Climate and Nature

Asia's philanthropists may hold the key to unlocking climate and nature solutions

Some of the world's most important philanthropists are based in Asia — they have a key role to play in the fight against climate change.

Some of the world's most important philanthropists are based in Asia — they have a key role to play in the fight against climate change. Image: REUTERS/Edgar Su

Luis Alvarado
Head of GAEA Program, World Economic Forum
Seok Hui Lim
Chief Executive Officer , Philanthropy Asia Alliance (by Temasek Trust)
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  • Some of the world’s largest family-owned companies and their foundations are based in Asia.
  • These philanthropists are energized to start using their money and influence to address the climate crisis.
  • The World Economic Forum's GAEA is supporting this effort, which can be carried out effectively by leveraging Public-Private-Philanthropic Partnerships.

When it comes to climate and nature action, Asia is a keystone player. With about 60% of the global population and responsibility for more than 50% of global emissions, we cannot ignore Asia and its influence.

A key enabler of lowering global emissions is the flow of capital — particularly philanthropic funding.

Less than 2% of global philanthropic funding goes to climate and nature. 12% of this global spending comes from Asia, versus 43% from North America and 23% from Europe.

Matching the ambition in Asia

For many philanthropists, especially in Asia, climate and nature are still perceived as too technical and this horizon too far out. It has traditionally been easier to focus on poverty, education and health. Carving out a niche rather than looking through a system change lens at climate and nature which cuts across everything, including geographies, systems and sectors.

Change is happening. The will to win is there. Some of the world’s largest family-owned companies and their foundations are based in Asia. Philanthropy in Asia has the potential to go further in funding climate and nature solutions.

In the region, a new generation of philanthropists want to be part of the climate and nature solution. The goal now is to match this growing ambition and make it easier for Asian philanthropists to get involved in the fight for nature and climate.

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Harnessing Asia's philanthropists through PPPPs

GAEA (Giving to Amplify Earth Action) launched a call for action in January 2023 with the goal of unlocking $3 trillion in annual financing — needed to reach net-zero by 2050 and preserve biodiversity — through public-private-philanthropic partnerships (PPPPs).

GAEA’s report “Catalysing Climate and Nature Action in Asia: The Unlocking the Power of Philanthropic-Private-Public Partnerships (PPPPs)” will launch at COP28. The report interviewed over 50 actors — philanthropists, asset managers and more — across more than 17 countries with a total disclosed giving of $3.7 billion last year, with at least $1.9 billion funding to climate and nature globally and $580 million to climate and nature giving in Asia.

The report will map out gaps, opportunities and the top climate and nature priorities of key actors across the region. It will also share the learnings and recommendations for building value shared, co-created strategic partnerships to secure more funding and drive greater impact.

Based on the analysis, clear strengths of PPPPs have emerged:

1. Alliance builders and conveners

PPPPs create spaces for actors to connect and collaborate to feed the need for information and bring diverse voices to the table. PPPPs provide a forum to showcase what is possible through collective action and celebrate progress. At the Philanthropy Asia Summit (PAS) in September, Temasek Trust officially launched the Philanthropy Asia Alliance (PAA) to promote collaborative philanthropy and prime Asia as a force for good.

PAA is the first Asian partner to sign up to support GAEA and comprises over 70 action-oriented members and partners from across the globe. The Alliance has a shared goal of harnessing its collective strengths to amplify impact and accelerate action to address urgent environmental and social challenges.

In addition to PAA, this year’s PAS also saw the launch of ecosystem-building initiatives to accelerate sustainability and impact. This included Co-Axis — a digital catalytic capital marketplace that brings together a broad range of efforts and actors across the philanthropy sector, from donors and investors to impact startups and NGOs, to build a community of impact at scale.

The Amplifier, a 12-month mentoring programme, was also launched to support impact startups by providing them access to mentorship, vital professional services and commercial opportunities.

These initiatives are underpinned by partnerships, and focus on building capacities, capabilities and communities to accelerate and amplify impact.

2. Matching research to investment opportunities

PPPPs partnerships can enable the matching of research and investment opportunities. The National University of Singapore is bringing academia and its knowledge about data and markets and the private sector together to co-create innovative solutions.

There is an opportunity to change focus from pure research to operational research, collaboration, and communication. For example, Resilient Cities Network, a leading urban resilience network, is building resilience to climate change across 40 countries, including 11 in Asia and the Pacific. This network is working to establish resilience plans for more than 4,000 projects around climate resilience and circularity to build safe and equitable cities. Through collaboration with Temasek in the Philippines, for example, they are investing in new technology and learning tools to bring nature-based solutions closer to children, building more climate-resilient schools.

3. Capacity and capability building

Being purposeful about coordination and capacity building is essential. PPPPs are the engine to drive this forward, ensuring the build phase is established through common objectives and shared language. It can be challenging working across Asian countries, as economical, administrative and cultural norms can change drastically from one nation to another. Actors must dedicate a large amount of time to build up informal relationships with local administrative partners before projects can take off. Changes in administration and policy can also massively affect the execution of projects.

Policy is the number one tactical solution deployed for climate and nature solutions, and PPPPs can be the building blocks to creating an enabling policy environment.

4. Driving dynamic innovation

PPPPs bring together diverse actors to leverage their unique capabilities and deliver innovative new ideas or projects. Often, the philanthropic fund serves as the initial investment to ignite a project, the public provides creditability and structure and the private sector brings the innovative technology and sustains the projects past its initial cycle.

Innovate Enterprise Singapore is also an example of a forum driving innovation through the Ministry of Environment. It is also brainstorming creative ideas around procurement and creating demand signals, for example around alternative protein products in every hospital in Singapore.

New generation PPPPs in Asia

Asian philanthropists are ready to scale their impact through collaboration. Climate and nature action is fast emerging as a key area of focus. As a direct response to the change signals in the philanthropy ecosystem in Asia, GAEA and PAA are set to provide an incubation space to co-design PPPPs for the planet.

We need to be intentional about creating the right environment to grow the number of PPPPs across the region. They are platforms that can unite people and capacity behind a strategic vision, KPIs and a roadmap to breakthrough for climate and nature action.

The World Economic Forum and PAA will continue to work to deliver meaningful PPPPs and help to apply them at scale. Doing so will mean philanthropic capital can de-risk and unlock even bigger sustainable funding sources, and also facilitate market entry points.

Radical collaborative PPPPs connect and harness the networks, resources and expertise of Asia’s philanthropists at scale — the impact and potential of this could be transformative.

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Climate and NatureClimate ChangeDavos Agenda
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