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In both the developed and the developing world, the COVID pandemic has highlighted social inequalities and exposed how vulnerable our communities are to supply chains, healthcare systems, and more.
The pandemic has brought a sharp focus on the need for government, business, and also philanthropists to collaborate, when faced with a truly global crisis. It has also provided a spur to philanthropists in the Global North and South to collaborate more effectively beyond the pandemic.
“Given the scale and urgency of the pandemic, I think COVID will have a profound impact in several ways. For one, I think we’ll see philanthropists engaging in more active collaboration, not only with businesses and government but also with each other.” Bill Gates, co-founder of the The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, speaking to Badr Jafar, the founding patron of Centre for Strategic Philanthropy at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School.
Looking to how government agencies, businesses and philanthropic actors can co-operate in future, it will be important to address the North-South power imbalance in global philanthropy, says a report by the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy.
“Achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 will require a shift towards a more collective, inclusive and local approach to identifying and prescribing social investment solutions. The need for this change—in light of the gravity of the pandemic—has never been more urgent…. COVID-19 could thus be a catalyst for positioning philanthropy to respond even more effectively to the next unpredictable but not unforeseeable crisis.”Clare Woodcraft, Executive Director of the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy.
Up until recently philanthropic foundations from the Global North have exercised considerable control over how and where resources are allocated in the Global South.
During the COVID crisis, as resources have been diverted towards public health, the urgent demands of the pandemic have started to shift some control over to organizations in the Global South that have the essential local knowledge. This new report finds this has already had some positive effect in changing entrenched ways of operating across the sector—which it sees as very promising.
“Beyond COVID-19, the UN’s SDGs could potentially be accelerated if the trillions of dollars of philanthropic capital available were systematically pooled and then targeted to locally defined critical needs rather than subjective criteria defined in the Global North. Moreover, new thinking around the delivery of the SDGs that incorporates truly grassroots Global South ideas and innovation—ideally generated by the young emerging philanthropists and social investor change-makers of the Global South—could rapidly improve their efficacity.”Kamal Munir, Academic Director of the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy and Reader in Strategy and Policy at Cambridge Judge Business School.
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