Two plus years ago, Ecotrust and Ecotrust Canada sent Ian Gill, the founding President and 16 year veteran of Ecotrust Canada to start a third member of the Ecotrust family in Australia. A well-seasoned conservation economy visionary and champion, Ian set his sights on supporting indigenous communities in Northern Australia to document their territories and build economies of right type and scale for their place and their culture.
He and his team also laid a tremendous amount of groundwork for social finance in that country – recognizing the need for alternative forms of capital to support local and regional development. After a valiant effort, Ian has just announced to his staff, board and partners that the funding to sustain Ecotrust Australia’s work is simply not to be found. A weakening philanthropic environment, continued uncertainty around our global economic health, and a mission that in some ways challenged the status quo of power and money in Australia has combined to bring an important organization, at a critical time in that Nation’s history for aboriginal reconciliation and for thoughtful resource development, prematurely to its knees.
We are sorry to lose our ‘legs’ in Australia, and sad for the commitment and dedicated staff that have worked so hard to make a go of the mission of place-based development. We note that the closure of Ecotrust Australia in no way impacts the operations of Ecotrust or Ecotrust Canada – both of which maintain separate operating and governance structures appropriate to our countries of origin. At this time the longer term plans for Ian and family have not been announced but the Ecotrust Canada family will be very pleased if they elect to return home.