On January 12, 2018, the Fourth East-West Philanthropists Summit drew to a close in Hawaii. This year's summit was jointly organized by the China Global Philanthropy Institute and the East-West Philanthropy Forum (or EWPF for short), centered around the theme of "United Action for a Sustainable Planet." Nearly one hundred philanthropists and leaders from around the world engaged in passionate discussions on a wide range of topics, including ocean protection, climate change, sustainable cities and communities, green finance, and impact investment, with an overarching goal of making new contributions to sustainable development efforts around the world by taking concrete actions.
This Summit was held in response to Chinese President Xi Jinping's recent statement that "the socialist view of ecological civilization must firmly establish a new modernization framework where man and nature coexist in harmony and peace, create an excellent environment for people in which to have productive, optimal living conditions, and make contributions toward enhanced global ecological security." to the Summit also addressed the promises made in The Paris Agreement by the world's major powers regarding the fight against climate change. It was planned that the Summit would include the formulation of the “East-West Sustainable Development United Action Framework,” and that more green investments would be encouraged. through the guidance of the “East-West Sustainable Development United Fund” (or UF for short), with the goal to enable philanthropists from around the world to take united action in the fields of addressing climate change and protecting nature.
The meeting consisted of four smaller press releases directed at the following four topics, namely the "East-West Philanthropic Leader Sustainable Development Future Action Plan and Global Marine Protection Action Alliance Initiative," the "Global Climate Change Initiative to join Together in Pursuit of a Shared Future for Humankind," the "Sustainable Movement for Green Finance and Impact Investment," and the "Initiative to Build a Sustainable Movement for Community Revitalization through Art and Culture."
As one of the major results of this summit meeting, Chinese and American philanthropists gathered together to launch the Global Marine Action Alliance. The Qiaonyu Foundation, headquartered in Beijing, and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (or UNOSSC for short) set the "Qiao United Action Plan" in motion, aimed at addressing climate change and protecting nature, and placed under the UNOSSC for implementation. Lu Dezhi, President of Huamin Charity Foundation, presided over the ceremony and introduced the release of the English versions of his trilogy about "the Spirit of Capital and Collective Sharing." Moreover, Maya Soetoro-Ng, the founder of Ceeds of Peace and the maternal half-sister of the 44thPresident of the United States of America, read out a letter entrusted to her by her brother President Obama to the meeting at the award presentation ceremony.
Attendees of this Summit included Niu Gensheng, Founder and Honorary President of Lao Niu Foundation and Founder of Mengniu Dairy Co.; He Qiaonyu, Founder and President of Qiaonyu Foundation and Chairman of the Board of Oriental Land Investment Holding Group; Wang Shi, Founder of China Vanke Co., Ltd. and President of Vanke Foundation; Lu Dezhi, President of Huamin Charity Foundation and author ofThe Collective Sharing Civilization; Representative of Global Philanthropy Leaders Dong Fangjun, the President of Beijing Dongfangjun Charity Foundation and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Dongfang Huiquan Financial Holding Co., Ltd.; Wang Zhenyao, President of China Global Philanthropy Institute and Secretary General of the East-West Philanthropy Forum; Soichiro Fukutake, President of the Fukutake Foundation and Honorary Advisor of Benesse Corporation; Thomas Kaplan, Founder and Chairman of Panthera; Richard Sneider, CEO of One World Star International Holding Company; Adam Sweidan, Founder and Chairman of Synchronicity Earth; Marvin and PJ Marshall, Co-founders of Restore the Earth Foundation; Jorge Chediek, Special Envoy to the UN Secretary General and Director of UNOSSC; David Sandalow, Former Assistant Secretary of Policy and Energy Affairs of the US Department of Energy and Co-director of Energy and Environment at the School of International and Public Affairs of Columbia University; David Lassner, President of the University of Hawaii; Ruth Gates, Director of the Hawaii Marine Biology Research Institute of the University of Hawaii; Richard Vuylsteke, President of the East-West Center; and representatives from nearly 30 foundations, including Dalio Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Obama Foundation, Paulson Institute, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, and The Nature Conservancy. Huamin Charity Foundation and Ningxia Yanbao Charity Foundation sponsored this summit. Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. was the Summit’s sustainable development sponsor, allowing the conference to go paperless for the meeting materials.
Action-driven new philanthropy movement brings fresh hope for achieving sustainable development goals
Since 2014, the East-West Philanthropy Forum (EWPF) has held three successful annual philanthropists summits and one special summit focused on sustainable development. The China-US Strategic Philanthropy Partnership (CUSP), which was established in 2010, was EWPF’s predecessor. EWPF believes that “philanthropy is changing the world and shaping our future.” The Forum aims to serve as an action-oriented platform where philanthropic leaders from East and West connect to solve some of the world’s most urgent environmental and social challenges, such as climate change and sustainability, social finance and innovation, the empowerment of women and youth, and family and cultural legacy, through applied research, public/private partnerships, education, and exchange.
