Our Work:

Building a just, green and equitable economy.

CDF_Environment Icon_Grass Green_Environment

Boldly building a just, green, and equitable economy

Arctic ice melts. Oceans rise. Crops wither. Forests burn. Our planet is in collapse and humans are to blame. Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions - the most certain determinant of present and future warming - remain at levels similar to the year 2000. The incremental approach chosen by business and governments to end the climate emergency isn’t working.


We face this global crisis against the backdrop of a pandemic that has heightened the importance of strengthening our social safety net and addressing deep inequality. Both COVID-19 and the climate emergency disproportionately impact the most marginalized.


As we collectively begin to re-imagine and re-build our economies, we seek to actively challenge a return to ‘normal' that includes tremendous wealth inequity, unsustainable extraction of the earth's resources, human rights abuses, racism, and the exploitation of vulnerable communities.


This moment is a reminder that the status quo can and must be disrupted. This is an opportunity to choose climate solutions to build the future we need by being bold, imaginative, collaborative, and just.


July 2024


“Ecojustice has been at the forefront of environmental protection using the law for over 30 years. Yet it was our partnership with the Catherine Donnelly Foundation which spawned our most visionary work – fighting for Canada to join a global movement of legally recognizing the human right to a healthy environment. With CDF’s support, Ecojustice has pushed legal boundaries in litigation to fight for Canada’s youth to have the right to a climate-safe future, and law reform to entrench that right. When we achieve those goals, it will be because of CDF’s support. I am proud to be supported by this remarkable organization that shares our values and vision of a thriving environment, safe climate, and healthy communities.”

Devon Page

Ecojustice’s Executive Director

Environment at a glance


By Spring 2023, our Environment funding stream will have provided more than 190 grants.


These grants total over $9 million.

A woman and young child standing on a beach looking at the water

Objectives and approach

Our Funding Objectives

Environmental initiatives seek to mobilize public opinion to build up the ‘just’ industries and economies of the future that generate green jobs as part of a low-carbon economy. These efforts should support place-based, resilient, wellbeing economies that protect workers’ rights, eradicate poverty, distribute wealth equitably, and uphold human rights.

Our Approach

In the spring of 2016, the Catherine Donnelly Foundation announced an environment funding strategy aimed at promoting climate justice and supporting initiatives that accelerate the transition to a post-carbon world. Our approach recognizes an inseparable bond between nature, justice for the marginalized, a commitment to society and reconciliation with Inuit, First Nations and Métis people.

In 2020, in response to the effects of the pandemic and its particular impact on BIPOC communities, CDF further refined its funding strategy to prioritize climate justice mobilizations that focus on communities and voices traditionally excluded from the work of building a new, low-carbon economy, including racialized, low income and Indigenous Peoples.

Our Priority Areas

  • Showing leaders there is an appetite to build a new economy by informing and seeding public opinion, supporting public engagement and mobilization around a just recovery, including grassroots or organizing work.
  • Organizing and strengthening important sectors of the new economy with robust economic power and new voices
  • Creating and sharing positive and empowering new narratives of hope. Much public discussion focuses on what is wrong with institutions or systems rather than the creation and dissemination of positive new narratives about how we want to live together.
  • Building a collective power base through collaboration across different communities, sectors and geographies in Canada to build agreement around goals, values and principles such as an inclusive, equitable, anti-racist, gender-inclusive, and just green economy.
  • Particular interest in projects arising from or engaging with communities and voices that have traditionally been marginalized and excluded (racialized, low-income, Indigenous) in building the new economy around the following: renewable energy, restoration, conservation economy, green buildings, electric vehicles, local food systems, circular economy (to name a few)
  • Enhancing capacity within First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities and sharing their worldview of an interconnected relationship with nature as a foundation or model for building a sustainable future.

Our environment initiatives

Supporting coordinated activity to create social, environmental and structural change

Individual organizations work to change what is important to them or their communities. The Catherine Donnelly Foundation funds projects that promote networking and coordinated activity to create social, environmental and structural change.

After all, it is easier to transform our world if we work together - across communities, sectors and philosophies - identify common problems and find solutions that benefit everyone.

That’s why the Foundation recently provided funds to support For Our Kids, a nationwide environmental network helping parents and grandparents connect with like-minded neighbours and organizations to mobilize against the climate emergency.

The Catherine Donnelly Foundation also committed to Indigenous Climate Action’s three-year plan to develop resources to connect and empower Indigenous climate change leaders and position them as agents of change for climate justice.

The Foundation supports projects that encourage a just and equitable transition to a low-carbon economy, such as the installation of solar panels at Indigenous language and culture camps that promote Indigenous-led climate justice movements in Elliot Lake, Ontario and Moose Lake in the traditional territory of the Fort McKay First Nation, Alberta. In New Brunswick, Community Forest International is mobilizing citizen climate action by encouraging relationships among settlers and First Nations and by providing access to the emerging conservation economy.

Our longstanding relationship with Ecojustice assists their goal of establishing environmental rights as part of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms – a legal strategy that could guarantee every Canadian’s right to a healthy environment. Ecojustice’s ambitions are bold and require perseverance– CDF has supported the initiative for ten years Link to Ecojustice thank you video here

Together these projects build greater understanding of the climate emergency, address climate justice, a green transition and potentially unlock an underlying condition to meet our target of a clean, sustainable environment.

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