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Trusts and foundations who pledged to divest from fossil fuels honoured with prestigious award



Last week 135 trusts and foundations were awarded the prestigious Nelson Mandela-Graca Machel Innovation Award for Brave Philanthropy. The 135 trusts and foundations have pledged to divest from fossil fuels and invest in climate solutions through the global Divest Invest Philanthropy movement. Amongst them are the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, seven Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, Mary Robinson Foundation, The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, and the Velux Foundations.

Currently, the fossil fuel sector’s business plans are based on climate change of more than 3°C. Such an increase in global average temperatures would have huge humanitarian and economic costs. It is also starkly at odds with the global agreement reached in Paris last year to limit climate change to no more 2°C and preferably 1.5°C.

Meanwhile, investment in renewable energy is increasing but levels are still much lower than are needed to meet energy needs into the future.

Divest Invest is a powerful symbolic and financial act taken by an increasing number of trusts and foundations. Participating institutions aim to remove the social and political license of fossil fuel companies planning on pushing climate change beyond 2°C, to protect the value of their charitable endowments, to increase investment in renewable energy and to align their investments with their philanthropic goals.

Sarah Butler-Sloss, Chair of the Ashden Trust and one of the first UK charitable trusts to commit to Divest Invest, said: “Divest Invest is changing attitudes towards future fossil fuel use. This award is a great honour for the Divest Invest movement and for each of the 135 foundations which have shown courage and leadership in signing.

“It is brave, but financially prudent. Through divesting from fossil fuels we have increased our charitable income and our grant-making capacity. By investing in climate solutions we have increased financing of renewable energy. Combined these activities are helping us deliver our mission more effectively.

“We call on other trusts and foundations to join this movement and help accelerate the move to a low carbon economy and avoid calamitous climate change.”

For the past eleven years, The Nelson Mandela-Graca Machel Innovation Awards has recognised and celebrated civil society activists and organisations for their excellence, innovation, and courageous risk-taking.

This year, nominations were open for Youth Activists, Individual Activists, Civil Society Organisations, and for the first time ever, grant-makers under a new category, Brave Philanthropy.

Ellen Dorsey, Executive Director of the Wallace Global Fund, will collect the award on behalf of the 135 philanthropy organisations at International Civil Society Week (ICSW) in Bogota, Colombia on April 28.

Find out more here.