Every year the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation holds a thought leadership event where we invite an expert speaker and a panel to talk over an issue that is a priority for us. We call this our Inspiring Philanthropy Oration.  We not only want to inspire people to get involved in long term philanthropy but also to do inspiring philanthropy. Philanthropic foundations with endowments sits in a unique position, able to take a long term view and, as well as addressing current social problems, look at how we prevent them in the future. 

Over the last few years, we have heard wonderful orations on the next 100 years of philanthropy from Dr Julia Unwin of the Rowntree Foundation; about new approaches to affordable housing from Michael Shapcott who co-founded the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness; Impact investment from Peter Hero and Richard Fahey from Skoll Foundation and Dipender Saluja from their related Capricorn Investments. Each time, they have inspired us and some of our colleagues to take new steps in our philanthropic work.

This year, we have turned to home for an internationally recognised expert on an issue close to our heart – Sustainable Cities (you can register to attend using the link at the end of this post). Professor Chris Ryan from Victorian Eco Innovation Lab (VEIL) at the University of Melbourne’s School of Design, is leading work on sustainable and revitalised city projects, especially in Europe. The Foundation’s own Sustainable Melbourne program has three priorities: food, water and transitioning to a low carbon future. 

The Sustainable Cities program of the Rockefeller Foundation is one outstanding initiative led by philanthropy around the world in this space. With our Inspiring Philanthropy Oration this year, we want to know what else philanthropy and the community should be doing to help transition to a low carbon future. 

We want liveable and sustainable cities for everyone.

I attended a COP21 Funders Initiative which ran alongside the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris last December. The European Climate Foundation and the American Environmental Grantmakers Association brought together nearly two hundred foundations from all around the world to learn what more we can do to help the community mitigate and adapt to climate change. This led me to see climate change as a lens across all our granting program. 

At Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation we are interested in how climate change is affecting all the issues we care about –this ranges from ensuring crisis and affordable housing is sustainably designed (such as the redevelopment of Ozanam House that we are supporting); understanding our food systems and how we can make them sustainable (FoodPrint project); future jobs for unemployed young people related to sustainability (the project between Centre for Multicultural Youth and the Plumbing Industry Climate Action Centre is a great example); understanding the health impacts of climate change (such as from heatwaves and natural disasters), or increasing the energy efficiency  of not for profit organisations’ buildings that also lead to cost savings (which we are piloting with the Alternative Technology Association and the Yajilarra Trust).

I am looking forward to Prof Chris Ryan’s inspirational oration on Sustainable Cities. I hope you can join us.

Catherine Brown