The interconnected nature of humanity’s crises require greater reflection on how we can support the transition towards a more ecologically sustainable and socially just economy, to help build and develop – in a phrase evoked repeatedly at the Just Giving Conference – a philanthropy commensurate with the challenges we face. Inspired by thinkers, innovators and resilient communities around the world, and building on inspirational philanthropic efforts such as the Building Equity and Alignment for Impact Initiative, we are launching a just transition collaborative that will encourage and enable funders to learn from, engage with and provide support to community-based movements and movement-support organizations working to build systemic economic alternatives at local, national and international levels. Over the coming year, this collaborative will help deepen understanding of just transition narratives and practice, while seeking to increase philanthropy’s commitment to funding more transformational work being undertaken across sectors and geographies by grassroots movements and allies.
Building a Just Transition to the Next Economy
A Co-Learning and Strategy Development Collaborative for Funders, with Movements and Movement Support Organizations
Evidence abounds that humanity’s interconnected crises require systemic, transformative change, a transition agenda towards a more ecologically sustainable and socially just economy. Although philanthropy is more adept at addressing symptoms than root causes, a comprehensive worldview and understanding of vibrant and transformational work occurring trans-locally and internationally can help build and develop a philanthropy commensurate with the challenges we face.
Reinventing philanthropy to deal with the unprecedented crises of our time, however, is not without its challenges. Policy advocacy and activism are now so diversified and local that it can be difficult to synthesize and make sense of all that is happening on the ground. With nearly everything structurally interconnected within a global economy and neoliberal policy consensus, it can be difficult to identify strategic interventions that might break the prevailing political and economic logic, and build durable alternative ideas, institutions and movements.
To address these challenges, EDGE Funders will work with its members and allies to build a co-learning and strategy development collaborative that encourages and enables funders to learn from, engage with and provide support to community-based movements and movement-support organizations working to develop systemic economic alternatives at local, national and international levels. The collaborative will help deepen understanding of just transition narratives and practice, while increasing philanthropy’s commitment to funding more transformational work over the coming decade.
Our efforts are undertaken with particular reference to Building Equity and Alignment for Impact, an initiative which brings together funders, national organizations and grassroots networks in innovative ways to build financial and relational equity among them, acknowledging that meaningful impacts will not be achieved without significant investment in and leadership from the grassroots. In similar fashion, this Collaborative brings philanthropy together with writers, researchers and movement support organizations and with grassroots groups promoting just transition efforts on the ground. With these civil society partners and with foundation colleagues we will develop and promote a just transition frame to advance a transformative next economy agenda that seeks to shift from values and world views of consumerism, marketization, (national) self interest and growth, towards those of well-being, sufficiency and (global) solidarity. Over the coming period, our efforts will support:
- Surveying the terrain of existing initiatives that fall within “just transition/next economy” parameters, to discern core principles and values underlying this work, and develop preliminary guidelines for wider discussion and debate with funders and movements;
- Mapping information on relevant strategic initiatives, as well as potential funding opportunities, that advance a just transition agenda in different regions of the world;
- Developing learning tools for movements and funders, and organizing webinars, workshops and retreats for funders, with movements, to deepen mutual learning and co-develop strategic collaborations; and
- Organizing or building on venues for co-learning among funders, practitioners and support organizations, and for consultations with foundation staff and trustees.
Through these efforts we will collaborate and engage with strategic partners – foundation colleagues, civil society organizations, networks, researchers and trainers – deepening understanding while also working together to increase foundation support for work that envisages and promotes elements of a just transition to the next economy over the coming decade.