AVPN Virtual Conference 2020 Charting an Action Plan towards a Resilient Asia

Next Year's Conference to be held in Bali, in Partnership with the Government of Indonesia

SINGAPORE, June 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The 8th AVPN Conference closed on Friday, a historic meeting bringing together 7500 delegates from over 100 countries and 156 speakers virtually to leverage the power of networks and co-create solutions for an impactful, sustainable and more resilient society over the next decade. Senior leaders from the private and the public sector are seeing businesses pivot from profit supremacy to a stakeholders-first approach. To reflect the burgeoning social investment opportunities in Indonesia, next year's annual conference will be held in Bali, supported by the Indonesian government.

7500 delegates from more than 100 countries joined the 8th AVPN Conference between 8-12 June, making it the largest social investing conference in Asia. Delegates represented the corporate, investment, philanthropic and public sectors, as well as development institutions, social enterprises and NGOs. With 44 sessions addressing current social and environmental priorities such as climate action, gender equality, health and education, the 5-day virtual conference provided a multi-stakeholder platform for decision-makers to lay the groundwork on how to build a more resilient and sustainable world.

The conference hosted more 156 speakers, including Jacqueline Loh, Deputy Managing Director for Markets and Development, Monetary Authority of Singapore; Angela Tanoesoedibjo, Vice Minister of Tourism & Creative Economy, Indonesia; Julie-Ann Guivarra, Australia's Ambassador for Gender Equality; Robin Hu, Sustainability & Stewardship Temasek International; Ai Hua On, Company Group Chair, Asia Pacific, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals; Manolo Arroyo, Chief Marketing Officer, President of the Asia Pacific group, The Coca-Cola Company; Leong Cheung, Executive Director of Charities & Community, The Hong Kong Jockey Club; Wendy Cromwell, Vice Chair, Wellington Management; Iqbal Dhaliwal, Global Executive Director, J-PAL; Sandra Breka, Member of the Board of Management, Robert Bosch Stiftung; Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder & CEO, Acumen.

Now is the time to "Build Back Better"

"This is not the time to reduce social spending", stated Naina Subberwal Batra, CEO and Chairperson of AVPN in her opening remarks. She further emphasized on the more-than-ever crucial role of social investors: "We are all social investors now. We can no longer think about impact as just "giving back" or "doing good". The new normal must be that social and environmental priorities are interconnected with economic progress for resilient ecosystems to be less vulnerable in times of uncertainty." Jacqueline Loh, Deputy Managing Director for Markets and Development at the Monetary Authority of Singapore, pointed in her keynote address towards the importance of strong engagement between governments and the private sector, as well as the unique opportunity to create systemic change: "The pandemic provides a prime opportunity for countries to "build back better". It is important now, more than ever, that countries not only rebuild their economies and preserve jobs, but also in the process, intentionally build a more sustainable new economy. Public-private partnerships will be key to achieving this."

Multi-sector collaboration needed to enable sustainable development

A common thread throughout the week was the call to place multi-stakeholder collaboration at the centre stage. For businesses and investors, this signifies integrating impact and purpose across their value chains and portfolios. To unlock more local private capital towards impact, however, one of the key barriers is the lack of an enabling environment to simplify this complex process. "There are many different roles to play. But one thing is clear: governments and the private sector need to enhance collaboration, in order to shift policy and practice towards inclusive and equitable sustainability," says Niall O'Connor, Asia Director of the Stockholm Environment Institute.

Private philanthropists play an equally important ecosystem-building role in augmenting government efforts through catalytic first-loss capital to encourage traditionally low-risk investors to mobilise resources towards impact. "Collaboration is key," said Tim Hanstad, CEO, Chandler Foundation. "While Government and Marketplaces are the key drivers of prosperity, social investors can have greater impact through collaboration with organizations on the frontlines that are working closely with governments. Together we can go upstream to address some of the biggest challenges of our time including inequality and climate change." The Conference's spotlight on scaling access to quality education demonstrated the need for philanthropy to pilot good practices, while local governments scale proven concepts. "The Yidan Prize Foundation promotes research for excellence and ideas by recognising outstanding education developments. This is a necessary lever for education systems to construct new knowledge and innovative solutions that can grapple with the complexities of tomorrow", says Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills at OECD and Head of the judging panel of the Yidan Prize, the world's largest education prize that seeks to prepare learners with competencies that are critical for an increasingly complex, volatile and ambiguous world.

