Sharing insights, experiences and ideas on how philanthropy can permanently shift power and resources to the Global South
A central part of the CJ-JT Donor Collaborative is taking philanthropy on a learning journey to understand the need to permanently shift power and resources at scale to those on the front lines of injustice.
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NEW BLOG POST #10
‘To Meet This Moment, We Need to Fund Youth at Scale.’ Reflections on the evolution of the youth climate funding landscape
We are currently witnessing catastrophic impacts of climate breakdown and record breaking temperatures, a preview of what is to come if we continue on this path of ‘business as usual’. As youngish climate activists and social entrepreneurs who have spent our twenties working to support youth-led climate action around the world, we believe that funding youth at scale is vital in order to meet this moment.
Young people bring unparalleled passion and innovation to climate action, especially in ensuring that efforts to mitigate and adapt to rising global temperatures are rooted in justice. Whether it’s leading adaptation to climate impacts, working with governments to raise ambition on climate action through climate councils or creating new approaches and solutions, youth are leading the intersectional movement, transforming communities, and centering equity and justice – all while holding the feet of the powerful to the fire.
In regions across the Global South, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, where 70% of the population is under the age of 30*, youth are an especially powerful force. Yet, climate philanthropy has been slow to meaningfully respond to their needs. Only 0.76% of climate funding from 2019 to 2021 made its way to youth climate movements, with most of these resources going to North American and European groups. It’s clear that despite operating on a shoestring budget – if on any budget at all – youth, especially in the Global South, are delivering outsized impacts.
Tides are turning
There may be a long way to go before youth-led movements and solutions are adequately funded, but we are on the right track. We say this as “Elder Youths,”** a term we jokingly use to refer to ourselves after years of working within the youth climate movement and now supporting the growth of the next generation of youth activists and organisations. As long-time collaborators who have each co-founded our own climate organisations, Youth Climate Lab (YCL) and Green Africa Youth Organization (GAYO), before Greta Thunberg and Fridays for Future even began striking, we’ve witnessed some significant changes in the youth climate funding landscape.
When we were first starting out, we often had to explain to funders why youth should be at the table in the first place. For Southern-based organisations like GAYO, the little funding that was available to youth was going to peer organisations in the North, and there were no empowering opportunities to engage with climate philanthropy directly without having to go through Northern-based organisations. Now, we’re seeing some signals that things are finally headed in the right direction. The discourse is moving beyond having youth at the table, but is now about how to resource them, and doing so on their own terms.
An exciting sign of progress is the launch of the new Youth Climate Justice Fund (YCJF), a new initiative that offers youth-to-youth funding. Major philanthropies have come together to capitalise the YCJF, as well as other youth-led funds like FRIDA Fund and the Harbour, who are distributing resources and building capacity for youth, by the youth. We are also witnessing a flourishing of opportunities and organisations who are aiming to build the capacity and increase the resources that make it to youth. But, is it enough?
Far too many young activists and leaders are still not getting adequately compensated and/or properly resourced for their work, most of them having to balance their climate activism on top of their school, family, work, and other obligations. It is still too common that youth are not being trusted with the resources that are necessary to lead the change they know is needed. And of course, there continues to be the issue at the heart of the problem: most youth groups are too under capacity, new, or simply not registered legal entities to receive large philanthropic funds. Intermediaries such as FRIDA and YCJF are proving the positive impact of funding, and trusting, youth, but the demand is still exceeding the supply. With 95% of climate philanthropy going to male and white-led organisations in the Global North, how do we collectively shift power and resources to youth-led climate action in the Global South?
To create the change we need to see in the youth climate funding landscape, we need greater cooperation and collaboration
Earlier this summer, the Climate Justice-Just Transition Donor Collaborative (CJJT), alongside Adeso, GAYO, Southern Africa Trust (SAT), Southern Africa Youth Forum (SAYoF) and YCJF co-convened over 40 youth, changemakers, and donors to explore this question. The retreat culminated an almost year-long co-design process addressing a key gap inhibiting progress: there is currently no formal, long-term philanthropic infrastructure convening and coordinating existing and emerging Global South-based funders who are, or want to, increase funding to youth-led climate action.
The retreat planted seeds for the beginnings of a new Global South Youth Regranters Network, which could facilitate greater information-sharing, lesson-learning, and coordination among those working to support and fund youth. It was a space for connection and collaboration, where participants shared their respective and collective efforts and best practices, and field-led organisations could connect directly to the donors in the room. We are incredibly excited for the ongoing efforts underway by the co-convenors and our broader community to continue this momentum. Coming together presented a huge opportunity and a meaningful step toward creating a lasting infrastructure to permanently shift power and resources to youth-led climate action in the Global South. This is the key to fund youth at scale, allowing them to truly lead the way toward a brighter and more sustainable future for all.
For more information and details on the Youth Regranters Network, please see: https://climatejusticecollab.org/youth-funders-network/
* United Nations. “Young People’s Potential, the Key to Africa’s Sustainable Development”. Source.
**A term we coined at Youth Climate Lab as Ana Gonzalez Guerrero and I built and transitioned out of the organization.
Authored by Joshua Amponsem and Dominique Souris
Indigenous Peoples Should be Leaders of Climate Action, Not Victims of Climate Policies.
The impact of climate change is felt worldwide, but it disproportionately affects Indigenous peoples who have been historically marginalized and excluded from decision-making processes. Despite contributing the least to the climate crisis, Indigenous communities have been the most affected by its devastating consequences. They are crucial leaders in climate action, possessing a wealth of traditional knowledge and sustainable practices. It is imperative that Indigenous peoples are given the support, resources, and recognition they deserve, especially with respect to climate finance and philanthropy, to ensure that Indigenous Peoples are not left behind in the structures and decision-making processes of climate finance and philanthropy.
Throughout history, Indigenous peoples have faced marginalization and exclusion from decision making processes, including access to resources and support. This exclusion extends to climate finance, where Indigenous communities often struggle to access the necessary funding and resources to address the impacts of climate change. This lack of support hinders their ability to implement sustainable practices and protect their ancestral lands and territories. It has also been witnessed and observed over the years that the perspective of Indigenous peoples have not been taken into consideration and they have not been actively and meaningfully included in the decision-making process. This has resulted in faulty climate policies that make them further marginalised and vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis.
While Indigenous peoples contribute the least to the climate crisis, they have been at the forefront of climate action through their indigenous worldview, sustainable way of living, and traditional knowledge and practices. Indigenous communities have maintained a deep connection to the land and have acted as custodians and stewards of forests and biodiversity. They possess invaluable knowledge about sustainable resource management, ecosystem restoration, and climate adaptation that can benefit society as a whole.
Indigenous peoples have been instrumental in preserving the world’s biodiversity. Despite constituting less than 5% of the global population, they safeguard approximately 80% of the Earth’s biodiversity through their stewardship of forests and natural habitats. Indigenous communities have a profound understanding of the delicate balance between humans and nature, and their sustainable practices promote the conservation of ecosystems, which is crucial for mitigating climate change.
To ensure the effective protection of the environment and address the challenges posed by climate change, it is essential to support and allocate resources to Indigenous peoples and their ongoing initiatives and movements. Climate finance should be directed towards Indigenous-led initiatives that prioritize sustainable development, community resilience, and the preservation of cultural heritage. By supporting their work, we not only empower Indigenous communities but also preserve, support and promote their valuable knowledge and experiences.
Rights over their land, forest and territories are fundamental for Indigenous peoples’ self-determination and sustainable development. Many Indigenous communities face encroachment on their lands, often leading to deforestation, resource extraction, and the loss of cultural heritage. Climate finance must prioritize recognizing and protecting the land and forest rights of Indigenous peoples. This involves engaging Indigenous communities in decision-making processes regarding the allocation of funds and allowing them to determine their own priorities and strategies for climate action.
Indigenous peoples must be meaningfully included in climate finance decision-making processes. Their perspectives, knowledge, and practices should be respected, valued, and integrated into climate policies and strategies. Indigenous leaders and organizations should have a seat at the table in international and national climate discussions to ensure that their voices are heard and their priorities are taken into account.
It is crucial to support Indigenous communities by providing access to climate finance and philanthropic resources. By recognizing their rights, engaging them in decision-making processes, and allocating funds to their ongoing work, we can ensure that Indigenous peoples are not left behind in climate finance and philanthropy. They must be at the forefront of climate action, leading the way towards a sustainable and resilient future for all. Indigenous Peoples should be leaders of Climate Actions and not victims of Climate Policies.
Authored by Archana Soreng
ANDRÉIA COUTINHO LOUBACK
Why Black Lives Matter Even More to Philanthropy
Climate justice is one of the most urgent challenges humanity faces across nations and racial geographies. These two words — climate and justice —- reveal political struggles, racial, and social inequalities that are especially faced in the global south. They truly demonstrate where we are coming from, the pathway we must pursue and what is needed to achieve it.
I am a young, Black and Latin American woman from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I am also a first generation college student in my family. Undoubtedly, my world standpoint is based on all principles of justice, equality, and representation. In my home country, a young Black person dies every 23 minutes, because justice is not measured equally across all population groups and the realities they face. Longevity is not just a matter of survival, it is a racial privilege for the betterment or detriment of society.
In addition to various political reasons, I feel my lifetime is at a risk. My timeline to fight for climate justice demands my resistance and courage. It is crucial that I speak out and reinforce, time and again, why the injustices in climate disproportionately affect young Black lives and threaten our futures.
A Roadmap of Systemic Injustices
The Latin America continent is a key case study that can help us to understand how climate change structures poorness, social inequalities, and historical gaps. Firstly, because of the influence of colonialism, it still remains in the 20 countries. Secondly, because the economy of the continent is based on the extraction and exportation of natural resources. Thirdly, because we hold the most important worldwide biodiversity as a result of the Amazon forest. Climate injustices are at the heart of our lack of access to land, energy, water, democracy and environmental protection.
Additionally, Brazil is not just the biggest country of Latin America, but it also accounts for the highest Black population outside the African continent. According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), approximately 56% of the entire population in the country is composed of Black people, yet this racial group is underrepresented at the National Congress and many other decision-making spaces.
Across all the oppressions and human rights violations, the racial geography of Brazil is one of the pertinent examples of what it means to live in the favelas (slums), peripheral areas, suburbians, quilombos (maroon communities), riverside and indigenous communities.
What is crucial is how the lack of climate justice public policies are accelerating deaths and denying the civil rights of the Black people, locally and regionally across Brazil. From the loss of dignity to the lower chances of structural adaptation, climate change is a stark reality faced by Black people and African communities in the diaspora. It has worsened mental and physical health, food insecurity, water and energy injustices, droughts running rampant and children and youth hopes for a better future.
Black Lives Matter to Whom?
It is crucial to map the main countries that are being more affected by climate change and at the same time are participating less in the main climate policy decisions and negotiations. Which means that climate impacts demand an intersectional approach to understand how the oppressions faced are not siloed. More than an academic concept, intersectionality is a tool to facilitate an understanding of how climate and racial challenges overlap.
If we ask what does climate justice mean for Black people, we would collect thousands of different answers and responses. Climate justice can be analyzed differently according to climate events that occur in distinct ways depending on where on Earth you are, and social needs follow the same path. The principle of historical responsibility has to be consistent to those who have been marginalized as a result of colonization and slavery. On the contrary, on a national and global scale, we will reproduce all the social, economic, and political factors that contribute to the problem. And, to this place, we do not want to return.
The Power of Antiracist Climate Finance
Amid challenges and opportunities, it took me a while to finally have courage enough to develop and structure my climate justice dream here in Brazil. My very first insight was based in my restlessness around how philanthropic organizations, funds, and resources can also be excluding to Black people. One problem we encounter is the language obstacle to argue, request, and build connections with the Global North community. Hopefully, more initiatives like Climate Justice-Just Transition Donor Collaborative (CJJT) are mapping and striving to break down those barriers with actions and resources.
Back to my climate justice dreams. I bravely decided to create the first-of-its-kind Center for Climate Justice to act on political incidents focused on the Black population in Brazil. When I say “bravely” it is not about myself, it is about more than 205 million of Black folks across this deeply unequal country. Our mission is to spread and build the public’s understanding of what climate justice means for the Black population in Brazil. The ambitious vision is to become the first community-driven and cutting-edge multidisciplinary research center for racial and climate justice in Brazil. We believe in multiple communications tools and evidence-based strategies to spread, integrate, and popularize knowledge on the intersection of climate, and racial justice.
Funders and global philanthropic communities can innovate and decolonize the routes and approaches of traditional grantmaking. Which means, as a result, climate finance can become an instrument to promote climate justice locally, regionally and globally.
Ultimately, capacity building, knowledge management and racial-responsive means of implementation must be a priority at all resource strategic planning. The more diverse the spaces are, the more voices we have, we can embrace a systemic view that addresses the realities of nations. This is a non-negotiable standpoint to move the structures of our societies.
Elevating the importance of Black lives in philanthropy is one of the highest priorities. If climate and racial justice are at a crossroads, what is your historical responsibility and commitment to?
Authored by Andréia Coutinho Louback
Funding Should Accelerate Our Work, Not Impede It: Reflections from a Climate Justice Activist
The climate justice movement, as any other movement, needs resources to be able to operate. From the grassroot organizing of climate mobilizations, if we want to make our voices louder, we need a megaphone, if we want to portray our messages, we need signs, if we want to move from one side to the other, we need transportation, and as our objectives become more complex and specific, we need different types of resources – tools that allow us to amplify our work. Money, for instance, is one of them. How is it then, that it can become so problematic?
As a climate justice advocate from the Global South that has participated in different activist spaces and movements, I keep seeing how funding can quickly become a source of conflict and division, even triggering the breakup of entire projects. There are many issues that play into this, but for me the two most outstanding ones are: first, the unequal power dynamics that exist between funders and grantees (and how these interactions can foster movement disparities), and second, how our movements unintentionally tend to replicate the same structures that we are fighting against, such as capitalism, extractivism, individualism and grind culture.
First: unequal power dynamics
Let’s start by examining where most of the climate movement’s funding comes from: philanthropists and foundations. Philanthropists are people who have a lot of money and decide to use it for a common good. But we should remember that under capitalism, there is no ethical way to achieve such amounts of wealth, and therefore their commitment to redistribute their resources is actually the very first step towards what every person in such a position should be doing, and the ultimate goal is that they stop existing, as well as the systems that enabled them to become that rich. Foundations, on the other hand, are non-profit or charitable institutions that distribute funding to specific causes, they act as regranters and their money usually comes from wealthy families or individuals (aka philanthropists), companies, governments or other foundations. Both work hand in hand, moving millions of dollars every year.
But who exactly are the people behind these donations? If you do a quick search on your browser with the word “philanthropists”, you’ll find that most of the results have a similar profile: people from an older generation, white, cis men, from Global North countries, notoriously wealthy. And these profiles differ greatly from the people that are leading the youth climate movement, especially in the Global South. We are wildly different, and so when we get into conversations together, these differences play an inevitable role.
Funders often have their own agendas, they think the climate fight should be carried out in certain ways, whether it’s massive media presences, attending international conferences, supporting green parties, investing on big tech, among others. Sadly, many of them lack an understanding of the actual struggles that front line communities face on the ground, as well as our needs and desires, and the ways in which we organize. As a result, they tend to only fund initiatives that are aligned with their personal or institutional agendas. I don’t think this is necessarily negative, until funders try to influence the way movements operate, commenting on their political values, rushing their internal procedures, forcing media statements to publicize the support given, and even propitiating hurtful dynamics among movements.
What’s there to do then? In my opinion, we need to question the ways in which philanthropy operates, and push for diversifying their mechanisms and approaches from a justice, equity and community angle. Funders should work collaboratively with us to define the success indicators after providing funding for a determined project, it’s not all about dominating the mainstream headlines. What is the purpose of big media presence if we don’t have a sustainable internal structure to keep the momentum around what we’re advocating for? If the aim of our movement is to dismantle the systemic causes of the climate crisis, we need to stop measuring success according to what’s considered valuable under capitalism, such as mass media presence.
Situations like these have triggered a lot of conflict within movements, perpetuating inequalities and ultimately, having a huge emotional impact on us.
According to the Youth Climate Justice Study, youth-led climate justice initiatives get only 0.76% of climate grants from the largest climate foundations, and a big chunk of it is concentrated in the US and Western Europe. It is clear that more funding needs to be put into the youth movement, specially in Global South and BIPOC communities, but how and from who is as important as how much.
We need philanthropy spaces that understand the unequal power that they carry and the systems that enabled them to have it, and that ultimately, are committed to dismantle it.
Second: replicating the same systems that we’re fighting against
‘Climate Justice’ has become a popular term to lead the demands of the youth movement. We organize for it to be an outcome of our actions, campaigns and political strategies, but little do we reflect that it must also guide our internal structures.
If we aim to uproot the system that has caused the climate crisis, addressing how capitalism, colonialism and extractivism have shaped our dependency on fossil fuels, then we must start by dismantling the way in which those systems show in our personal behaviors, and then ways of organizing. And when it comes to handling funding, practices like collective accountability, internal transparency, clear communication and collective decision making can benefit that purpose. We need to redistribute power, which is not only redistributing money but also knowledge and connections. A direct way to advance this is by making the connections with funders accessible to everyone, otherwise we depend on the informal hierarchies inside movements to access funding.
We must look at funding as a tool, not as the end goal. We must learn to identify when money is needed, what are the best ways to administer it, how to build internal structures adapted to our context that allow us to do that, budget due compensation for our time, define what success indicators work for us, and communicate transparently how money has been spent. Money should be a tool to enable our work, we must look for it when it can accelerate a bigger purpose, but we must not create purposes to justify getting money, and let ourselves be driven for funding acquisition as the main goal.
If we truly believe that the world that we advocate for can be real, we must start by creating pieces of that world in the spaces where we organize. Climate justice is not only achievable through policies, campaigns and legislations, but through the collective strength, joy and liberation that we build by refusing to keep perpetuating systems of oppression. Funding should accelerate our work, not impede it, and we are capable of taking an active role on preventing that from happening.
Authored by Maria Reyes
The Need for Youth to Youth Capacity Building in the Global South
I grew up close to the Western Ghats in India, a UN global biodiversity hotspot with lush tropical forests. Older than the Himalayas, this region is home to over 139 mammal species, 508 bird species, 227 reptile species, 179 amphibian species, 290 freshwater fish species, and 6,000 insect species. Every summer since I was a child, I had the opportunity of going to these forests and becoming friends with the different species and learning about their names and their lives, my love for the forests started because of my love for snakes and herpetology.
Towards the end of high school and in university, I realised access to forests, green spaces and nature education is accessed and enjoyed only by the privileged. I learned about the colonial history of national parks, sanctuaries, reserves and protected areas that have kicked millions of Indigenous people out of their homes. This led to my inner awakening of making a connection to nature accessible to as many people as possible, especially youth, in an inclusive way.
My journey in the climate space started off as a teen climate activist using digital media tools to raise awareness about environmental policy in India. Along the way, I had the opportunity to interact with numerous organisations on the ground and youth collectives and gauge the climate ecosystem in my country. This led me to discover the much larger problem of challenges of resource mobilisation and moving money quickly towards grassroots climate solutions in India and globally. In 2022, I started Nurture with the goal of involving youth to participate and localise food systems to reduce food insecurity and improve mental health. We build gardens in schools and create opportunities for children to learn how to grow their own food. I also joined my friend and colleague Yuvan Aves’s Palluyir’s Trust, where our dream is to make Nature and Climate Education accessible to youth across Tamil Nadu and India through programs and national policy interventions.
As a 22-year-old with some project management experience, thanks to a co-op in university, I was tasked with pitching my project, cold emailing funders, researching and prospecting, making an annual budget, and writing my first grant to fundraise for environmental education programs. I had no idea how funders think, what philanthropies fund climate education solutions, or what are the requirements of a project proposal and a pitch deck. I was starting to realise the complexity of philanthropy and how no sector, no matter how good the intention, is free of power dynamics and gatekeeping. As a savarna, native English-speaking, upper-middle-class Indian woman, raising funds for youth-led environmental education programs and climate solutions through supporting NGOs was challenging but doable because of social capital and skills I learnt from my peers and the internet. But what about the rest of India who do not speak English or are unable to access opportunities to learn about grant writing, philanthropy and building an organisation? And the rest of my fellow youth from other global south countries?
I was really grateful when I found out about the Fellowship by the Climate Justice – Just Transition Donor Collaborative because I saw it as an opportunity to learn from other youth about their challenges, solutions and best practices in raising philanthropy for youth climate solutions. As a fellow of the first cohort I received immense support, mentorship and guidance for the CJJT fellowship team, which gave me the confidence to fundraise for domestic philanthropy in my own country.
Only 0.76% of global philanthropy goes towards youth-led climate justice solutions. I had the opportunity to meet the founders and steering committee of the Youth Climate Justice Fund (YCJF), the first youth-to-youth participatory grant-making regranting body that distributes grants to youth-led climate solutions in climate-vulnerable regions. Along with funding, the YCJF will offer capacity-building organisations to young organisations, which enables the growth of an organisation, efficient administration, monitoring and evaluation. The journey of the CJJT fellowship made me realise the urgent need to grow the pie of youth climate justice funding from 0.76% to 30% by 2030. Young people are one of the most affected by climate change and we deserve to be involved in every aspect of decision-making that involves our present and the future of our lives.
Authored by Sriranjini Raman
Overcoming Climate Change With Translations
In recent years, we have bore witness to wildfires, floods, and hurricanes devastating every corner of the globe; despite the global recognition of these disasters and a pressing need to decarbonize, however, the greenhouse gas emissions that exacerbate these disasters continue to steadily rise every year. Climate change is an issue which affects every single person on the planet, but education on the topic is severely lacking. Only 61 percent of Americans are concerned about climate change; this problem is even worse in other nations, with only 26 percent of people living in the Middle East believing climate change is harming them.
Although some blame the cultural background for these disparities, the lack of information in native languages is an often forgotten factor in why so few care about climate change. In 2012, researchers concluded that most scientific papers are published in English and in 2016, a University of Cambridge study found that languages are still a significant barrier to the global transfer of scientific knowledge. Even the United Nations IPCC report, one of the most renowned pieces of climate research in the world, is only officially available in 6 languages.
This lack of information is especially harmful when considering that of the 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change, none are a majority English-speaking. This makes the transparent communication of climate change information even more pressing; people who are being disproportionately affected must have access to necessary resources in order to learn about the disasters that are destroying their communities.
I realized firsthand the need for climate translation while on a trip to Iran in middle school, being shocked when I saw that the pollution in Iran was so bad I couldn’t see the stars at night. The more I read online about the climate in the Middle East, the more alarmed I became, particularly when I learned the fact that temperatures in the Middle East were rising more than twice the global average. When I brought up my concerns to my relatives, I was disheartened when they informed me that they knew nothing about climate change. My shock compounded when I read a study that found only 5% of Iranian university students could properly explain the greenhouse gas effect.
Determined to educate my Iranian family, I began to pore over climate research; however, I quickly realized that there was no information available in Farsi, their native language. I worked diligently with my mom to translate climate research to help them understand the severity of the climate crisis. I’d never been happier to see such horror on my relatives’ faces; translating the information had worked. After reading my translations, they changed a majority of their habits, reducing their use of cars and shopping more sustainably.
Inspired by the success I had in Iran and determined to further my impact, I decided to start Climate Cardinals, an international youth-led nonprofit working to make climate information more accessible to those who don’t speak English. We incentivize students to translate climate information in exchange for community service hours. On the first day Climate Cardinals officially launched, we had over 1100 people sign up to volunteer with us. Just a few short months later, we have grown to over 8,000 volunteers in 41 countries who have translated over 500,000 words of climate information.
Through my work, I have seen that every single person has the power to further climate action. It is critical for us to talk to our friends and family about climate change, especially when considering that in 2015, over 40% of the adults in the world had never heard of climate change. Normal people want to help, but there needs to be an effective system for them to do so: Climate Cardinals aims to provide that. By working together, we can ensure that every person, regardless of the language they speak, can learn about the climate crisis before it’s too late.
Authored by Sophia Kianni
Should the Revolution be Funded?
Climate Collapse, as it is.
Humanity has reached a tipping point. We gave more value to an unseen matter, carbon, rather than to what is actually happening in our oceans, forests, cultures, and socio-biodiversity.
The latest NDCs presented, according to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, shows us that the targets set by Parties are insufficient for us to reach our Paris Agreement and limit the global average temperature increase to 1.5°C. We are in front of a final warning and the truth is that the available NDCs combined imply a dangerous increase in the global temperature, projected to reach more than 2ºC.
G20 Countries, the group of the largest economies in the world, which Brazil is part of, represent 80% of total global carbon emissions and it is frightening to see how these countries are not setting bold targets in their NDCs for the next few years. And it is totally scary to realize that there are many countries – mine included – with goals conditioned to access funding. So, where is the money really going?
With the Global Stocktake to take place at this year’s COP, I sincerely do not believe that we will have different results than the one that we must continue changing drastically if we want to achieve the targets agreed in Paris or, if we want to simply survive. The only and one hope we can have is to take immediate climate action. So, can youth-led initiatives be funded to take action?
(PART I) Future Makers or Trouble Makers?
Why should you invest in the youth NOW!?
Well, while decision-makers keep discussing “what can be sufficient” to take climate action, we are losing our homes, our sources of food, our culture, our hope, our lives, our minds and being left without a liveable future. The past 30 years of discussion, even though important agreements have been made, is too slow a pace of change. Future agreements can’t take so long to be made. So why focus on setting targets for 2060, if the most important ones are the actions we take right now?
