Climate Funders are Focusing on Resilience, See a List of the Top Six Here

According to an article by Inside Philanthropy, resilience has become the hot new focus among key climate funders.

The article states: “Climate change has been a top issue in philanthropy since the mid-2000s, to the point that it’s difficult to find a foundation with an environment program that doesn’t include it at least as a subprogram (the large exception being the Walton Family Foundation). Same goes for nonprofits. The bulk of this giving tends to focus on efficiency, clean energy, public transit, etc. Which makes sense, since the overwhelming recommendation from scientists is that we have to stop pumping so much carbon into the atmosphere. But there’s a segment of climate change philanthropy that’s sending a warning about the grim reality that at least some of these hugely disruptive threats to our systems are coming, no matter what. Programs for ‘climate adaptation’ or ‘climate resilience’ have taken hold in recent years, whether it’s due to political stagnation, stubborn public denial of the problem, or warnings that we’re already past the point of no return.”

And that’s where these foundations come in. They’re not moving away from the traditional climate initiatives like reducing greenhouse gases or planting trees or changing their buildings to operate on recycled water – they’re simply expanding on their approach, recognizing that some consequences of climate change may be inevitable, and preparing for them so they’re ready when those disastrous consequences strike.

1) The Rockefeller Foundation

The Rockefeller Foundation has made news with its 100 Resilient Cities campaign, a $100 million pledge to improve the resiliency of cities around the world so they can better withstand crises. The campaign is also known now for creating a brand new job role for each of these 100 cities, a chief resilience officer, to oversee and maintain resilience work.

According to the article, the Rockefeller Foundation has given almost 180 grants from its Climate Change Resilience Program since 2007 – so they’ve been on the resilience bandwagon for a while. The foundation focuses largely on the developing world, helping people combat the climate change effects to come, and the ones they’re already facing.

2) The Kresge Foundation

The article explains how the Kresge Foundation focuses on social justice and how climate change will unfairly affect the poor. They work on creating place-based solutions that can be used as models for other cities. They recently revamped their environment program and made resilience its new main goal.

The article also quotes a 2012 report from the Kresge Foundation: “As recently as five years ago, climate change adaptation was regarded as taboo – akin to giving up on the climate crisis. It is fair to say that the nascent field of climate change adaptation has since gained widespread acceptance. Despite continuing debate in the U.S., public and professional acceptance of the need to address the impacts of climate change proactively has been increasing.”

3) The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Rockefeller and Kresge are most definitely the top two foundations that actively focus on climate resilience/adaptation and make it a main priority. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation slides into third with its conservation program.

According to the article, the MacArthur Foundation revised its conservation program in 2011 to incorporate “climate change mitigation and adaptation” as one of its four issues to focus on. So while it’s not a main goal, it is part of an overall environmentally-focused program.

Some of MacArthur’s recent grants have gone toward fostering resilience. The article explains:

“NatureServe, for example, is a frequent grantee of MacArthur’s, receiving more than $2 million since 2003. Some of that funding has gone to resilience, in particular in South America, one of its geographic priorities. Another interesting recent grant went to the RAND Corporation, another regular grantee, to develop metrics to gauge the level of preparedness in state and local governments. And EcoAdapt, a Bainbridge Island, WA-based nonprofit solely devoted to this subject received $400,000 to hold a National Adaptation Forum.”

4) The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

This foundation focuses mostly on conservation in regard to protecting the Amazon, the marine world and combating deforestation. The foundation is also a member of the Climate and Land Use Alliance.

Climate adaptation as it relates to environmental funding has become part of the foundation’s grants. The article notes some examples:

“Moore has given a couple of grants to EcoAdapt, to incorporate climate change adaptation into Marine Spatial Planning, a big priority for the foundation. The funder also gave nearly a million to the Pepperwood Foundation, a wildlife preserve, to develop climate adaptation conservation strategies in the San Francisco Bay Area. And nearly $1.8 million went to the Sonoma Land Trust, in part to prepare for climate change.”

5) Surdna Foundation

The Surdna Foundation partly focuses on sustainable environments. It works toward revamping infrastructure to improve necessary systems like water, food and transportation. The foundation also supports some climate adaptation and resilience programs, such as the Institute for Sustainable Communities (which the Kresge and MacArthur foundations have also funded) to help fund a program for reducing emissions in cities and build up climate resilience.

6) Community Foundations

Some of the most notable funding is coming from smaller community foundations. People are concerned about the climate change effects that might hit their own cities and towns, particularly in coastal areas. The Community Foundation of Sonoma County, the San Francisco Foundation, the San Diego Foundation, the Rhode Island Foundation and the Vermont Community Foundation are all looking ahead at how best to keep their cities resilient through the years to come when the effects of climate change may be severely damaging.

Rather than just trying to curb the factors that contribute to climate change (which of course is still all well and good), these foundations are anticipating the scenarios cities may be facing in the not-too-distant future, and funding plans to withstand those scenarios. It will be interesting to see if more foundations adopt this approach of adapting to climate change and building resilience against its effects.


For the original article we quoted from, click here: