Fund Our Future was born to help global civil society make much more ambitious and far-reaching demands of the financial industry and to broaden the use of finance campaigning to stop climate destruction and the erosion of human rights, particularly in the Global South. In conversations with allies, partners and funders, we are more and more cognizant of the unique and important niche Fund Our Future can play and the enormous system-changing potential of this work. Fund Our Future’s specific value propositions — which others are either not covering or only partially covering — are as follows:
❖ Make an unequivocal call for all financial institutions to end their financing for all climate-destructive projects. While some organizations are starting to make this demand (BankTrack, 350.org), this call needs to be intensified and be loudly heard particularly from affected communities in the Global South. We have noticed that some of the organizations with deep financial campaigning expertise are less adept at thinking about coalitions and building power and hesitate to make bold calls to change the public discourse around and expectations of financial institutions and their practices. We need to help open that space and help bundle the many smaller victories around financial institutions’ practices into a loud and clear momentum narrative for banks to abandon fossil fuels altogether.
❖ Empower Global South communities, campaigners, think-tanks, government officials and more with the finance campaigning knowledge and campaign incubation to stand up to dirty energy projects associated with China’s Belt and Road Initiative and to Japanese overseas investment (among others). These threats are diffuse and affect many countries whose cumulative potential carbon emissions are truly alarming; we need to broaden the network of finance-savvy campaigners. It’s time to network frontline communities into the web of excellent finance campaigners and investor-influencers that is primarily localized in northern countries. As this work expands, Fund Our Future will work very intentionally and speedily with alumni and partners to develop plans to challenge the basis and legitimacy of Chinese and Japanese overseas investment in climate-threatening projects, rather than seeding fragmented campaigns. The vision for change is rapidly to build out a robust and ambitious network that can delegitimise climate destructive funders and effectively put forward alternative plans for economically and environmentally sound development.
❖ Build a grassroots-based, globally high-impact campaign to contest financial institutions’ funding of climate destruction. While we would most likely choose a high-profile private bank (HSBC, JP Morgan Chase – or possibly JBIC), we would do so strategically to question a known brand’s funding of climate destruction. The objective is not simply to turn the bank as much as to provoke a societal conversation about financial institutions’ responsibilities in trashing the climate. This conversation should involve investors, lawmakers, regulators, civil society, unions and more to put financial institutions under the spotlight and fundamentally alter their ability to operate in this arena.
❖ Speak the language that resonates most powerfully. Fund Our Future aims to stop climate-destructive lending, but we mobilize based on issues of proximate concern, including air pollution, land grabs, corruption, energy poverty and water scarcity, to knit together strong and passionate coalitions. Distilling the most powerful communications and campaigning on climate change issues, we will work with communities and allies to tailor campaigns for maximum effect with finance, political, business, unions and other audiences.
❖ Involve human rights demands from the outset. While the primary call to financial institutions is to stop climate destruction, we are intentionally drawing in a much broader swath of civil society to challenge deleterious bank practices. Understanding the direct connections between stopping human rights repression and being able to act effectively against climate change, we will be able to broaden our power base radically by acting jointly with other sectors of civil society and supporting one another’s propositions to curtail financial institutions’ involvement in grave harms. The rights of countless environmental activists, Indigenous Peoples, unions and communities are being violated to accommodate corporate interests. These same interests have relentlessly pressured governments to roll back human rights protections of all types to diminish civil society’s voice in development and environmental decisions. These struggles are fundamentally linked. Climate change also poses an immediate threat to the rights to health, life, an adequate standard of living and a healthy environment. Rather than separately fighting one project at a time, we will draw strength in unity by approaching financial institutions with a package of asks and together demanding a new standard for principled lending practice. We must challenge the increasing autonomy and priority of business and industry in defining global energy markets and insist that energy projects are legally required to respond to community needs and sustainability imperatives, making financing more accountable to its customers.
❖ Strengthen strategic communications to build momentum for financial institutions’ to stop funding climate destruction. There are many markets in which divestment is unheard of, and financial institutions are in no way held accountable for their role in climate and human rights destruction. As Fund Our Future builds out its campaigns, training and networking, it can and should play a fundamental role — with others like GSCC — in informing the network and spreading the news about new financial institution commitments and policy shifts. It should also help coordinate communications initiatives to repeat the demand for broad policy shifts, for instance at the WB/IMF Bali meeting coming up in October.
❖ Strong strategic campaigning skills with a focus on Global South. Unlike many other finance-focused initiatives, Fund Our Future is specialized in building power and seizing campaigning opportunities — not on hoarding specialized finance knowledge and contacts. We see huge potential in bringing this new DNA to the finance community and building on one another’s strengths and networks, to particular benefit in the Global South. We aim to complement rather than to compete with others, bringing a burst of vision and energy to connect strong finance campaigners in the north with determined communities across the Global South. We will tailor the campaign incubation to ensure that initiatives are strong across campaign strategy and finance know-how, and that they are able to access resources and networks crucial to building project-level success and prompting system-shifting momentum. We wish to coordinate workshops and training sessions and help incubate campaigns to launch high-priority initiatives, notably in Southeast Asia, India, Africa and South America. This way, global finance campaigning will increasingly focus on the most strategic interventions by privileging regular information flow and helping to mobilize resources. One specific campaign incubation option may be to support the establishment of a legal precedent for bank lending in the Global South to promote transparency and lending practices that are not destructive, with the aim of replication in other countries.
Fund Our Future is a network player acting on the high-risk, high-return quadrant of campaigning: the climate crisis is too profound for half-measures. We seek to build and leverage power rapidly to increase pressure on financial institutions and governments to stop money flowing to climate destruction to help restore a safe climate and more equitable economies. We actively seek synergies that will radically intensify the work of other actors pressing for progress on climate, finance and human rights.