The current generation of young people have proved several times how we are making the difference and pushing for bold and urgent climate action in our communities, networks, countries and regions. From the streets to the courts, we have evolved into the new society we want to create. We teach, while learning, we support in creating more science based climate data, we’ve changed governments and unsustainable structures, we’ve made sure to establish a justice-focused, inclusive and intersectional approach for the meaning of Climate Justice.
The energy brought from youth mobilizations helped to accelerate climate responses, revitalizing the wider climate movement and in different spaces, by different parties, it was possible to see this recognition. We can not deny, leaders all over the world are increasingly acknowledging the power of youth action, which has contributed directly to many of the priorities set in the Climate Agreement: like the campaigns for increasing climate finance, energy transition and net zero targets, climate litigation action initiatives that hold governments and companies accountable, the opposition to new fossil fuel projects, the continuity of protection of original and traditional territories and much more.
So young people were able to do impressive things and achieve a lot, without or with very limited funding available, despite the fact that youth leaders often find themselves fundraising rather than mobilizing their peers. So it is worth imagining what they could accomplish if their funding was doubled or tripled, particularly in countries based in the Global South. So yes, action can actually mean financing youth-led initiatives.
Did you know that most climate justice activists who tried to lead an action, got to the question: “how to continue this initiative without funding?”. This is the constant reality of thousands of young people across the globe, but especially those who live in regions like mine – Latin America.
In addition to not entering activism with prior knowledge on how to get funding, while our networks and organizations are still being structured and many of us have to combine our studies with work, social commitments and volunteering, at the same time, being at higher risk of a burnout, partners find it difficult to fund us, whether because they don’t know us, or because we don’t meet the formal requirements to receive funding – and by that I mean, many of our organizations and networks are still being structured. So, financial scarcity exacerbates the challenges and obligates us to become creative jugglers and miraculous worldmakers to keep our movements going.
Security is a major concern, especially being from a region like mine. According to the Front Line Defenders’ Global Analysis of 2022, a report launched by frontlinedefenders.org that reviews the situation of human rights defenders at risk around the world, Latin America continues to be the region that concentrated the biggest number of attacks on socioenvironmental defenders, given the number of arrests and persecution of activists, along with the criminalization of protests and mobilization. So our work here becomes even more complicated and gives us an extra challenge, because in addition to being a “risky investment”, we also put ourselves at risk and in danger, just by being involved in climate action.
(It is important to remember that despite the assaults on human rights and the rule of law in many countries, human and environmental rights defenders showed remarkable courage and persistence in advocating for more democratic, just and inclusive societies).
So, as someone who has been connecting with the youth networks in my country, region and internationally, according to my inner circle of youth climate activists database, 100% of the interviewed agreed that we need more funding to continue leading our actions and initiatives, as we’ve proven how effective it can be to reforestate consciences into protecting the environment we live in.
(PART II) Little Money, Huge Impact!
Why should you invest in the youth NOW!?
To get back the facts, the first Youth Advisory Group on Climate of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, which I am proud to be one of the seven amazing members, together with The Hour Is Late and two young researchers, with funding support from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), have organized a youth climate justice study to see how young people are being financed. The results are shocking.
So, how well is philanthropy investing in youth-led climate justice movements?
Based on desk research and interviews, the results reveal that foundation giving to youth-led climate justice initiatives is extremely limited — accounting for just 0.76% of climate mitigation funding from the world’s largest climate foundations across three financial years, from 2019-2021. (2019-21 – 12,536 grants from 74 of the largest climate foundations).
Youth-led initiatives in the United States received nearly 16 times as much funding as the global average. So, it would require an additional $158 million per year in foundation funding for all countries in the world to receive similar funding levels to the US.
Adding to the need of increasing funding, the study showed that young people see a need of changing the dynamics for grantmaking. As said before, many organizations leading climate justice actions, are based at a grassroot level and/or don’t meet the formal requirements from foundations to their grantees. The language and the lack of remunerated roles presents a barrier to young people from historically excluded backgrounds, limiting recruitment and retention prospects at a time when youth movements need to increase diversity.
So in general terms, it was evident how difficult it is for youth-led initiatives to access funds, especially from the Global South, with problems ranging from identifying potential funders to fulfilling reporting requirements. But, don’t worry, because in the slide deck and call to action on our study website, we suggest what a youth-friendly grantmaking practice could look like – for example, flexible grants that are light on administration, along with funder relationships built on respect and trust.
Solutions in demand.
In conclusion, investments are needed right now to address these risks and support youth-led initiatives. There are huge opportunities for foundations to help accelerate climate action by directing more funding to youth-led climate justice movements.
Even though young leaders want to hold the power to pursue their own agendas, they are strongly interested in mentorship, training and support in building movement infrastructure. For that, the youth movements value convenings and events, where youth from different countries have a chance to meet and exchange knowledge.
Authored by Paloma Costa
Blockchain for Philanthrophy?
The world is changing. The social and financial dynamics of societies have shifted, and in a few years, it’ll be hard to remember how everything worked in the past. Blockchain & Crypto are all about transparency, efficiency, and trust—not on people alone, but powered by technology. We are witnessing the dawn of a completely new society. And this new society wouldn’t be completely transformed if innovation wasn’t at the core of this shift.
