Building Back Greener: Addressing Climate Change in Asia

HONG KONG, Dec. 11, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS), a uniquely Asian, independent, action-oriented research and advisory organization, released its latest research report, Building Back Greener: Addressing Climate Change in Asia. The report draws insights from interviews with 163 individuals and experts from companies, foundations, and nonprofits across 10 Asian economies (Mainland China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Chinese Taipei, and Thailand) aiming to examine the ways in which Asian private capital—from corporations, investors, and philanthropists—is being brought to bear on current environmental challenges. Additionally, the report presents Asian perspectives on climate action and provides recommendations for public and private sectors.

When considering how Asian funders address environmental challenges, the study identifies four characteristics:

  1. The influences of Asian economic realities and the dominance of family-owned firms. First, the Asian region comprises primarily emerging markets, so competing agendas must be balanced to address community needs holistically (for example, balancing poverty alleviation with environmental protection). Second, families remain the dominant shareholders and decision-makers within many corporations throughout Asia. Business leaders see their companies as vehicles through which family values and legacies are expressed. This helps explain why many wealthy families channel much of their philanthropy through the corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts of their businesses.
  2. Alignment with the government. Businesses follow government cues closely and often partner with local, regional, and national government agencies to address societal and environmental concerns.
  3. Connection to local areas and communities. Business leaders and philanthropists feel connected to the place because of historical family ties but also due to the location of their business operations. This connection and history provide a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by the community and the people and networks that can influence change.
  4. Win-win solutions linked to business interests. The great majority of climate mitigation and adaptation efforts take place within companies. Individual philanthropy is often entwined with business operations which can lead to comprehensive solutions that can be beneficial to both the environment, the company and the community.

“Asia is on the front line of climate change, and its most vulnerable communities are most heavily affected. However, there is a global north-south divide when thinking about and addressing climate challenges. CAPS is pleased to provide a platform for Asian voices to discuss the reality on the ground inside Asian communities, as well as how local companies and organizations are adapting to and mitigating environmental changes. Having a better understanding of needs and contexts will enable Asian companies and philanthropies to engage more meaningfully and positively,” explained Mr. Ronnie Chan, Co-Founder and Chair of CAPS.

Dr. Ruth Shapiro, CAPS’ Co-Founder and Chief Executive, said, “Companies in Asia are recognizing the urgency to act now to support their communities better and minimize risk to their business activities. Despite this, interviewees faced similar challenges when trying to address environmental issues through private social investment, such as balancing competing interests, lack of human resources, concerns over standards and metrics, and unclear and untenable policies, regulations, and targets. If we are to engage funders from Asia in a meaningful way, we must consider tailored approaches that reflect the developing-economy reality of balancing the needs of people and the planet.”

The report indicates several ways in which private capital can be mobilized more effectively toward environmental projects in Asia, including:

  • Capacity building: At a company level, this requires expanding learning and development, establishing sustainability key performance indicators (KPIs), and establishing enabling corporate governance structures. Other aspects include supporting supply chains and helping to build government capacity.
  • Simplification of environmental and sustainability standards: Streamlined and context-relevant metrics can offer benchmarks that take into consideration the economy’s specific needs, aspirations, and resources available.
  • Policies and incentives: Governments play a significant role in creating financial incentives for private social investment in climate action, for example, through tax incentives and green investment subsidies. Governments can also create non-fiscal policy-related financial tools such as green and sustainable bonds and carbon markets. 
  • Effective communication: Although environmental action has long been a part of Asian culture, environment, social and governance (ESG) and other sustainability frameworks are relatively new to the region. Good internal and external communication will help stakeholders see the benefits of initiatives around these metrics.
  • Platforms for multisector collaboration: Better coordination and collaboration can prevent the waste of valuable resources and multiply environmental benefits. Governments can play an essential role in leveraging multisectoral resources, leading to win-win-win outcomes for the government, companies, and society.

To access the full research report, please visit:

About CAPS

Established in 2013, the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS) is a uniquely Asian, independent, action-oriented research and advisory organization, committed to improving the quality and quantity of philanthropic giving throughout Asia. Our mission is to improve the social investment sector in Asia by researching and advising best practices, models, policies, and strategies that can contribute to positive system change.

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