The world needs cohesive and collective action that connects different institutions and societies worldwide, each with their own bespoke and in-depth knowledge of their communities in the micro, to help solve problems such as the all-encompassing, all affecting and the increasingly tangible climate crisis in the macro. If we could activate this form of collaboration and momentum garnering, harnessing the potential of cooperative work and goodwill in a consistent and fair manner, we would be in a much better place to help heal some of our planet’s woes.
There is no doubt that improved frameworks are needed to enable collaborative action to help halt the climate crisis. We need the planet to come together to work to repair our ecosystems and renew our relationship with the biosphere into one that is reciprocal and balanced rather than exploitative and extractive. At the Big Give, we bring people and causes together to amplify support, create momentum and harness willpower to address the challenges we are facing. The match funding we help source doubles the funds raised by charities through pledges and donations. It is an effective response to societal problems and requires teamwork between a multitude of key players: charities working on the frontline with their insight and knowledge of their respective sectors, philanthropists who want to give and do so with impact and effectiveness, and the wider public who want to donate and support causes about which they care deeply. The positive results from working together are fantastic and the impact multiplied.
We held our first Green Match Fund in 2021, which was a huge success for its inaugural iteration: the campaign raised £1.8m for 112 best-in-class environmental organisations in 2021. We are thrilled to be holding our second Green Match Fund campaign this year starting #WorldEarthDay, April 22nd 2022, for one week. We hope we will build on last year’s success and thus become a pillar for funding and connecting incredible organisations working vigilantly to help curb the damage we are causing our planet.
In the report, ‘The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta review’, which was published in 2021, Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta underscored the urgent need for a new global framework to restructure our economic relationship with the biosphere to a more reciprocal, respectful, and most importantly, genuinely sustainable to curb our current path of catastrophic climate and biospheric destruction. Sir Partha’s thorough report analyses all the different areas in which we need to have a comprehensive change in our institutional structures and provides the methodology to go about changing it. He sets out a detailed blueprint for assessing the changes that need to be made and recommendations for a sustainable human relationship with the planet. The report discusses everything from education to regenerative farming to species extinction to behavioural biases, and so much more. It is a stark reminder of what we have already lost and a warning of what we face to lose if we don’t act urgently. The report offers staggering statistics, such as that the stock of natural capital per person declined by nearly 40 percent between 1992 and 2014, a period when produced capital per person doubled, and human capital per person increased by about 13 percent. Sir Partha speaks of the need to form a unilateral global body that deals with geopolitical decisions based on each the needs of every specific micro-biosphere, such as how to incentivize countries to protect their natural assets like rainforests and peatland and how we go about protecting shared natural assets such as open waters.
A body like this would need to include a democratic mixture of voices representative of communities around the world, especially those disproportionately affected by the effects of the climate crisis. This body would need climate activists, indigenous peoples, experts within the climate and biodiversity fields and representatives of key institutions from all around the world so that we ensured that that body was as inclusive, diverse and representative as possible and that it reflected a united approach. This may sound idealistic, but is idealism not what is needed now? Should we not be aiming for a more ideal situation than we are currently in? Keeping up a cohesive conversation between all voices on this subject, ensuring the global south and the poorest communities around the world who are already hardest hit by climate change are heard and urgently helped especially by countries in the west for example, who expend much more through consumerism and their carbon footprint. We must ensure that the necessary steps to keep within 1.5 degrees of warming are taken and that lifestyles are radically changed to halt biodiversity loss and totally redefine our relationship with the natural world.
There are constant discussions as to how we ensure the companies doing the most damage to the environment can truly change their ways. In 2021, ExxonMobil was pressured into taking on three climate activist directors on their board by activist shareholders who were not satisfied by Exxon’s action on climate and sustainability. This is hopefully a promising sign that climate action is moving to the top of the mainstream agenda and that no matter where your interests lie we all urgently have to step up and take the right action. The primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall often speaks about the notion of ‘thinking globally and acting locally’ as a helpful philosophy for the times in which we are living. This is a tonic for those in despair and overwhelmed with a sense of hopelessness, that every small action taken on a local level can and will have an effect globally. The Big Give, at its essence, approaches philanthropy in this way, in the sense of trying to bring in a collection of organisations to help causes locally and globally, working on the frontline in their respective niche areas.
The latest IPCC report, which was published in the last week of February, outlines the latest data surrounding the climate crisis. It was summarised well in the following way by climate activist Josephine Becker (@treesnpeace), ‘it is made clear that if we don’t act now within our lifetimes, entire countries will be made uninhabitable. However, there is hope if we act now. If global carbon emissions are halved by 2030, there is still a chance of staying within the crucial 1.5 degrees of warming. And even if we can’t, every single fraction of a degree of warming we prevent matters. Every single fraction of a degree prevented is lives saved. We cannot give up. This report shows us that everything will have to change – so much of the world already has. The nature of that change, however, is still up to us.’ The evidence we have available to us could not be more urgent and impresses the need to act swiftly to avoid the worst possible scenarios we might be heading towards.
At the Big Give, we are very much looking forward to our Green Match Fund 2022 coming up at the end of April and are so encouraged by seeing the amazing plethora of inspiring charities applying to take part once again. We are taking steps to get our own house in order and to ensure that we are using whatever small influence we might have within the charity and philanthropy sectors to encourage sustainability and environmentally conscious decisions in supply chains and operations. According to sustainability consultant Nick Perks, ‘Over 80% of the public are fairly concerned or very concerned about climate change (BEIS), and in the latest Newton Charity Investment Survey, 82% of responding charities believe it is their responsibility to think about climate change. In this fertile context, there are multiple ways that The Big Give can support and encourage philanthropists and charities towards effective action to cut emissions and to adapt to climate impacts.’ We are taking steps towards this through a carbon literacy training programme, building a bespoke environmental policy that fits our specific operations and a Climate Plan that would bring in other players, stakeholders and partners we work with.
Whilst the climate crisis, along with all other interconnected social justice issues, might seem hugely overwhelming, there is always hope. If we can bring organisations, causes and people together to do all that we can on a local and global level, if we choose hope and optimism over despair and despondency, we might just be able to live in a more peaceful and balanced world. May we remember our place in the natural world, the connectedness and intersection of all actions and beings, to collaborate and come together to help heal our planet.
Marina Windsor is Philanthropy Executive at The Big Give; she also works at Eco-nnect, where she is Head of Partnerships and co-hosts the podcast Eco-nnect Talks which interviews people doing a variety of interesting things in the climate and environmental sectors. Since studying French and Portuguese at Edinburgh University and enjoying living abroad in Paris and Brazil her third year, Marina has worked in a range of different roles substantially in the charity and arts sectors and spent a year in New York working for a management consultancy. Marina is now based in London and Cambridge and is passionate about film, theatre, dance, food, travel, nature, wellbeing, environmental and social justice issues.