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The Asia-Pacific region contributes to over 55% of the global greenhouse gas emissions, which has continuously increased between 2010-2022. Over the past 53 years, the region has experienced almost ten weather, climate, water, and seismic-related disasters on average each month. The environmental disasters over the years translate to approximately 3,200 lives lost and USD 3.8 million in economic damages monthly.
Disasters, as a percentage of GDP, cause more damage in Asia and the Pacific than in the rest of the world, and this gap has been widening. The high rates of GDP loss are due to the fact that more than 60% of Asia-Pacific workforce rely on sectors highly susceptible to changing weather patterns.
Change is needed and it is needed urgently. With the help of technology, many organisations have shown great innovations and solutions in solving climate and sustainability issues. However, there is a need to bring these solutions to a larger scale.
“There are so many incredible organisations that are building innovative solutions that benefit their communities and beyond. So, we want to support more organisations as we work towards an equitable and a sustainable future,” said Kate Brandt, Chief Sustainability Officer, Google at the Eco Business Unlocking Capital For Sustainability 2023. “I am so proud to announce at this event that we are committing another USD 5 million to the APAC Sustainability Seed Fund. This second phase of the fund will continue to support Asia-based nonprofits that are addressing key challenges, such as water preservation, circular economy, air quality, waste management, and more.”
Supported by Google.org and Asian Development Bank (ADB), the USD 5 million APAC Sustainability Seed Fund 2.0 will provide financial and non-financial support to legally registered non-profit organisations operating in the Asia-Pacific region. The second round of APAC Sustainability Seed Fund will also provide non-financial support in the form of capacity building to improve the tech-led solutions.
“When tackling problems at this scale, you need to be patient and focus on capacity building and scaling organisations. That is why this Fund is very important. We are looking at smaller nonprofits to support their organisations in various aspects,” said Naina Subberwal Batra, CEO, AVPN during the launch of the Fund.
One of the grantees from the first Fund, Gujarat Mahila Housing Sewa Trust, shows a great example of how the grant helped this nonprofit scale their efforts. By leveraging artificial intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and the Internet of Things (IoT), they are able to address the threats of water scarcity and flooding across India. With the grant, the organisation is working to develop AI-enabled models to map the area surrounding the town Amalner in India, to anticipate floods. They will serve as archetypes for over 310 fast-urbanising small towns in India.
Technology emerges as a transformative force, offering innovative avenues to address these challenges. The Fund will guide non-profit organisations to optimise, grow, and scale their innovations and solutions to create greater impact.
“We were inspired by many NGOs’ tech-enabled sustainability projects that were supported by last year’s Fund,” mentioned Marija Ralic, APAC Lead, Google.org. “We know the challenges that these social impact organisations face in APAC are very diverse. Many of them know how to leverage basic or more advanced technology, including AI, to solve these issues, but there are still some of them that don’t have those capabilities. Our approach is to always listen to those organisations, understand their challenges and see how we can be helpful.”
AVPN is inviting expressions of interest for non-profit organisations with technology-led solutions and innovations to tackle climate and sustainability issues until 15 December 2023. To find out more about the APAC Sustainability Fund 2.0, visit https://avpn.asia/philanthropic-fund/apac-sustainability-seed-fund-2