Davos: Investors and philanthropists vow collaboration to unlock $3trn a year for climate and nature

Given that just 2% of the philanthropic finance allocated in 2021 went towards climate mitigation, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has launched a new initiative aiming to scale this proportion and, in turn, to unlock trillions of dollars for climate and nature action.

Davos: Investors and philanthropists vow collaboration to unlock $3trn a year for climate and nature

The launch comes on day two of proceedings at the 2023 Davos summit

Called Giving to Amplify Earth Action (GAEA), the initiative has been launched in the hope of closing the $3trn annual finance gap between current levels of backing for climate and nature initiatives and those needed to meet key international agreements, like the Paris Agreement on climate change and the recently-ratified pledge to halt and reverse nature degradation and loss.

It will do so by convening dozens of the world’s largest philanthropic organisations already involved in environmental work, alongside decision-makers managing public and private sectors. In the first instance, these leaders will identify which climate and nature solutions they are best placed to fund and how, in doing so, they can “catalyse” further financial support.

Some solutions are already being backed by some of the organisations involved through existing coalitions, such as cleaner cooking fuels for off-grid homes in the Global South. The Clean Cooking Collaboration, for example, launched in 2016 with an initial $10m of philanthropic funding. It has since mobilised more than $600m in public and private finance.

The aim of GAEA is to help scale up and replicate the successes of existing programmes like this in new sectors and regions.

In joining GAEA, partners have recognized that new, innovative funding models may be needed to scale technologies which are not as mature as cleaner cooking fuels. This may also be the case for emerging finance classes, such as blue finance for ocean conservation and restoration.

A total of 45 philanthropic organisations are signing up to GAEA at its launch today (17 January) at the WEF’s annual summit in Davos, Switzerland. The include the Bezos Earth Fund. The Laudes Foundation, the Wellcome Trust and the Philanthropy Asia Alliance. Several funds with corporate links are among the cohort, too, including the BMW Foundation and the Ikea Foundation.

Some $810bn was given by philanthropic organisations in 2021 but just 2% went to projects that will reduce emissions, the WEF estimates. Ikea Foundation chief Per Heggenes said this is “just not acceptable”.

Heggenes added: “This is also a massive opportunity to leverage philanthropic giving for climate action. Philanthropies can play a unique role in encouraging urgent, radical and unprecedented collaboration between the public and private sectors. It’s only by working together at scale that we can unlock the investment required to achieve our ambitious climate goals and protect the planet.”

Also participating in the GAEA are academic institutions, companies, business collaborations and public sector organisations. Participants include the We Mean Business Coalition, McKinsey Sustainability, Climate KIC, the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) and the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy at the University of Cambridge.

The meeting in Davos began on Monday (16 January) and will conclude this weekend. Observers have noted that it is a more sombre affair this year, with the energy price crisis and the ripple effects of last year’s extreme weather events prompting many world leaders to opt to focus efforts in their home countries. Six of the G7 leaders are skipping the summit, with only Germany’s Olaf Scholz set to attend. Also absent are China’s Xi Jinping, South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa and, of course, the Russian delegation.

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