Voices from leading entrepreneurs on the ground also pointed out that if the lives of end-beneficiaries have not improved despite meeting other supporting targets, the system has not improved.

Working at the nexus of socio-environmental challenges is key to systemic change

Yet, the complexity and scale of these challenges makes risk-adversed capital providers stay away from driving systems change. Astute funders and resource providers additionally warned against the risk of over-allocating resources to the pandemic at the expense of investing in systems change that is imperative to protecting against future, likely larger threats.

Time and again, the panellists emphasised that challenges in the 21st century can only be systemically addressed if organisations plan and work at the nexus of multi-dimensional issues. A clear example was demonstrated in growing efforts to build a low-carbon and climate-resilient environment in Asia through financing solutions and infrastructure that support clean energy, community development, healthcare, and water and sanitation.

Sustainable finance builds resilience against volatile economic conditions

Sustainable finance has reached a turning point as ESG funds have been outperforming their conventional counterparts despite the market downturn. "Many countries that are suffering the impact of this pandemic would have been better served by adopting a sustainable finance approach beforehand," says José Viñals, Group Chairman, Standard Chartered PLC. "We must realise the value of allocating capital to these basic needs, as it's not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do." While speakers gave clear evidence that investor demand for sustainable investing has increased across all asset classes and markets, they were calling for respective regulatory frameworks to create a more enabling environment for sustainable investment to flourish.

AVPN 2021 in Indonesia to move closer to the needs on the ground

In partnership with the Ministry of Tourism & Creative Economy of Indonesia, the AVPN Conference 2021 will be held in Bali, Indonesia from 14-18 June 2021. The partnership is a testament to the importance of collaboration between government and social investors to forge a path towards an inclusive recovery and resilient future. Angela Tanoesoedibjo, Vice Minister of Tourism & Creative Economy, said, "We are thrilled to have AVPN 2021 in Indonesia. The country offers endless potential for investments in the social impact space and we are looking forward to collaborating and exploring opportunities with AVPN's ecosystem to drive capital towards impact." 

AVPN Inaugural Constellations Laureates – Forming a blueprint for replication

In line with the conference topic The Power of Networks AVPN launched its first challenge to identify outstanding social investment collaborations that are addressing complex issues in Asia. The five Laureates were announced during the conference:

  • Better Investment for Stunting Alleviation (BISA) assists the government of Indonesia to implement nutrition policies and utilise government funding to eliminate systemic stunting. Partners include The Power of Nutrition, Nutrition International, DFAT and Asia Philanthropy Circle.
  • The Quality Education India Development Impact Bond (DIB) is the world's largest education development bond which seeks to improve learning outcomes for primary school children in marginalised communities in India. The more than 15 partners include The British Asian Trust and UBS Optimus Foundation.
  • The initiative to integrate AI into India's Public Health supports the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in rolling out the National Digital Health Blueprint, which will relieve the pressure on public healthcare services. Partners include the International Innovation Corps, and The Rockefeller Foundation.
  • The Future Right Skills Network empowers more than 100,000 youth in India every year with foundational employability skills by leveraging digital technologies. Partners include Accenture, CISCO, and Quest Alliance.
  • INSPIRASI improves school leadership in medium and low performing primary schools in Indonesia. The partnership, led by Tanoto Foundation, Djarum Foundation, and Triputra Agro Persada, also works with philanthropists, corporates, academics and policymakers.

Learn more about the Constellations Laureates here.

AVPN was able to produce this first of its kind convening, entirely remote in only a few weeks thanks to its diversified skills portfolio and strong collaboration with its members. The support of its partners, including Chandler Foundation, Yidan Prize Foundation, Stockholm Environment Institute, Standard Chartered, Ford Foundation, Sasakawa Peace Foundation, WOCAN, Credit Suisse, Wellington, Lui Che Woo Prize, The Climate Pledge, City Developments Limited, Investing in Women, The United Nations Development Programme, and BRACE – all of whom made it possible to open up the event to a truly global audience. To watch the recordings or read the session highlights of the conference, please visit https://conference.avpn.asia/agenda-2020/

About AVPN

As the only comprehensive funders' network in Asia, AVPN is a leading ecosystem builder for the social investment sector with 600+ members globally. AVPN's mission is to catalyse the movement toward a more strategic, collaborative and outcome focused approach to social investing, ensuring that resources are deployed as effectively as possible to address key social challenges facing Asia today and in the future.

For more information, please visit www.avpn.asia

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