Philanthropists and experts join the climate crisis session 'Philanthropy: A Catalyst for Protecting Our Planet' at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos Image Credit: Supplied

At a special session on climate philanthropy hosted at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, public, private and philanthropy leaders gathered to amplify efforts to achieve net zero and nature positive goals. The session, titled ‘Philanthropy: A Catalyst for Protecting Our Planet,’ took place as the United Arab Emirates prepares for hosting COP28 Emirates Climate Conference later this year.

Opening the session, Borge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum, highlighted that less than 2% of global philanthropy currently goes towards climate change action and called for greater collaboration between stakeholders to scale impact. John F. Kerry, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, followed by emphasising the urgent need to harness the power of catalytic philanthropy to protect the planet for all life.

Moderated by Gim Huay Neo, Managing Director, Centre for Nature and Climate, World Economic Forum, the session convened business and policy leaders including Mark Carney, UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance, Desmond Kuek, CEO, Temasek Trust, H.E. Dr. Rania Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation, Egypt, and Badr Jafar, CEO of Crescent Enterprises.

It is estimated that currently, between USD $7.5-12.5 billion of global philanthropy is spent on climate action with funding for climate mitigation tripling in the past five years. The discussion focused on the opportunity for strategic philanthropy to unlock trillions in private capital and government-procured funds towards meeting climate goals, while also highlighting the important role for philanthropy across global growth markets including the Middle East and North Africa to help create an enabling environment to accelerate action.

Badr Jafar, CEO, Crescent Enterprises, who is also the Founding Patron of the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy based at the University of Cambridge and Strategic Philanthropy Initiative at NYU Abu Dhabi, commented: “Climate change affects us all. It has the potential to deeply impact human health and capital assets with issues such as extreme heat, water scarcity and poor air quality already creating systemic challenges for global growth markets. Rising to the challenge of tackling these issues requires a truly collaborative approach, and a combination of political will, private capital and home-grown innovation if we are to unlock the $100 trillion additional investment needed to transition to net zero.”

During the session, the World Economic Forum launched its Giving to Amplify Earth Action (GAEA), a public-private-philanthropy partnership for climate and nature calling for a multi-stakeholder and multi-sector approach to embrace global philanthropy to catalyse climate action, announcing Badr Jafar as a Champion of the initiative.

“As we witness the largest generational transfer of wealth of over 60 trillion dollars take place in the coming years, we have a unique opportunity to embrace a cultural shift in giving, to use this vast wealth to attain sustainable and inclusive prosperity globally,” Badr Jafar remarked. “Regions like the Middle East and Africa stand the most to gain from climate adaption and mitigation investments, and COP28 in the UAE will create a global architecture for all capital actors to act together at speed and at scale,” he added.

The discussion was hosted as part of WEF’s climate multi-sector collaborative to unlock the private finance and public funds needed to regenerate the earth systems across nature, ocean, conservation, restoration, air quality, water, food systems, biodiversity, industry decarbonisation and green technology deployment.