By Jessica & Adam Sweidan, Founding Trustees, January 2017
In 2000 we created a philanthropic organisation called The Synchronicity Foundation. At the time, we were fundamentally interested in engaging with brilliant people and organisations with inspired ideas or projects. The people behind the projects were as important to us as the chosen projects and issues.
Taking a very bottom-up approach to giving, we had a very diverse and eclectic portfolio and found ourselves funding across numerous sectors including social and economic welfare, healthcare, relief efforts, the environment, endangered species, and children’s wellbeing. To date, The Synchronicity Foundation has worked with over 70 projects in nearly 40 countries, giving away over US $6 million.
As we learnt more about each of these themes, we became increasingly aware that environmental degradation was becoming a key (if not the key) issue underpinning all of our interests. We found ourselves funding children’s education projects where the focus was about obtaining freshwater and healthy meals; while refugee projects often seemed to be less about politics and more about climate displacement and access to resources.
Conversely, projects focusing on saving species were more about politics and people than conservation biology: who owns the land? Who has access to the resources? Is there enough science? Do we create animal sanctuaries or support protected areas?
As we began to investigate how we could get more involved in conservation, the thing that struck us was how appallingly under-funded the field is, especially considering how important the natural world is to us all – far from being a ‘luxury’, saving nature amounts to saving ourselves.
We also quickly realised that it is an incredibly complicated field – there are thousands of organisations with varying levels of expertise and capacity working around the world; the issues range from local to global and are often unconstrained by national borders; virtually everything involves negotiations between politicians, global businesses, and local people; and success in conservation is very difficult to measure. We believed that if we were having a tough time negotiating the conservation landscape, then others must find it equally daunting.
So, we evolved. We created Synchronicity Earth – an organisation that as