In recent years we’ve all seen the damage caused by floods, fires and droughts increasing as climate change wreaks havoc on communities; and the vital role a healthy natural world plays in sustaining all else has never been more obvious. Yet in Australia only 2 per cent of philanthropic funding is directed towards tackling climate change and environmental issues.
The Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network (AEGN) is helping to change this by growing its network of philanthropists working to protect the environment.
“The membership is an absolute wealth of knowledge, advice and funding opportunities,” says AEGN’s CEO Amanda Martin OAM.
Its members – who oversee more than $2 billion in collective corpuses – have had several successes in recent years including pushing 45 of Australia’s biggest polluters to commit to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030, as well as funding ground-breaking climate litigation cases.
But the recent release of milestone reports such as the government’s State of the Environment and the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment have underlined the enormous scale of systemic change needed in less than a decade.
Australia has lost more species to extinction than any other continent with 19 ecosystems on the brink of collapse, according to the State of the Environment report.
“We're at a point in history where philanthropy can catalyse massive change and have a positive impact by supporting initiatives that might not otherwise be funded because philanthropy can take on more risk, innovate and advocate in ways other funding can’t,” Martin says.
To meet the moment, the AEGN is working to grow the network’s giving to climate and environmental causes from about $100 million currently to $550 million by 2025 and $2.5 billion by 2030.
The AEGN is supported by a number of trusts managed by Equity Trustees including the William Buckland Foundation, the Robert Hicks Foundation, and the Albert George and Nancy Caroline Youngman Trust.
“There's lots of impactful things that people who care about the environment can do – you can start small – and the AEGN is here to help anyone who's thinking about climate or environment funding because collectively we can achieve so much.”
The Robert Hicks Foundation – the only charitable trust out of around 650 managed by Equity Trustees that has a specific focus on climate change – has directly funded the AEGN’s climate lens work, which is currently in development. It helps other philanthropic funders consider how fighting climate change can be incorporated across their operations.
All funders are welcome to join the AEGN. You can find out more about the AEGN and their 2023-25 strategy here.