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The Health and Climate Fast-Start Fund

By Surabi Menon

The impacts of climate change are increasingly being felt. From record heat waves that pose particular risks to the health of the young and elderly, to growing levels of ground-level ozone and air pollutants that cause premature mortality, to lowered crop yields that undermine food security, climate change potentially touches every aspect of our lives.

Given this complex web of climate and health linkages, our response to the climate emergency needs to be aggressive—and coordinated with the expertise of others whose focus is not solely on climate.

It was with this intention that ClimateWorks Foundation and the Packard Foundation brought together a group of health and climate funders to specifically address the devastating impacts of climate change on public health. The result was the Health and Climate Fast-Start Fund (FSF), a two-year philanthropic accelerator intended to seed promising solutions to improve air quality, decarbonize the health sector, promote health equity, and mobilize grassroots responses to climate change from within the health community.

I’m proud to share with you this report, which expands on these signature accomplishments of the Fast-Start Fund:

      • The Global Health and Climate Alliance expanded its Unmask My City initiative to three more cities globally, with the goal of mobilizing a coordinated response to the cities’ poor air quality.
      • The Nature Conservancy’s Breathe Easy Dallas project attracted new funders and government partners to its effort to study air quality in Dallas public schools and its links to pediatric asthma.
      • Various efforts to collectively address air quality issues in India gained traction, including a new collaborative called the Clean Air Fund that has emerged to address the root causes of air pollution in many cities in India as well as in Europe.
      • Health Care Without Harm made important strides in its efforts to develop scalable models to decarbonize the health sector.


We at ClimateWorks are extremely grateful to our funding partners—the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Lyda Hill Philanthropies, Oak Foundation, and The Rockefeller Foundation—for their leadership on the Fast-Start Fund and for their continued commitment to building a collaboration to fight climate change.

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Published August 27, 2019