Catalyzing engagement on climate action

Catalyzing Engagement on Climate Action

June 11, 2019


‘Our house is on fire!’

Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenage activist, regularly reminds the world that she is still a child – yet faced with an awesome responsibility. She is waking up a new generation to the climate crisis that threatens our planet and its resources. By insisting that the time to panic has arrived, she gives new focus and energy to the climate change movement. Greta is adamant that we need to speak up, engage, innovate and take risks to address this crisis. Climate change cannot be tackled alone. Many are joining new and old voices to make an impact. These include membership organization AVPN, who together with the Growald Family Fund (GFF) and other members, are looking at catalyzing this movement.

Climate Change and Development

In the short time since I have returned to Southeast Asia, I have already witnessed a change in rain patterns. As the planet temperature changes, it impacts the natural cycle of rainfall, evaporation, snow, stream flow and other factors that alter the water supply. This impacts water quality as well as pollution levels – to name just a few knock-on effects.

Climate change is intertwined with development – poor people in low-income countries feel the impacts first and hardest. Why? Because these people are most dependent on the land, live in vulnerable areas and have less resources to recover losses and property. Simply put, if severe weather destroys the homes and crops of already-struggling farmers, they will have few to no options to get back on track.

Mobilizing Resources to Fight Climate Change

While climate change has historically not been top-of-mind for social investors in Asia, AVPN is acting as an “accelerator” of action.  It is motivating its members to increase the capital available to fight climate change, emphasizing the power of collective efforts. “At AVPN, we are putting this topic up front as we recognize the need not only to cover the breath of investment approaches, but also the depth in social causes. As part of our Breaking Boundaries theme at the AVPN Conference 2019, addressing climate action will be a big part of the agenda”, Caroline McLaughlin, Director of Partnerships, AVPN

The Growald Family Fund is one of these ‘accelerators’ they are working with. Its mission is to catalyze climate innovation and leadership through venture philanthropy. Eileen Rockefeller Growald, Co-Founder and Chair says: “As philanthropists, we care about a range of issues from human health to children’s wellbeing to biodiversity to clean air. However, climate change poses the greatest risk to all the issues we care about”. She continues by explaining: “We believe that philanthropy plays a key role in nurturing new approaches to climate solutions, supporting objective analysis for use by governments and key partners, and building a vibrant civil society”.

GFF´s approach has three pillars, which deeply complement and reinforce each other:

  1. Collaboration: From experience it knows that one of the most powerful tools for change is collaboration. It is dedicated to engaging in and supporting deep partnerships and networks with other funders, think tanks, nonprofits, and academic institutions.
  2. Venture Philanthropy Portfolio: It identifies and funds a portfolio of grantees based on a venture philanthropy model. Through this, it provides multi-year core funding coupled with business planning and management support.
  3. Furthering the Field: It funds key research and often supports/hosts convening and networking events to promote strategic discussions.

In the words of one of its co-founder: “This support, together with the work done by governments and businesses, can help to create the meaningful transformation that is needed for the climate, as well as air and water pollution”.

Daring Solutions

The challenges posed by climate change are not limited to weather patterns; they include humanitarian, environmental and economic trends, many of which will soon be irreversible.  GFF gives life to the essential message of Greta Thunberg: “With daring solutions, innovative approaches, bold vision and coordinated action, we can avoid some of the worst impacts of climate change.”

Since 2007, GFF has been promoting the financial and social opportunities emerging from the global transition to clean energy. “As electricity accounts for 42 percent of all global emissions, the shift to clean energy is an incredible opportunity to work towards sustainable and equitable development. We are dedicating our resources and our passion into moving away from the threat and towards the opportunity”, affirms Eileen. “Climate change is both the greatest challenge and the greatest opportunity of the 21st century”.

Shared Climate Challenges

Eileen maintains that: “Climate change is an issue vital to the Asia-Pacific region that is too complex to be solved by a single individual, organization or government”. With this in mind, she looks forward to attending the AVPN Conference 2019 in Singapore. “We are inspired to explore our shared climate challenges with Asian philanthropists and other partners. This is a truly international issue – one that requires the energy, commitment and determination of people across the globe.”

Suffice to say: We are all Gretas after all – we all want to engage in keeping our ‘house’ intact.

To participate and contribute to the discussion on Climate Action related sessions, join the Growald Family Fund and other AVPN members National Geographic; ClimateWorks; Brace and Circulate Capital at the AVPN Conference 2019 in Singapore from 25-28 June.

About Author
Christina Ameln
Christina Ameln CSR/Sustainability Advisor / Member of the Board of Advisors Ameln & Co. AB / LIN Center for Community Development

Christina Ameln is a Senior Advisor and Founder of Ameln & Co. She consults on and manages CSR and Sustainability projects for companies as well as multilateral and non-profit organizations. Some of her most recent engagements include: working with UNDP on the integration of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into corporate supply chains in Vietnam; advising a Singaporean private equity company on the setting up an impact investment fund; and working with the LIN Center for Community Development in Vietnam to convene the “go-to” annual conference on partnerships, impact and sustainability in Vietnam.

Prior to running her consultancy, Ameln led the CSR arm in the sustainability department of the Swedish hygiene and forestry company SCA. In this capacity, one of Ameln's notable accomplishments was to ensure that the Code of Conduct was revamped, integrated throughout the business, regularly monitored. She also worked closely on its Sustainability Reports and set up new compliance foundations internally and with SCA suppliers.

At Hifab International, a consultancy and project management company, Ameln worked as a CSR Specialist. In that capacity she helped companies understand best practices and was trained on SA8000 auditing. At the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GBC), a not-for-profit corporate membership organization that mobilizes the private sector in the fight against the three pandemics, she developed member corporations' CSR footprints and best-practice policies in her role as Senior Manager, Corporate Strategies & Member Services. Many companies were from the Fortune 500 list. This was led by the late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations and President Obama's former special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Ameln has an MBA from Nottingham University and a BBA from the University of Kent at Canterbury. Ameln works to connect all sectors for a resilient Vietnam and sits on the Board of Advisors of LIN Center for Community Development (an AVPN member). She also writes regularly about sustainability and is author of the Aya & Bobby illustrated children's books on travel and discovery.