PARIS – L’Oréal Group has launched a 15-million-euro endowment fund focused on communities facing the biggest disaster risks.
“We have noticed, like everybody, in the last years more and more climate change-related disasters,” Alexandra Palt, chief corporate responsibility officer at L’Oréal Group and chief executive officer of the Fondation L’Oréal, told WWD. “We know that it will become even more frequent [and severe] in the next years.”
She was speaking just after the devastating earthquake in Morocco and flooding in Derna, Libya, took place, claiming thousands of lives.
Estimates show that disasters driven by climate have increased five-fold over the past 50 years and represent 50 percent of all natural catastrophes. Up to 3 billion people live in areas that are exposed to such disasters, and that number is expected to rise by 1 billion by 2050.
L’Oréal’s new fund, to be unveiled at Climate Week NYC that runs from Sunday to Sept. 24, is created to reach vulnerable communities via partnerships with local disaster relief organizations and non-governmental organizations.
The Climate Emergency Fund will concentrate on organizations that “prepare” to help reduce the impact of climate disasters before they occur and that “repair” to reestablish key infrastructures and services after there’s a disaster.
The first two organizations to receive backing from the new fund include The Solutions Project and Start Network.
The Solutions Project is a U.S.-based NGO that funds and amplifies climate justice solutions created by Black people, Indigenous people, immigrants, women and communities of color.
“We cannot just think that climate disaster is going to touch the poorest in the poorest countries, but also the poorest in richer countries,” said Palt. “It’s always people who are either poor, discriminated or excluded who will be those who suffer most from climate change.”
Start Network is an alliance of more than 80 NGOs across five continents.
“They work a lot on innovation, and early and rapid financing in order to support people when they are in a crisis, to really provide early and effective responses when the crisis strikes,” said Palt.
“It is clear that while climate emergencies are global in nature, some communities are at far greater risk of near-term climate disasters and must develop resilience to these looming crises before they strike,” said Christina Bennett, chief executive officer of Start Network, in a statement.
“In partnership with L’Oréal and local organizations rooted in their communities, we will enable these communities to prepare and protect themselves, with the tools and know-how delivered by local teams familiar with their circumstances and well-placed to help them rebound more quickly,” she said.
L’Oréal’s Climate Emergency Fund is not currently undertaking a call for proposals, but continues itself to identify innovative solutions, Palt said.
She explained there is a learning curve in finding the solutions, as the frequency and severity of climate-related and natural disasters has escalated.
The fund is part of a larger ecosystem L’Oréal has put in place to help burgeoning humanitarian and environmental challenges. The group also has launched the L’Oréal Fund for Nature Regeneration, the Circular Innovation Fund and the L’Oréal Fund for Women.
“We have a lot of experience with innovative solutions in the philanthropic space,” said Palt. “All these funds try to create new models that can bring answers and responses to the new challenges.
“What we have seen in in our activities and experiences is that we need new ways of financing and intervention,” she continued. “And so we will be once again direct our fundings to local small community stakeholders. It will be either through local networks or bigger organizations who are connected with these local stakeholders.”
The idea is to develop solutions for communities so they can react and act themselves.
“That’s what we have done through the L’Oréal Fund for Women,” said Palt.
She said the Climate Emergency Fund will complete L’Oréal’s philanthropic endeavors, which have a total investment of more than 200 million euros.
“Of course, all this does not change or slow down any of our own environmental transformation,” said Palt. “But we also think that we have a responsibility to contribute externally.”