fbpx Skip to content

Navigation breadcrumbs

  1. Home
  2. News
  3. 4 trends in climate funding changing European philanthropy
Blog 13 June 2023

4 trends in climate funding changing European philanthropy

Tom Stevenson
This year’s Philea Forum was a unique opportunity for philanthropic funders and NGOs to exchange ideas and drive forward faster progress on interconnected crises. Clean Air Fund’s Tom Stevenson shares insights on the potential and challenges of climate funding in Europe and beyond.

In the wake of the IPPC’s ‘final warning’ on the climate crisis and growing inequality, philanthropic foundations need to consider how to make smarter investments for people and planet.

So how can philanthropy help navigate today’s challenges around climate, democracy and equality? The recent Philea Forum brought together 700 philanthropy and civil society professionals to find new ways of collaborating to find innovative solutions across Europe and beyond.

Amid a range of Europe-wide concerns, this year’s forum focused on how to shape a forward-looking continent, from international, regional and local perspectives. Here are four main takeaways from this year’s event:

1. Combatting climate change is now at the heart of European philanthropy

New research conducted across the European philanthropic sector by Bertelsmann Foundation showed that an overwhelming majority of European foundations believe climate change is a key issue they need to tackle, whether through funding, responsible investment or applying a climate lens to their work and operations. The latest Environmental Funding by European Foundations report also shows ~€1.6bn of environmental and climate-focused grants were made in 2021, which is more than double the value of similar grants in 2018.

2. But more still needs to be done and faster

The overall funding figure remains a tiny share of total European foundation giving and just a small group of large funders are responsible for the majority of grants. ClimateWorks Foundation’s annual climate funding trends report shows that under 2% of global philanthropic funding is spent on climate mitigation. In addition, 88% of Philea forum participants surveyed stated that more needed to be done at EU level to address the climate crisis. The philanthropic community is frustrated at the lack of climate action and slow pace of change within Europe.

3. More European funders are responsibly investing their endowments

Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and Daniel & Nina Carasso Foundation have committed to closely aligning their endowments with the respective missions of each organisation. This responsible investment is an increasing trend in the US and UK, as philanthropic funders aim to have impact outside of their grantmaking alone.

4. European funders are collaborating with governments more

There was a clear and renewed push for European philanthropy to work more closely with policymakers across the continent. Collaboration, new perspectives and insight sharing across sectors is critical to more ambitious climate action, strengthening democracy and building a more prosperous future.

Funders are missing a huge opportunity to quickly realise multiple health, social and economic benefits through more joined-up approaches. Smarter funding for solutions that tackle air pollution and the climate crisis together can improve health, climate and sustainable economic growth. Find out more about how philanthropic foundations can invest in clean air and climate.