Kristian Gerhard Jebsen Foundation

At the beginning of 2020, the Kristian Gerhard Jebsen Foundation brought together, in Brussels, a group of European NGOs to reflect on the opportunity to build a coalition on the topic of food contact materials, believed to be the number one source of consumers’ exposure to chemicals. This was the last in-person meeting before the COVID pandemic obliged all dealings of the Foundation Board and relations with its partners to take place online.

The first concern of the Foundation was for its grantees, the health of their teams and their capacity to continue their activities and respond to the new needs of the communities they serve.

Partners active in the educational field – whether Teach for the Philippines and MovEd in the Phillipines or IntoUniversity in the United Kingdom – were particularly challenged, as lockdowns prevented direct interactions with children. Where possible, they moved their support on-line. They also developed hybrid approaches, handing out activity sheets to parents and caretakers, empowering them to carry out activities with their children at home. The Foundation Board was impressed by the responsiveness, agility and adaptiveness demonstrated. It adjusted and increased its support to allow for greater flexibility to grantees in their response to needs.

Early on, in the spring of 2020, it launched a reflection process as to what this major crisis may mean for the future and how it should adjust its approach accordingly. Food insecurity is a topic of major concern as is the rise of mental health issues. To impact on rural livelihoods and empower smallholder farmers, the Foundation has partnered with Access Agriculture, an NGO which facilitates knowledge transfer from farmers to farmers, across the world. It manages a library of more than 220 pragmatic agricultural-related videos translated in up to 80 local languages, which are made freely available on-line and offline through local partners.

In the Philippines, it scaled its support to the Zuellig Foundation to improve nutrition and nutrition governance at provincial level.

In the UK, it backed the Right2Food Campaign through the FoodFoundation.

It also initiated a new partnership with HomeStart, a leading home-visiting charity for families, which adopts a compassionate non-judgmental supportive approach. The partnership focuses on piloting a new approach, though specifically trained volunteers, in support of expecting and new parents, struggling with a range of challenges they may be confronted with (post-natal depression, isolation, bereavement, access to social support services).

Furthermore, the Foundation expanded its involvement in the field of palliative care, joining other partners in the creation of a Chair in Palliative Psychology, at the Lausanne University Hospital, CHUV, in Switzerland.

It was also pleased to see Prof. Marcel Salathé from EPFL play a groundbreaking role in the development of a privacy-protecting contact tracing app, which has since been adopted by numerous countries in an effort to curb contamination rates.

Created in memory of Kristian Gerhard Jebsen, the Kristian Gerhard Jebsen Foundation aims to enhance the well-being of people and promote human and social development, through support of grantees in the areas of health, education, science, culture and environment, in Switzerland and abroad.