We are part of a biosphere that is demanding an across-the-board revolution in favor of sustainability: we need to face uncomfortable questions whose answers make us change the way and timelines in which we do things. Blockchain is a technology that allows information to be recorded in a decentralized way and in a way that cannot be manipulated, facilitating cooperation between individuals and systems. Blockchain makes it possible to automate processes and reduce costs; to generate standardized, consistent, and integrated data to a network with real-time updating, exchanging information in a reliable, transparent, and efficient manner; to verify records instantly and independently; to track data origin, determine rules, and ensure compliance to facilitate transactions between two or more parties, among other benefits.
Although it is an incipient tool, its application in addressing environmental issues provides innovative and efficient solutions. The use of blockchain in industrial supply chains, in environmental control and monitoring processes, and in the carbon credits market are some of the most relevant applications that this tool may have. Similarly, this technology can be used not only to audit and monitor environmental impacts, but also to report on compliance with regulatory standards and best environmental management practices. In carbon credit markets, the decentralized consensus and validation systems offered by this technology can be used to address accounting, efficiency, and transparency issues related to the management of information on transactions, ecosystem conservation, and restoration measures, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. Finally, blockchain can serve to reduce issues related to funding.
As an Argentinean non-profit founder who has worked in climate & ecological justice youth movements for the past fifteen years, I can attest that we have many problems with funding, especially when we talk about transferring money to the Global South. In this sense, blockchain can serve philanthropy to move resources from one place to another in a quick, transparent and efficient way. At present, this technology already offers innovative alternatives to address remittances all around the world (money sent by migrants to family members in their countries of origin), which are mainly used for food, health services, education, health care, etcetera. Because of their impact on the countries and families that receive them, they are considered to be the financial services with the greatest potential to impact the economy and financial inclusion, and in turn, one of the areas where blockchain could have the greatest immediate impact, given the complexity and high costs of current systems.
According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD, 2017), approximately US $529 billion was sent in remittances to developing countries in 2018 (a figure that more than tripled the amount of the official development assistance allocation), of which 75% went to cover immediate needs. Estimates indicate that around 200 million migrant workers send remittances home, and approximately 800 million are the beneficiaries of these flows. Furthermore, workers send home on average between $200 and $300 every month or two, which represents only 15% of what they earn, but 60% of the estimated income of the household that receives it.
Various sources agree on the importance of these cash flows for developing countries, as they contribute to poverty reduction and economic growth. In particular, they have a very significant effect on the families that receive them; they are the migrant’s main direct vehicle for helping his or her family, contributing to reducing poverty, improving health, nutrition, education, housing, and sanitation, and increasing resilience in the face of uncertainty (savings). For its part, the OECD (2019) estimates that an international transfer through banking entities costs USD 20-60 and takes, on average, between 5 to 7 days, while an intermediary-free transfer through the Bitcoin network (or other cryptocurrency) has an average cost of USD 0.50 (fifty cents) and takes less than an hour, greatly reducing monetary costs and waiting time.
While there is a general consensus on the importance of remittances for low-income countries and family economies, it is also recognized that their cost is excessively high. According to World Bank estimates, the global average percentage cost of sending USD 200 was equivalent to 6.5%, or USD 13. United Nations Goal 10 seeks, by 2030, to reduce the transaction costs of migrant remittances to less than 3% and to eliminate remittance corridors with costs above 5%, values that are far from those currently in force.
Considering the values transacted worldwide in remittances and their importance for developing countries and the families that receive this money, the reduction of transaction costs and times could have a very relevant impact on these economies. In this situation, blockchain and virtual currencies emerge as a valuable tool to send money in remittances almost instantly at low cost.
So, what does remittances have in common with philanthropy and climate justice movements, specially the most vulnerable and marginalized ones? Everything, certainly. Are remittances not the same as the financial aid we daily need in the Global South to fight the worst climate and ecological crisis in human history? We require money and resources, every day, all the time. Right now, if someone wants to transfer USD 10,000 to our non-profit bank account in Argentina, for example, we lose almost 50% of the money in taxes, costs and regulations. And we are lucky, since many of our friends and colleagues can’t even have a bank account.
“If you want different results, do not do the same thing”, Albert Einstein used to say. Therefore, if we have a technology that can accelerate climate action and just transition worldwide by not making things worse, but improving them, we must try it and invest in it.
PD. I invite you to continue reading about this in our new report, Blockchain for Sustainability: Ground Zero, where we talk about the environmental impact of blockchain, the digital divide and much more!
Authored by Máximo Mazzocco
UNDP Youth Global Ambassador
Founder Eco House Global
Image Source: OECD (2019)
Meaningful Youth Inclusion in Climate Governance
Climate change is a crucial topic that has found its way into almost every conversation across the globe. This is predominantly because of the irrevocable harm it causes to the environment across generations, including the future generation, where the youth find themselves. Like most youths, I was also oblivious to the stakes until I saw them in the news. This led me to be very concerned about the intensity of the harm and how we can ensure the direction of change is set in the right direction.
As I immersed myself deeper into the climate justice space, I realised the changes in our environment were not just mere coincidences but were largely influenced by politics. Knowing the possibilities and dangers of good and bad climate governance made me even more agitated and at the same time anxious to get close to the decision-making space to catch a glimpse of who influences change in climate policy.
