By now, we all know the drill. Emissions must be halved by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 to prevent the current climate catastrophe from reaching the ‘worst-case’ scenario. Global action and investments to reach these targets are still not where they need to be. Already, 85% of the world’s population has been affected by climate change, 69% of wildlife populations have declined and many life-sustaining ecosystems are on the verge of collapse. And it’s all happening much faster than scientists predicted. In fact, we have reached a stage where it has become as important to focus on adaptation and reliance as it is to address the root causes!
The term ‘polycrises’ is increasingly used to describe how global crises, whether they be the Russian war, global food production, energy prices, the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation or something else altogether, are interconnected with environmental crises and exacerbating each other. While there are many examples of other periods of polycrises in human history, never before has the dependence of all other human systems on ecological systems been so clearly pronounced. As our natural systems become increasingly degraded and fragile, so do all other human systems, from public health to international security.
While other G7 nations have managed to bend their emissions curves downward – some quite significantly – Canada remains the only member nation with rapidly increasing emissions. The federal environmental policy wins of the past eight years have been unprecedented, but they have also failed to diminish the power and influence of our extractive resource lobbies that are baked into Canada’s DNA and no amount of positive spin is helping to reverse these trends. On the other hand, the landmark Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Agreement that was struck at COP15 to address biodiversity loss, restore ecosystems and protect Indigenous rights was largely spurred by Canada’s own investments and progress to date. This level of government investment signals that environmental action is becoming recognized as a key ingredient for tackling other ‘non-environmental’ aspects of the polycrises such as migration patterns, food security, infectious diseases, and natural disaster recovery, and for benefitting people’s lives, whether it be through cleaner air and drinking water, new job opportunities or increased disposable income.
There was a time when the existence of climate change was a debate. Thanks to the tireless work of a diverse array of changemakers – and to the changing climate itself – we’re past that.
There was a time when alternative economic and financial pathways to get us to a net zero economy were unknown. Thanks in large part to philanthropic leadership over the past decade, the solutions have been researched, modeled, prototyped and clearly communicated.
There was a time when we were still making the case that we need to conserve and protect a minimum of 30 percent of nature by 2030 for our own survival and that of many other species. Thanks to decades of tireless work within the conservation sector, strongly backed by philanthropy, we finally have a formal global agreement.
Greed, powerful interests, fear and resistance to change are what hold us back now – not a shortage of solutions or a lack of viable and clearly articulated alternate pathways to guide investments, policies and regulations toward a sustainable world.
So, what does this all mean for environmental philanthropy?
Relative to other sectors, philanthropy enjoys the greatest degree of flexibility and risk tolerance in the way it can allocate capital. That means we have the ability and opportunity to use our capital to embrace and resource the kind of change that alters the flow of public and private capital within other sectors to build a truly sustainable future.
Ultimately, the scale of change required needs two key ingredients: a critical mass of political support in the right places, and rules, incentives and disincentives that truly align industry behaviour with climate action and ecological restoration. But those ingredients can’t be developed without challenging the status quo and moving beyond incremental pathways and solutions.
So, what are the bridges we need to build and the new pathways that we need to embrace, to accelerate progress in a very short period of time?
EFC’s 2023 annual conference will be devoted to answering this question, not with theoretical discussions but with tangible, practical solutions that we can action today – and in some cases are already! We have no time to spare. We need to roll up our sleeves and work together smartly and efficiently. Join us in historic Quebec City, along one of Canada’s most important waterways, in a province known for its unique style of collaboration, and let’s get to work.
Accelerate 2023: Building Bridges & Embracing Change is an opportunity for funders to learn, share, have open conversations and explore how we can work together to accelerate the change we want – and need – to see. Our program will include plenary sessions, funder-led discussions and sessions, as well as a half-day outdoor ‘walkshop’ or indoor workshop. Our opening reception will provide an opportunity for us to meet with and get to know local partners and leaders advancing change in Quebec. And of course, like at all EFC conferences, there will be plenty of time to network, socialize and enjoy the company of your colleagues.
Because our conference experience is designed to enable a lot of interaction and discussion, it is best achieved in person and will not be delivered as a hybrid event. Plenary sessions will be recorded and available for EFC members on our member-only website. Simultaneous translation will be available for all plenary sessions.
Interested in learning more? Below you will find program information which will include session times and descriptions, speaker information with bios (click the hyperlinks), conference sponsors, and more. The Conference program continues to be developed and information will be updated regularly, so please check back often!
The information below is all powered by the app, Sched. We encourage you to download Sched on your mobile device. Once you do so, you can search “EFC Conference 2023” and access all the conference information any time you want!View the Accelerate 2023: Building Bridges & Embracing Change – EFC Conference 2023 schedule & directory.