E4C - Ecosystems for Change: Environmental Philanthropy - Catalyzing Sustainability

20 Pages Posted: 2 Jan 2009

Date Written: September 4, 2008


This paper develops a comprehensive decision framework for environmental philanthropy in search of achieving sustainability on a crowded planet. Many of the world's most pressing global challenges are environmental in nature (or have stark environmental implications) and require long-term efforts. Asking what and how environmental philanthropy can contribute to address the sustainability challenges, the paper first reviews the history of environmental philanthropy and analyzes its role in a world in which humanity is de facto tasked to actively manage nature. What is the "competitive niche" where environmental philanthropy has the edge: as a direct provider of capital? By financing the provision of expertise? By engineering unlikely but game-changing stakeholder coalitions? The paper then maps the current landscape of environmental philanthropy, and applies the concepts of manufactured and external risks to the field. Subsequently, the paper develops a decision framework suggesting a portfolio approach that classifies actions based on knowledge about outcomes and probabilities under the categories of risk, uncertainty and ignorance. The framework is applied to the areas of marine conservation and nanotechnology.

Keywords: Philanthropy, sustainability, decision analysis, marine conservation, nanotechnology

JEL Classification: L31

Suggested Citation

Martin, Maximilian, E4C - Ecosystems for Change: Environmental Philanthropy - Catalyzing Sustainability (September 4, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1322392 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1322392

Maximilian Martin (Contact Author)

University of St. Gallen ( email )

Tigerbergstrasse 2
St. Gallen, CH-9000

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