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Catalyzing engagement on climate action

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Christina Ameln

Catalyzing Engagement on Climate Action

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‘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.

References

A. Environmental Stewardship
To protect the environment, we organize programmes like mangrove nursery and Reforestation, Coastal and River Clean-Up, Community Based Environmental Solid Waste Management, Environmental IEC Campaign and Eco-Academy

B. Food Security and Sustainable Livelihood
To ensure a sustainable livelihood for the community, eco-tourism include Buhatan River Cruise Visitor Center Buhatan River Mangrove Boardwalk are run by the community. Others include Organic Vegetable and Root crops Farming, Vegetable and Root crops Chips and by-products Processing and establishing a Zero waste store.

C. Empowered Communities
To empower the community, we provide product and Agri-Enterprise Development Training, Immersion and Learnings Exchange Program, Earth Warrior Training and Community Based Social Entrepreneurship Training

Author

Christina Ameln

Christina Ameln believes in the power of connections to maximise sustainable impact. Christina is currently working as the Director, Insights & Academy and was previously working as a Project Director and Vietnam Advisor for AVPN. She manages the AVPN annual signature event the AVPN Global Conference collaborating with the host partner and leading the internal teams across its 34 markets for a top notch delegate experience and to create further action on positive impact in Asia. The Kuala Lumpur 2023 was the most successful conference to date with over 1300 delegates from 44 countries in which AVPN facilitated over 9,000 connections, and curated 103 sessions. Christina is now working on the Abu Dhabi edition for an even more successful gathering in April. As Vietnam Advisor, Christina guides member companies through their AVPN continuum of engagement and creates meaningful connections for greater impact on social and environmental issues. Also a Sustainability Strategist and Advisor, she supports companies to future-proof by integrating sustainability into their business models. She has worked with corporates; and multilateral and non-profit organizations in Asia and Europe. Prior to consulting and project managing, she was at publicly listed hygiene and forestry company SCA (now Essity and SCA) and drove the company’s CSR engagement internally and externally as CSR Director; and at Hifab International, a consultancy and project management company, Ameln worked as a CSR Specialist. As Senior Manager, Corporate Strategies & Member Services at the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GBC), a not-for-profit corporate membership organization, she worked at mobilizing the private sector in the fight against the three pandemics. This was led by the late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, former United States Ambassador to the UN and President Obama’s former special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Christina has an MBA from Nottingham University and a BBA from the University of Kent at Canterbury. A life-long learner, and to focus energy on other items during the height of COVID-19, she consolidated her learning with an online course with Cambridge University Institute for Sustainability Leadership on Business & Climate Change: Towards Net Zero. She has sat on the Board of Trustees for the UK headquartered Global Girl Project working on leadership for girls in the Global South from 2021-2023; and on the Board of Advisory for Vietnamese NGO LIN Center for Community Development from 2018-21. Christina writes and talks regularly on sustainability on various platforms such as the Vietnam Investment Review; and was profiled in July’s issue of Forbes Vietnam and BBC News Vietnamese on COP26 in 2021. In building the Vietnam sustainability ecosystem, she also encourages experts to share their thoughts on her blog platform Sustainable Vietnam. Fun fact: Christina is also the author of the Aya & Bobby illustrated children’s books on travel and discovery.

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