October 9, 2023

Winning on Climate Change: A NYC Climate Week 2023 Panel Discussion

A key takeaway from Bridgespan’s Climate Week 2023 panel on winning on climate change.

It’s not often that perspectives from disparate realms of the social sector come together to talk about climate solutions. So, when a panel with a leader in philanthropy, an environmental justice leader, the head of a collaborative, and a high-net-worth funder convened amidst the bustling activity of last September’s Climate Week in New York, we weren’t sure what to expect. Notably, the event sparked insightful dialogue, ignited philanthropic passions—and fostered a surprisingly positive outlook on the next decade.

winning on climate change 2023 climate week panelists

More than 50 leaders from climate philanthropy and NGOs came together to witness the panel discussion, which explored many of the themes and findings of Winning on Climate Change, a 2023 report from The Bridgespan Group that emphasizes the pivotal role philanthropy plays in major progress on climate. The report identified three climate philanthropy practices as especially important: to invest in early efforts connected to a big goal; to join other climate actors through existing structures; and to support the equitable implementation of new laws, treaties, and policy changes.

Co-hosted by Bridgespan partners, Sonali Patel and Brian Burwell, the panelists for the discussion included Melanie Allen, co-director of the Hive Fund; Charlotte Pera, deputy CEO and chief strategy officer of Bezos Earth Fund; Shawn Reifsteck, managing director of ClimateWorks Foundation; Peggy Shepard, CEO of WE ACT for Environmental Justice; and Mike Shroepfer, founder of Additional Ventures.

A key takeaway from the discussion, which affirmed the findings of the report, was that the complexity and size of the climate issue is no reason for philanthropic money to stay on the sidelines. On the contrary, while there has indeed been a substantial increase in donor support for climate action, there remains an urgent call for sufficient private funding to meet the magnitude and urgency of the moment.

While the climate change challenge looms large, it’s heartening that there does exist a network of dynamic and diverse climate leaders and organizations around the world who are poised to meet it. And with the related diversity of needs for funding arising from their efforts that extends beyond mere mitigation, in many ways, philanthropy has never been better equipped to help them do it.

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The Bridgespan Group would like to thank the JPB Foundation for its generous and ongoing support of our knowledge creation and sharing work.