India’s commitment to addressing climate change faces a significant funding gap, with public funding and foreign contributions falling short. However, a new wave of philanthropists in the country has recognized the urgency of the situation and is stepping up to contribute to climate action. Their efforts, though commendable, are just the beginning in closing the trillion-dollar funding gap required for substantial change.
The Shift Towards Climate Philanthropy
According to the India Philanthropy Report published by Dasra and Bain & Company, the latest generation of family philanthropists has shown a remarkable interest in supporting climate change initiatives. Donations towards environmental and sustainability causes have witnessed a 46% increase compared to the previous year. While this growth is encouraging, the total amount of around Rs 193 crore is a fraction of what is necessary to drive real change in India’s climate landscape.
Changing Philanthropic Priorities
Traditionally, philanthropic funds in India have been channeled towards sectors such as education and health, with climate change not receiving adequate attention. However, this trend is slowly shifting as philanthropists recognize the importance of addressing the climate crisis. Initiatives like the India Climate Collaborative (ICC) and the ClimateRISE Alliance have emerged to streamline funds and facilitate effective action.
The India Climate Collaborative
The India Climate Collaborative was established in 2018 by prominent philanthropists and industrialists, including Anand Mahindra, Sangita Jindal, Ratan Tata, Rohini Nilekani, Nadir Godrej, and Vidya Shah. It serves as a bridge between industry and India’s ambitious climate goals. By identifying impactful climate projects and engaging with domestic and international donors, the India Climate Collaborative has secured commitments worth $13.6 million and collaborated with over 40 stakeholders.
Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies
Rohini Nilekani, a renowned philanthropist, has focused on biodiversity and conservation issues through her foundation. In the past year, the foundation has significantly increased its grants dedicated to biodiversity and conservation projects, supporting organizations like the Wildlife Conservation Society of India and the Keystone Foundation. Nilekani’s passion for wildlife conservation and her commitment to philanthropy have played a vital role in her decision-making process.
The Rainmatter Foundation, led by Nithin Kamath and Kailash Nadh, has committed its entire endowment of $200 million to climate change and environmental initiatives, making it India’s largest domestic philanthropy dedicated to the cause. Rainmatter supports 75 non-profits focused on ecosystem resilience, re-wilding spaces, and improving local production and consumption. With a long-term investment approach, Rainmatter aims to solve the climate crisis through systemic changes.
Raintree Family Office
The Raintree Foundation, supported by the Raintree Family Office, takes a unique approach to sustainable land management in Pune, Maharashtra. Founder Leena Dandekar, with a background in the Camlin group, has developed a model focused on community-led interventions in areas such as water security, environment conservation, and solid waste management. The foundation’s sustainable development model in the Velhe block has yielded positive results and has the potential for replication in other parts of Maharashtra.
Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation
The Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, chaired by Jamshyd Godrej, aims to promote renewable energy and emissions reduction through philanthropy, policy research, and stakeholder dialogue. As a donor to leading think tanks and NGOs, Shakti plays a crucial role in supporting climate change action in India. Recently, the foundation launched the ACCLIMATE Challenge Fund, providing grants to civil society organizations piloting programs related to green hydrogen, cooling technologies, and climate finance.
India’s growing cohort of climate philanthropists is playing a crucial role in addressing the funding gap for climate action. While their contributions have increased, there is still a long way to go in mobilizing the trillions of dollars required for transformative change. By collaborating with industry, government, and civil society, these philanthropists are pioneering a new approach to climate philanthropy in India, setting the stage for a more sustainable and resilient future.