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: Suggested Citation