Philanthropy to take centre stage at COP28 

Business figures, private donors, and development actors to meet at UN conference in Dubai to discuss ways to raise more funds for global climate and nature action.

Leaders from philanthropy, development, and business will meet at COP28 in the UAE for a first-of-its-kind forum to explore ways in which the private sector can help to achieve net-zero emissions, support climate adaptation, reverse nature loss, and restore biodiversity. The two-day event - taking place on the sidelines of the main climate negotiations - is hoping to attract as many as 500 executive level delegates from around the globe to discuss strategies for bringing the annual financing gap of over three trillion US dollars required to tackle the effects of climate change.

The Business & Philanthropy Climate Forum (BPCF) is being hosted by the COP28 Presidency as part of a push to accelerate climate action through cross-sectoral partnerships and collaboration. It will be chaired by COP28 Special Representative for Business and Philanthropy, Badr Jafar, an Emirati philanthropist, who also serves on the COP28 Advisory Committee.

“The private sector holds the greatest promise to accelerate the accomplishment of our climate and nature global goals, which is why COP28 will ensure business and philanthropy are embraced as critical partners,” Jafar explained.

A number of international agencies, development banks, and networks are partnering with COP28 to take part in the forum. These include: the International Finance Corporation (IFC); the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development – Network of Foundations Working for Development (OECD-NetFWD); the World Economic Forum’s – Giving to Amplify Earth Action (GAEA); the Asian Development Bank; the Africa Finance Corporation; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF); and XPRIZE.

"The private sector holds the greatest promise to accelerate the accomplishment of our climate and nature global goals."

Badr Jafar, Emirati philanthropist and founder of the Pearl Initiative

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“The business and philanthropic community is uniquely positioned to catalyse innovation and find solutions to address climate change, including mitigation and adaptation," noted a spokesman for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "We believe that the COP28's Business & Philanthropy Climate Forum will inspire and encourage bold action to overcome the climate challenges for the most vulnerable communities that are already feeling the impacts, especially smallholder farmers."

Anousheh Ansari, the CEO of XPRIZE, a philanthropy and business-backed global leader in innovation-focused challenges, added: “We’re excited to participate to set bold new moonshots at a critical turning point for our planet. “

More than US$3bn worth of commitments were made by philanthropic foundations at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt in 2022.  The Bezos Earth Fund, the BMGF, the Rockefeller Foundation, and IKEA Foundation were among those to announce new funding for programmes. This included: improving agricultural techniques and boosting food security; safeguarding forests; making transport more sustainable; and reducing reliance on fossil fuel generators.

The philanthropic pledges came amid criticism of how private donors have only been committing two percent of their annual giving to the climate crisis, despite the scale of the need and the deleterious impact climate change has on other areas they fund.

There are currently no prominent climate funders from the region, despite many countries in the Middle East and North Africa being on the frontline of climate change with rising temperatures and drought already affecting water supplies and food production systems, exacerbating fragility in places already struggling with conflict, a bulging youth population, and weak governance.

The BPCF will be held on 1 and 2 December and take place across the Blue and Green zones at COP28, which will be at Expo City in Dubai. - PA