Sustainable Cities: The Role for Philanthropy in Promoting Urban Sustainability

Commissioned by the Canadian Environmental Grantmakers’ Network (CEGN), this report by Ray Tomalty outlines some of the key issues related to urban sustainability in Canada, profiles some of the promising approaches, and explores various roles that the philanthropic community could play in moving communities forward in this field....


This report is intended as a starting point for a broader discussion about strategic philanthropy in support of more sustainable cities. Some of the roles that foundations might consider are as follows:

• Frame “sustainability” in a holistic way, emphasizing the link among environmental, economic, and social characteristics;
• Design strategies, including granting parameters, that place a premium on collaboration within the environmental movement, with other sectors and across domains (health, education, recreation, economic, etc.)
• Use their brokering skills to convene and nurture partnerships among municipal governments, community organizations, and the private sec- tor;
• Provide support for promising and innovative initiatives that, if successful, can then be scaled up and financed by the public or private sector;
• Strengthen the individual and collective capacity of community organizations to innovate, to work constructively with difference and conflict, and to deliver results;
• Collaborate with other foundations: co-creating initiatives, sharing lessons, and supporting the creation of a new narrative;
• Establish impact investing policies for their endowments and create pools of capital for green technologies and sustainable real estate development with an emphasis on social impact.


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