When the Ottawa Community Foundation (OCF) stepped up to incubate and launch the Ottawa Climate Action Fund, President and CEO Marco Pagani saw a pathway to integrate the push for faster, deeper emission cuts with all the other crises and opportunities on the City’s agenda.
“OCAF is about Carbon Down, Community Up, and that fits so well with OCF’s vision for anything negative down and community up,” he said—from poverty and homelessness, to unemployment and waiting lists.
“We’re the only funder in the city that covers all issue areas, all causes. And our ambition is to contribute to a society where if the social and economic indicators are negative, nobody should rest until they’re at zero. And if they’re positive, we should not rest until they’re at 100%.”
Climate is at the centre of that mission, he added, “because Carbon Down, Community Up actually affects so many other things.”
During OCAF’s first year of operation, Pagani said he’s been pleased to see the organization establish its profile and brand, connect with key players across the community, and build up an effective in-house team. “We’ve built a heck of a foundation to launch into something that will ultimately be a permanent asset and benefit our community forever.”
Over the longer haul, he sees OCAF as a key part of the social infrastructure that philanthropic organizations are built to deliver.
“For me, the ambition of OCAF has always been to create a community asset, a backbone for the environmental ecosystem in our city,” he said. “It’s the notion of building up a formalized ecosystem, not only within the sector but across sectors,” by coordinating philanthropic resources with support from the public and private sectors.
Over the last year, that asset has begun to emerge before our eyes. Even in its first year of operation, Pagani said, “OCAF has helped me drive that point home” and build understanding of the bigger vision, even in issue spaces beyond climate change and energy.