Sustainable Development Guidelines

Human activity is causing climate change, rapid loss of biodiversity, and accelerating degradation of Earth’s life support systems. These developments threaten the livelihoods, health, and security of people in all nations and cultures as well as the well-being of the greater community of life. The RBF’s sustainable development grantmaking endeavors to address these challenges by supporting development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The program supports global stewardship that is ecologically based, economically sound, socially just, culturally appropriate, and consistent with intergenerational equity. The Fund encourages government, business, and civil society to work collaboratively on climate change, to acknowledge the moral and ethical consequences of inaction, and to make it an integral part of all development planning and activity. Recognizing the global nature of many environmental problems, the Fund also promotes international cooperation in addressing these challenges.

The Sustainable Development program maintains a significant focus on the United States in light of its disproportionate impact on the global economy, politics, and the environment. The program’s work is also advanced in collaboration with the Fund’s “pivotal place” programs—New York City, Southern China, and the Western Balkans—and with the Democratic Practice program’s Global Governance portfolio. Pivotal place programs support work in specific countries or regions to build the knowledge, policies, organizational capacity, and leadership needed to advance sustainable development in locally appropriate ways. The Fund’s Global Governance portfolio supports broad participation in forging the international agreements and institutional arrangements needed to encourage investment in sustainable development. Fund staff work to ensure that global developments inform work in specific places and that locally grounded efforts generate lessons and innovations needed for global impact.

With the recognition that the impact of unchecked climate change threatens all other conservation efforts, the Sustainable Development program focuses its U.S. grantmaking on building a green economy at the federal, state, and local levels.

Goal: Advance Solutions to Climate Change
  • Building public and policymaker understanding and support for a range of actions to address the threat of climate change.
  • Supporting implementation efforts to build a clean energy economy at the federal, state, and local levels.
  • Supporting efforts to reduce reliance on carbon-intensive energy sources.
  • Supporting targeted efforts to advance international progress on climate change.

The Sustainable Development program is focused on efforts to promote effective climate policies in the United States through support for high-leverage opportunities at the federal, state, and municipal levels (including New York City as the Fund’s home). In addition, the program provides support for select international efforts to advance global climate negotiations.

Featured Grantees

Young oysters are growing on this recycled oyster shell in New York Harbor as part of the Billion Oyster Project's habitat monitoring. (Courtesy of Peter Malinowski/BOP)

New York Harbor Foundation, Inc.

The Port of Shenzen in Guangdong province is one of the world's fastest growing and busiest ports. It handles a variety of transportation types including ships, trucks, and cargo handling equipment. (Photo cc-by Chris.)

Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Ceres President Mindy Lubber at the April 2012 annual Ceres Conference, which convened over 500 business leaders, investors, environmentalists and policy-makers in Boston, MA. Jackson discussed the significance of Ceres' bringing businesses and other influential players into efforts to protect human health and the environment.
Ceres, Inc.

News and updates

The Philanthropic Sector Must Remain Focused on Paris Climate Targets

Many of the major climate commitments agreed on in Paris last December were made voluntarily, and now is the time to ramp up engagement to keep the international community on track, says Michael Northrop, in the latest issue of Alliance Magazine.

Michael Northrop: Is the Post-Fossil Fuel Era Now Inevitable?

The Fund’s Sustainable Development program director reflects on the atmosphere of the UN climate conference in Paris and highlights 80 agreements and achievements which contributed to the landmark meeting.

Stephen Heintz Praises the Agreement Reached at the Paris Climate Conference

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund is proud to support the Paris climate agreement as a monumental step forward for the world. This agreement would never have been possible without a strong, vital climate movement, an impassioned groundswell of work from the local and state levels building from the ground up, and a historic shift among investors and businesses.