Charity to empowerment: philanthropy funds pave innovations in climate and health – Times of India


SINGAPORE: Despite the growing global attention on climate transition, former British prime minister Tony Blair pointed out at the ongoing Philanthropy Asia Summit (PAS) 2024 in Singapore that funding towards renewable energy projects in developing nations has actually declined in recent years, while developed nations have seen an increase. Blair, therefore, stressed the need to create more investable projects in developing regions to leverage public-private-philanthropic partnerships (PPPP), enabling such projects to attract the significant private funds circulating globally.
Without philanthropy, governments alone cannot drive sustainable global progress, Blair stated. Also an executive chairman of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI) and having held office as PM for two terms, Blair said philanthropic initiatives can no longer be seen as only charity since they are driving real impact.
Started in 2021, the PAS is an annual event that convenes global and regional philanthropists to address issues around three broad subjects—Climate & nature, Holistic & inclusive education and Global & public health. PAS is the flagship event for the Philanthropy Asia Alliance (PAA), an initiative by Singapore-based Temasek Trust to advance collaborative philanthropy.
Dawn Chan, managing director of investments at Temasek Trust Capital, pointed towards a disjunction in the deployment of global impact assets within Asia. Despite Asia representing over half of the world’s emissions and accommodating three in five of its population, only about 25% of the US$1 trillion global impact assets under management find their way into the region. This disproportion, Chan said, underscores the urgent need for greater resources to nurture transformative startups in Asia.
Addressing the audience, Chan, whose speech was conveyed by Desmond Kuek, CEO of Temasek Trust, stressed on the critical role of early-stage ventures in driving innovation. However, he noted a common challenge faced by these ventures—the ‘valley of death,’ where promising ideas often falter due to a lack of sustained support and resources. “Startups require continuous backing and access to diverse resources across all stages of growth,” Chan added.
Highlighting the interconnectedness of climate, health, and education, Chan advocated for integrated approaches to problem-solving. He said that Asia must be central to global efforts in combating the climate crisis. Chan highlighted the region’s proactive steps toward achieving a net-zero future, where greenhouse gas emissions are balanced by removal from the atmosphere, by citing examples from India, China, and SouthEast Asia to illustrate the region’s progress in renewable energy adoption.
In India, he noted the rapid growth of clean energy, with renewable electricity constituting approximately 44% of the country’s total installed capacity. Additionally, India has emerged as a prominent center for wind energy manufacturing.
Turning to China, Chan highlighted its leadership in renewable energy production, boasting the title of the world’s top producer of solar panels and electric vehicle batteries. China’s significant contribution to global wind and solar power installations. “By 2028, almost half of China’s electricity generation is forecast to come from renewable energy sources,” he said. In Southeast Asia, Chan spoke of Indonesia’s recent strides in renewable energy, including the unveiling of two major projects—an expansive floating solar power plant in West Java, ranking as the region’s largest, and Indonesia’s first green hydrogen plant in Jakarta.
Building on the momentum of such innovative initiatives, Lim Seok Hui, CEO of Philanthropy Asia Alliance, said, “Private public partnerships need a fourth ‘P’ in it-Philanthropy. It is time to discuss beyond fundraising and delve into the role PPPPs – in driving real impact,” she added.
Seok Hui’s call resonated with the collaborative spirit fostered at COP28 in Dubai, where the inaugural Business & Philanthropy Climate Forum convened. With over 1,200 private sector and philanthropic leaders in attendance, the forum set the stage for concerted efforts toward global climate and nature action.
“Trillions in transition finance must be unlocked every year for us to get to net-zero. Asia alone needs an estimated US$1.7 trillion in annual climate and infrastructure investments through 2030 and this can only be met by a combination of concessional and commercial capital,” said Seok Hui.
Blair stressed that while swiftness and innovation is integral in philanthropic initiatives and often lacking in governments, innovators and philanthropists have to nevertheless take government on board to address environmental changes on a broader level.
Speaking of diverse forms of philanthropy, Blair said there are types that have the capacity to alleviate immediate suffering such as tackling a food crisis or drought, and then there are ones that can catalyze transformative change to tackle pressing global challenges such as climate transition and sustainable development. According to him, “The best philanthropy is the one that is most sustainable in the long run even when philanthropic dollars stop. It’s the one that introduces systematic changes,” he said. Blair said it is also important that philanthropists try new things. “Don’t get locked into one model of doing things. Keep open minds,” he underlined.
Meanwhile, at the PAA, several initiatives were launched to align startups and philanthropic funders. Co-Axis, introduced during the event, unveiled over 70 solutions from 40+ countries to accelerate impact. It aims to connect funders with early-stage businesses and charitable organizations to scale innovations addressing sustainability challenges.
Additionally, the Amplifier Mentorship Programme selected five climate and nature impact innovators for a 12-month capacity-building program. Mentees will work on sustainable agriculture, waste management, and emission reduction, receiving a $250,000 grant and mentorship from over 30 industry leaders from Indonesia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and the US.


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