Many grave challenges are facing the world. Some are the consequences of an unpredictable global pandemic; others result from specific man-made decisions, be it the invasion of Ukraine, the fragile energy infrastructure in Europe, or the interest rate hikes the world over.
Our gravest challenge is climate change. We are already seeing signs everywhere - the ancient ice shelves in Antarctica are calving; and one-third of Pakistan is flooded, covering an area the size of Britain. We are becoming the proverbial frog, reacting to boiling water only when it is too late.
I would like to share my thoughts on four major priorities, the "4 Ps", that I see in the non-profit space.
I will also touch on how Temasek Trust will work with participants of this summit to help catalyse actions for a more sustainable and resilient world.
First and foremost, we are already headed towards a much warmer world, with more extreme climate changes to come.
We know how localised climate changes in the past have destroyed old empires and ancient civilisations. Without a liveable world, modern human civilisation can collapse overnight.
And well before the world becomes unliveable, the stresses and disasters of climate change will fall disproportionately on the poor and the disadvantaged.
Hence, I put to you, that our planet must be a top priority for the next 10, 30, 50, 100 years and longer.
What else should we focus on in these troubled times?
I would suggest that peace is the second most important "P" for collective action.
Peace is necessary for a better world. Without peace, children cannot go to school, and the sick cannot access medical treatment. Without peace, we cannot plan and build long-term infrastructure. Not just hard infrastructure like fibre and satellite networks, but also important soft infrastructure like open and objective judicial systems, accessible and inclusive education, or a just and pragmatic transition with a future-ready workforce.
Peace is rather elusive too. There is no clear blueprint for success.
Peace depends on building human bridges of understanding across all sorts of intangible social and international divides. These include religious or political fractures, race or language conflicts, wealth or digital divides. Often, these human divides result from exclusion.
So the peace we need to work towards must be the peace of an inclusive world, whether within a society, a country or among nations.
The prerequisites for peace include trust and goodwill. Peace can come only by connecting people, by fostering a deeper respect for common humanity, by nurturing a more self-confident and open-minded acceptance of a diverse and plural world.
The 3rd "P" is without doubt people.
All these efforts for planet and peace are really to enable people and mankind to survive and thrive for decades and centuries to come.
Education, healthcare, even digital and financial inclusion, are some of the most powerful ways to uplift lives and livelihoods and build socially connected communities in a diverse world.
The 4th "P" is progress.
Living beings are not static. We grow, change, learn, unlearn, relearn, and adapt along the way. The cycle of learn, earn, and return, for people and corporations, is critical for societies to progress.
The pandemic has taught us that we can make progress by investing in knowledge, capabilities and capacities, and by marshalling resources across the world to deliver solutions.
Above all, the pandemic has reminded us that no one is safe until everyone is safe.
Hence, progress must be both just and inclusive, leaving no one behind. We need to embrace a progressive mindset of care for others, including our future generations yet unborn.
This leads me to the enabling "P" of partnerships.
Without partnerships, it is hard to deliver on the "4 Ps" of planet and people, peace and progress. To go far, we must go together.
Partnerships require trust and patience to build mutual confidence. It requires courage to go out of our comfort zone and lean in to help others succeed. Above all, it requires an open mind to embrace the diversity of people and the ingenuity of ideas not invented by ourselves.
Philanthropy Asia Summit 2022
The starting point for the Philanthropy Asia Summit is to connect people and build partnerships to act for the greater good.
For this second edition, the calls to action are focused on three key themes:
- Climate action and sustainable communities
- Inclusive education
- Resilient healthcare
Once again, like-minded partners are connecting resources and capabilities to foster innovations, drive momentum, and scale impact on the ground.
Following the inaugural summit last year, many participants have told us that they were keen to see a more systematic and structured approach for catalysing partnerships for action.
Over the past few weeks, several institutions, foundations, and supporters have stepped up readily with an initial funding of over US$200 million (S$287 million) to start up an alliance for action, the Philanthropy Asia Alliance.
Founding core members include Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Dalio Philanthropies from the US; Li Ka Shing Foundation from Hong Kong; as well as four companies of Sinar Mas, and the Tanoto Foundation from Indonesia. These early core members have committed US$25 million each.
Other pathfinder partners and supporters have committed between US$1 million and US$10 million each.
Temasek Trust, too, has pledged US$100 million to underwrite the infrastructure to operationalise this alliance.
Different members have different interests. For instance, Dalio Philanthropies is highly focused on exploring and protecting our oceans, while the Tanoto Foundation is keen to focus on education to uplift lives and livelihoods.
We expect to onboard more members in the coming months. Some will add their financial heft, while others will provide their domain expertise.
For example, the World Economic Forum is coming on board as a strategic partner for this alliance.
Others like Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and WongPartnership have selflessly offered pro bono legal support to help set up this alliance.
I am humbled by, and give my heartfelt thanks to everyone for, this overwhelming and early vote of confidence for a more coordinated and integrated approach with the Philanthropy Asia Alliance.
Clearly, it is also a heavy responsibility for Temasek Trust to work with all the alliance members and partners in the months and years ahead to deliver impactful outcomes.
Indeed, Asia can be a force for the greater good. The alliance will curate, catalyse and support partnerships for action such as this summit. It will convene, connect and combine the best of Asia and international resources, ideas and organisations. The alliance aims to develop, adapt and seed solutions that are relevant to the diverse context of Asia.
As we work towards a formal launch of the alliance in the next nine to 12 months, I take this opportunity to thank Mr Lim Boon Heng, chairman of Temasek Holdings, for kindly agreeing to chair a pro tem council for the Philanthropy Asia Alliance.
The pro tem council will develop the governance framework to respect the focused interests of alliance members. This could include separate councils to guide programme curation, or track programme outcomes and impact measurement. The framework must also support the adaptation of solutions for the varied local conditions or the complexities of multilateral efforts. These could include pilots for innovative approaches like "Pay for Success".
This hybrid summit is an example of learning to live with Covid-19. So, it is fitting for me to publicly thank all the friends and partners who have been working tirelessly with Temasek Foundation so swiftly, and selflessly, over these past two plus years, to help people mitigate the horrific impact of the pandemic.