Dollars to help make a difference

Posted on 23 Jan 2024

By Greg Thom, journalist, Institute of Community Directors Australia

The Environemental Defenders Office Mt Pleasant coal mine
2023 Visionary Grant winner Environmental Defenders Office have developed a fossil fuel tracker’ to monitor the potential impact of fossil fuel projects in the regulatory pipeline.

The efforts of a diverse range of not-for-profits working on innovative solutions to combat the effects of climate change have been boosted by the allocation of more than $500,000 in grants.

Superannuation investment management company Australian Ethical selected the 10 grant recipients under its 2023 Visionary Grants program for projects ranging from new clean energy solutions to biodiversity protection.

Established in 1986, Australian Ethical describes itself as one of the pioneers of ethical investing in Australia.

Each year the Australian Ethical Foundation allocates 10% of the company’s post-tax profits to fund initiatives that “drive positive outcomes for the planet, people and animals.”

The foundation has distributed more than $9 million in grants since 2000.

The 2023 Visionary Grants winners are:

  • Rewiring Australia, for its project with the Australian National University investigating how a government-supported finance program could help reduce emissions by boosting uptake of electrification in low-income homes.
  • Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), which will use the funding to conduct a heat survey to help identify and support 1.8 million low-income households to make the transition to renewable energy.
  • Tomorrow Movement, which will use the grant funding to train up to 20 young people from across Australia to run climate-related campaigns in their local communities.
  • Environmental Defenders Office, to help fund the ‘Fossil Fuel Tracker’ it developed to monitor fossil fuel projects in the regulatory pipeline. The tool is designed to provide concerned citizens with the legal resources they need to “take effective climate action and protect the places they love.”
  • Martuwarra Fitzroy River Council, to support the healthy management of the Martuwarra (Fitzroy) River system in the Kimberly region of Western Australia through a combination of traditional First Nations and Western scientific methods.
  • Great Southern Reef Foundation, for its efforts to foster ocean literacy through an interactive digital platform and community engagement guided by scientists and First Nations communities.
  • Gudanji for Country, for a project designed to prevent the loss of flora, fauna and Indigenous sacred sites due to climate change and extractive industries such as gas exploration.
  • Love Mercy Foundation, to help scale its Cents for Seeds program, designed to combat drought-induced food and water insecurity and reductions in agricultural output and soil quality due to climate change.
  • Pollinate Group, which plans to scale its micro-enterprise initiative designed to empower women in margianalised communities in India and Nepal to distribute clean energy products.
  • ActionAid Australia, to support a series of Women’s Economic Hubs in Vanuatu designed to empower small-scale female farmers to develop businesses and build resilience to climate-related disasters.
Tomorrow Movement
The Tomorrow Movement will use their Australian Ethical Foundation grant to train up to 20 young people from across Australia to run climate- related campaigns in their local communities.
"We believe that a sustainable planet underpins all of Earth’s systems and allows for people and animals to thrive. That’s why we invest to earn returns for members while doing good by people, animals and planet."
Australian Ethical chief customer officer Maria Loyez.

Australian Ethical chief customer officer Maria Loyez said this year’s Visionary Grants recipients spanned a wide range of diverse and important projects.

“We believe that a sustainable planet underpins all of Earth’s systems and allows for people and animals to thrive. That’s why we invest to earn returns for members while doing good by people, animals and planet,” she said.

“Through the foundation we also seek to unearth and fund high-impact charities driving solutions addressing climate change, and we’re really excited by the quality of this year’s recipients.”

Ms Loyez acknowledged that ethical investing is not the same as philanthropy.

However, she said the foundation’s investors and members could rest assured that as their investment nest egg grows, the Australian Ethical Foundation would be supporting people and projects such as this year’s Visionary Grants winners.

“I think that’s another reason for our members to feel good and know their money is working for the benefit of many as well as long-term returns,” she said.

Ethical investing has become a hot button issue for many Australians who want to see their money used for good.

A survey conducted by the Responsible Investment Association of Australia (RIAA) found four out of five people expect their bank account and super to be invested responsibly and ethically.

Three-quarters of people said they would consider moving to another provider if their current fund was revealed to be investing in companies engaged in activities inconsistent with their own values.

This year, the Australian Ethical Foundation is again inviting its superannuation members and investors to vote for their favourite initiative.

The People’s Choice Visionary Grant recipient with the most votes will receive an additional $10,000.

More information

Church doubles down on ethical investment advice

More news

Become a member of ICDA – it's free!