalist and founder of Healthy Planet, Healthy People Foundation
  • Vidya Shah, Chairperson and CEO of the Edelgive Foundation
  • Carola Carazzone, Chairwoman of the European foundation network Dafne
  • Sandra Breka, Member of the Board of Management of the Robert Bosch Foundation
  • Sylke Freudenthal, Board of the Veolia Foundation
  • Giles Ruck, Chief Executive of the Foundation Scotland

The panel was moderated by F20 Chair Klaus Milke and was meant to help ensure considerable progress at this year’s G7 and G20 summits. Obviously, foundations and philanthropists can be part of the solution and have a crucial role to play which was also clearly stated by Mr Timmermans: “Especially, with Germany taking over the G7 presidency next year, you have a special responsibility here, but as a strong economic and industrial country there are very good prerequisites!” Klaus Milke responded that “European responsibility is also our responsibility. As foundations, an ambitious implementation of the European Green Deal must be a concern for all of us in civil society. Otherwise there will be no Global Green Deal at all.”

Mr Hirschhausen warned that “we are sliding unchecked into the climate crisis. That’s mainly our problem, as the human species. We don’t have to save the earth, we have to save ourselves. There are only healthy people on a healthy earth!”

Ms Shah from Edelgive Foundation in India: “We in India have started a new and more intense climate debate in the philanthropic community in recent months. More transformative cooperation in the sense of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement between Europe and with India and other parts of the world is essential.”

Carola Carrazone, Dafne: “Europeans should work together, including philanthropists and the entire spectrum of foundations. And the foundation associations of Europe can and must do even more for a Just Transition in the countries of Europe but also at the higher EU level.”

Sandra Breka from the Robert Bosch Foundation pointed out the urgency of aligning investments and recovery programs after the COVID crisis with the global sustainability goals, i.e. the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement.

Sylke Freudenthal from the Veolia Foundation highlighted the diverse potentials where foundations can contribute to climate neutrality and be part of the solution: “In their daily activities and in their core business, all actors in civil society have a number of approaches where they can act in a more climate-friendly way. “

Giles Ruck, Foundation Scotland, drew the link to the upcoming climate conference, the COP 26 in Glasgow: “Above all, what has been decided globally in terms of climate and sustainability must be implemented locally. Community foundations play an important role in executing and multiplying this. It’s great that we can join forces in networks like Foundations 20 and learn from each other! “