Climate, atmosphere lead European foundations' environmental funding

Climate, atmosphere lead European foundations' environmental funding

Grantmaking by European foundations in support of environmental initiatives reached record levels in 2018, a report from the European Foundation Centre finds.

An initiative of EFC's European Environmental Funders Group (EEFG), the fifth edition of Environmental funding by European foundations (48 pages, PDF) analyzed environmental grants awarded by 127 foundation and found that, as in 2016, the climate and atmosphere category was the leading recipient of grant dollars — 18 percent of the €745.6 million ($900.3 million) awarded — while accounting for 374 of the 5,358 grants made. It was followed by biodiversity and species, which received 13.5 percent of the total funding, and agriculture (12.4 percent). As in 2016, the five categories receiving the least funding were consumption and waste, transport, trade and finance, fresh water, and toxics and pollution. According to the report, the average grant size in 2018 was €139,148 ($168,090 million), while the median grant size was €12,000 ($14,491), down from €17,300 in 2016.

Among the seventy-seven foundations that provided data to the EFC in both 2016 and 2018, total environmental grantmaking increased 15 percent, from €568.8 million ($686.8 million) to €654.3 million ($790 million), thanks in part to one very large grant. And while funding for climate and atmosphere was the top issue area for this cohort of foundations, there were notable increases in grantmaking for the agriculture and food and coastal and marine categories, while funding for transport and trade and finance jumped 142.7 percent and 84.9 percent, albeit from a low base in both cases.

In terms of geographical focus, the report found that 146 countries benefited from at least one grant in 2018, while 3,842 grants totaling €388.3 million ($469.1 million), or 52.1 percent of the total, supported projects in Europe. The allocation of grant dollars among the twenty-seven European Union countries remained uneven, however, with more than 37 percent of grant dollars going to  the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Italy, and France. The study also found that hands-on conservation work (thirty-three foundations), advocacy (twenty-three foundations), and research (twenty-three foundations) were the most widely supported approaches.

"The new report shows welcome growth in environmental giving by European foundations, with [more than fifty-three hundred] environmental grants worth €745.6 million," said Jon Cracknell, lead author of the report. "The research suggests, however, that just twenty-two out of the hundred and twenty-seven foundations covered by the report are really trying to disrupt and transform the status quo, despite the fact that we have less than ten years remaining to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss."

"Environmental funding by European foundations Volume 5." European Foundation Centre report 04/20/2021. "EFC publishes 5th edition of 'Environmental funding by European foundation'." European Foundation Centre press release 04/20/2021.