Between 29 and 30 November, around 25 representatives of funders gathered for the 7th Annual meeting of the European Environmental Funders Group to connect with other foundations and stakeholders to share knowledge in the hope of finding new opportunities and synergies for collaborations.

Environmental funders had the chance to reflect with peers but also with representatives of Civil Society Organisations to reflect on political developments on environment, climate and energy agendas that helped identifying potential areas for philanthropic engagement at regional, national and/or European levels.

The key question was: How much time do we have to protect civilisation and save our planet? Experts say that we have between 15 and 30 years maximum to enable a radical, yet sustainable system change. This system change could be anything from structural change in the energy market to changes in the food system. Understanding the importance of the situation, there is now a need to invest in this system change and help a wide spectrum of different players mobilising to achieve it.

In recognising this unique opportunity, Europe can take advantage in leading the way and developing innovative yet sustainable ways to tackle the increasingly time sensitive issues. A new understanding of lifestyle and consumption have to be adopted and several starting points were identified such as, health, fiscal issues and trade.

Furthermore, international frameworks and agreements are key but more attention should be given to the small local initiatives that are already attempting to put system change into practice, and that should be replicated on a larger scale.

Funders also had the chance to reflect and discuss opportunities and downsides with organisations taking a different approach in facing the challenges, for example through law or capital markets to achieve some of the objectives related to environmental agendas.

But is there enough knowledge and awareness about the situation? Funders had the chance to explore with experts, psychological aspects of non-engagement/engagement of people, and how to challenge the normal way of talking about environment and climate change, as well as how to reach out to different groups.

At the end of the meeting funders took the time to digest the information exchanged, and identify connections with each other, discussing the issues raised and answers to challenges that characterises funders’ every day work, as well as remaining open questions that will feed the work of the group in the coming year.

For more information about the meeting and upcoming initiatives and topics for discussion of the European Environmental Funders Group contact Giulia Lombardi glombardi@efc.be at the EFC.