When I got the opportunity to attend COP 26 in Glasgow I became determined to do all I could to contribute to the meaningful inclusion of youth in climate governance. The youth are not needed in climate governance just because they are the future generation and a ‘vulnerable’ group, but because they are full of ardour, creativity, and innovative ideas that could only come from an open mind and the eagerness to solve problems.
Unfortunately, this goal of including youth voices in climate governance comes with a lot of difficulties. One of the biggest challenges is representation within climate decision-making platforms and events. However, it was comforting to see that COP 27 saw the beginning of the rise of the youth who cared so much about the environment that they did not mind spending days in a new land to make their voices heard.
Another challenge with inhibiting meaningful youth inclusion in climate governance has been the lack of awareness among the general population about the importance of engaging and having a stake in the climate change discourse. This usually creates an atmosphere where youth feel isolated from the conversation and are unable to participate effectively. Additionally, the expert youth at the front line of the climate change discussion may not have complete access to the resources or networks needed to meaningfully engage and train the general population on how to effectively engage in climate policy-making.
The last limitation, which I must say is the most disheartening, is the lack of implementation of the brilliant perspectives that the youth have. This exclusion limits the youth’s ability to shape the policies and outcomes that will affect their future. When the resulting impact of the climate crisis is so catastrophic, which the youth are very aware of, a sense of frustration is created since if the youths’ views were listened to, the threat could be better avoided.
In bringing the youth together to contribute to the policies that influence the environment and the futures of vulnerable groups especially, there is the need to provide education and skills training that promote sustainability in participating in decision-making processes. In Ghana, this has been achieved by the Youth Climate Council through a policy workshop and youth negotiators training programme that was organised in preparation for COP 27.
There is also the need to raise awareness of the climate issues at hand. Putting plans in place to ensure that the youth understand the science behind climate change, as well as the societal, economic, and political implications, is vital in making sure that their voices are heard. Effective and sustainable policies need to be informed by expertise, and equipping young people with this knowledge helps to guarantee their participation.
Governments need to recognize and acknowledge the value of youth voices in the climate change discussion, not only seeing them as an add-on to satisfy protocols. The youth have a priceless perspective on environmental issues that need to be heard in local, national, and international policy decisions. This can be done by actively engaging them in public hearings, online forums, virtual seminars, and other digital spaces that make it easier for a larger representation of youth to participate in decision-making processes.
But the question I ask myself is, can there be the total meaningful inclusion of my generation in climate governance, void of inhibition and intimidation?
I guess we can only hope as we gradually come together with our voices and power.
To start with, I present my letter to the policymaker (originally written at CultureCOP with Letters to the Earth at COP 27)
‘’Dear Policy maker,
I see what you are doing
You try to bring the youth together and hear them speak in the name of ‘it’s your future’
But deep down, you do not see the power these ones carry
You do what you always do, Business as usual
But I tell you today, the youth will not just sit back and watch and hope that you take action
They are building themselves in the policy space
They do not only have charisma, they have expertise
And before you know it, they will take up places of power and make the changes you couldn’t do.
You just watch and see’’
Authored by Margaret Impraim
Addressing The Need For Intersectional Climate Justice
My name is Mahfudh Omar. I’m a climate justice activist, environmentalist, and ocean conservationist from Kenya, Africa. I am part of the Climate Justice – Just Transition Donor Collaborative’s Climate JEDI (justice; equity; diversity & inclusion) fellowship that has brought myself and other youth activists together. We not only speak out for front line communities but also share ways of working on how to push philanthropy to shift power and resources to these communities in the various regions we represent.
In Africa, philanthropic response to climate justice movements is mainly driven by climate disaster events. The fellowship has worked together to expand the CJ-JT Climate Justice Map – an open source mapping of organisations and networks working on the two critical frameworks of climate justice and just transition. The Climate Justice Map is the first step towards a healthy connection for newcomers and a big support for stakeholders in climate justice and just transition work and enables philanthropic response to focus more on preventing and mitigating such events.
To centre climate justice and just transition in philanthropy for Africa is to keep intersectionality alive. By intersectionality, I specifically mean a polycentric approach in the philanthropic space. The work of the CJ-JT Donor Collaborative is a clear example of this approach in practice and how bridging the Global North – Global South gap is essential in achieving climate justice.Therefore, when plans of shifting power and resources are made, walls of board rooms should be broken to make room for the thoughts of youth, women, people of colour, historically marginalised groups, and those with disabilities.
To unlock billions of dollars for youth-led climate justice movements is to first unlock the potential of youth behind these movements. For Africa, it does not always mean unlocking this scale of finance – which if it is the case, local banks can handle the finance – it can also mean unlocking tangible resources which can only be handled by building the capacity of frontline activists. Capacity building should be prioritised whether it is setting up warehouses to store resources or providing finance without restrictions.
A collaborative method in philanthropy promotes cooperation and creates a strong force which counters the systemic injustices and breaks down challenges in achieving climate justice and just transition. The power of collaboration is strong enough to effect necessary change by giving grassroots movements in the Global South more power and resources to scale up and roll out solutions while leveraging information and influence from local to state governments. This is a necessary step to take in the philanthropic space that has to have zero loopholes.
Authored by Mahfudh Khamisi Omar