”Funding for the Environment” with the EFC’s European Environmental Funders Group
The Autumn Meeting of the EFC’s European Environmental Funders Group (EEFG) on 5-6 December 2019 provided the members of the network with a chance to reconnect, share and learn on areas of common interest related to funding for the environment.
With a new European Commission taking office and a renovated European Parliament, funders had the opportunity to get a general overview on the most pressing policy priorities, their possible implications and to discuss about their role of funders in this new key political moment. Participants had the chance to get an update of EU policy priorities on environment, discussing about the impact of sustainable finance on the environment and the implications of trade and investment policies. They also discussed the post 2020 agenda and the role that the philanthropic sector could play related to new global biodiversity targets for the next decade. It was an occasion for funders to connect with experts and stakeholders, to networking and share intelligence, and reflecting strategically upon opportunities for funding and collaboration.
The first discussion revolved around the most pressing policy priorities and their possible implications, as well as the role of funders in the new political scene of Europe. Matthieu Calame, Director, Fondation Charles Mayer Pour le Progrès de l’Homme moderated the discussion that saw Annika Hedberg, Senior Policy Analyst, European Policy Centre and Jeremy Wates, Secretary General, European Environmental Bureau open up on the key opportunities and policies of the new political scene. Annika stressed the need to place the climate crisis at the top of the agenda and highlight that the crisis, and the interlinked environmental challenges facing Europe are key drivers of other, more visible issues such as migration, inequality and security. Jeremy built upon these points, illustrating the opportunities of the European Green Deal, and the positives to be seen in the recent changes in the European Parliament and the new priorities of the Commission.
Astrid Manroth, Head of Sustainable Finance, European Climate Foundation opened up the next discussion that looked into sustainable finance, outlining the new opportunities on the horizon, such as the Green Finance Strategy, an upcoming initiative of the Commission to support sustainable finance. Astrid went on further to reinforce that financial actors, both public and private need to play a part too, along with the philanthropic sector, in supporting sustainable finance. Tom Jess, Policy Advisor, E3G referenced the gap in knowledge sharing regarding sustainable finance, and explained that this a role where philanthropy could have added value. Sebastian Rink, Green and Sustainable Financial Expert, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management rounded off discussions on the point of knowledge exchange, pointing out that this needs to involve both opening dialogue between the financial sector and real economy, along with both opening up to civil society on a level playing field.
The trade and investment policies of the European Union, and their consequences upon climate change and the environment formed the fulcrum of the third session of the meeting, which was moderated by Jon Cracknell, Director, JMG Foundation. Cornelia Maarfield, Project Manager, Climate Action Network Europe began the conversation by presenting some of the many contradictions between the EU’s trade and climate policies, referring to emissions from transport, free trade, over-consumption and exclusions from the Paris Agreement, along with analysing some of the challenges of the EU-Mercosur negotiations. Pia Eberhardt, Campaigner, Corporate Europe Observatory build upon this, sharing some case studies of legal cases related to Germany, Italy and the US and the dangers of treaties such as the Energy Charter Treaty for achieving a sustainable Europe.
The final session explored the role that the philanthropic sector could play in framing and financing new and ambitious global biodiversity targets for the next decade and the post 2020 agenda. Lynda Mansson, Director, Mava Foundation moderated and framed the discussion, highlighting that 2020 will be a critical year for establishing nature and the environment at the heart of society’s preoccupations and processes, in the wake of an unprecedented mobilisation for the environment from all sectors of society. Gavin Edwards, Global Coordinator Nature 2020, WWF International illustrated an overview of the socio-economic panorama and the greatest ecological challenges nature is facing nowadays. Gavin also highlighted the international political responses and the main decisions related to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the Global Ocean Treaty, SDG targets, and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Anne-Theo Seinen, Policy Officer for Biodiversity, DG Environment, European Commission finished the session stressing that changes need to be made now, both for the climate and nature, the drivers of climate change cannot be addressed in 20 year’s time.