chettchozewskiCitizen of the World, Al Gore, on Power, Politics, and Justice

By: Chet Tchozewski In: 2010 Annual Conference

26 Apr 2010

“The intersection of change is present right now.”

The role for philanthropy in addressing climate change is one for which we all struggle. And it is particularly relevant for this conference’s theme of intersections. There is no other issue that embodies this concept of intersections more aptly than climate change.

Many of the people here are concerned about the controversy in the Senate and the de-prioritization of the upcoming climate-change bill behind immigration reform. We need to move this legislation forward, and it will take our combined efforts to make it happen, at all intersections possible.

In my conversations with Al Gore yesterday evening at a special reception, and this morning at his keynote address, he made clear that there has never been greater urgency on this issue, despite the lack of political will. But, as Gore noted, political will is a renewable resource.

Philanthropy must be creative to chart our new course and overcome the challenges in front of us. Gore points out: “We are in the midst of the greatest intergenerational transfer of wealth in the history of civilization.” This is no small moment of opportunity.

So, the question still stands: How are we to be the best stewards of the resources we have at hand?

One thing is clear. We must remain steadfast to a long-term vision for social change, social justice, and social innovation. Gore noted our tendency toward the quarterly or annual time frame. This is just not going to do it. We must change this cycle, and the rewards attached to it.

Climate change is ultimately an issue of justice, and its “intersectionality” affects each of us in our missions, no matter what the particular theme. Tasteless, odorless, difficult to define. This is a crisis that requires immediate and coordinated, integrated action.

Gore stressed that our role as philanthropists is to bring people together, to unlock the fire that feeds the drive for social change, justice, and innovation. We must reason and communicate together to reach a shared understanding—to create the platform for action that is required of us all.

There are many resources available to us in this journey. For example, the Climate and Energy Funders Group of the Consultative Group on Biological Diversity. I hope you will connect and plant the seeds for more innovative ways forward during your time here.

“Make no mistake,” Gore says, “This intersection of change is present right now.”

Chet Tchozewski is the founder and president emeritus of the Global Greengrants Fund.

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