Brought together through this important platform for philanthropists from the East and West, the philanthropists from China, the United States, and other countries have reached a series of strategic agreements for united action. One of the important outcomes from the summit is the Global Marine Protection Action Alliance, jointly launched by philanthropists from China and the United States.
Since its inception, EWPF has been promoting the idea of “Action, Action, Action!” within the philanthropic circles in the East and West. The Global Marine Protection Action Alliance is the latest united action taken by philanthropists from China and the United States in response to challenges in the field of oceanic protection. Through ultimate enthusiasm, the spirit of sharing and collaboration, and adopting flexible mechanisms, the philanthropists from East and West strive to carry out this momentous commitment to save the world’s oceans.
Wang Zhenyao, President of China Global Philanthropy Institute, says the Global Marine Protection Action Alliance Initiative is crucial because that the sea is the largest, most precious ecological environment humankind and all other species rely on. He extended a call to action to all philanthropists, nonprofit organizations, entrepreneurs, scientists, artists, and citizens from around the world who love and care about the ocean, humankind, and the earth and worry about their fates. This mission begins with joint action to protect the oceans.
The alliance will determine conditions that need to be met for any organization that would like to join. The position of chairman will rotate among members, and alliance actions will be coordinated among members. The organizations in the alliance may take unilateral, bilateral, or multilateral action. A permanent oceanic protection forum and secretariat will be set up in Hawaii, and a meeting will be held every year to promote and fortify the collaborative relationships.
At the Summit, He Qiaonyu, Founder and President of Qiaonyu Foundation, said, "Nature changes rapidly and does not leave us much time to study or make preparations. We must take action while we study. We hope to find the best organizations and projects from candidates gathered from around the world to mitigate the environmental protection crisis."
At present, the global philanthropic community has already realized the urgency of ocean protection, and philanthropic organizations from various countries are strengthening exchanges to increase the strategic investment of resources and to formulate effective solutions. At the summit, UNOSSC and Qiaonyu Foundation launched the “Qiao United Action Plan” to help combat climate change and promote the conservation of nature. The plan is that within the next five years (from 2018 to 2023), the Qiao United Action Plan will provide a total of RMB 85 million as the program's first batch of donations to help developing countries strengthen their actions and cooperation to address climate change and environmental protection.
Jorge Chediek, Special Envoy of UNOSSC to the UN Secretary General and Director of UNOSSC, said at the press release that the "Qiao United Action Plan" will build a bridge for international cooperation and enhance climate partnerships, and help countries in the Southern Hemisphere cope with climate change and strengthen environmental protection measures. The Qiao United Action Plan will maintain the United Nations' attention to action and cooperation on the issue of climate change, and will help to implement the UN Secretary General's "Climate Change Focused Strategy (2017 to 2021)."
Wang Shi, President of Vanke Foundation, pointed out that EWPF is an action-driven philanthropy platform and has won approval and praise from both Chinese and foreign philanthropists in the fields of climate change and sustainable development. He believes it will attract more and more philanthropists of great stature in the future.
Thomas Kaplan, Founder of Panthera and world-famous protector of big cats, says he focuses on big cats because they act as keystone species. Protecting big cats means restoring local ecological systems, which in turn benefits other species and even local communities. He also made remarks about the importance of philanthropists putting aside their own interests to express universal love to all, and said with high praise that China has displayed greater leadership in fields such as climate change and clean energy.
Wang Shi, Founder of China Vanke Co., Ltd. and President of Vanke Foundation, shared his experiences and thoughts since he first took part in an international conference on climate change in 2009. He says that more and more Chinese entrepreneurs are taking joint action with the Chinese government and philanthropists to protect the environment and encourage sustainable development, and public education is becoming increasingly important. Marvin and PJ Marshall, co-founders of Restore the Earth Foundation, believe they are starting from scratch in giving back to the community through focusing on the four most important things: health, opportunity, philanthropy, and the environment. They said that restoring the earth is a long process and is more challenging than simply setting up nature reserves. The Marshalls also commented about the similarities of the Yangtze River, which is the most revered river to the Chinese people, to the Mississippi River, which is like a mother to many Americans. They believe this proves that "Chinese and American philanthropists think alike."
Progress of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda is slower than expected,
new partnership is urgently needed to add impetus
The report released at this summit, titled the "Report on Action in Response to Sustainable Development from Philanthropic Circles in the East and West," shows that the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda is universal, focusing on methods of execution, emphasizing partnerships, and relating closely to climate change. The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda covers a wide range of topics, and includes a rather long, complicated process to include 169 sub-goals under 17 major goals in the agenda. In fact, the goals set forth in the agenda, including achieving economic growth and social tolerance and enhancing environmental sustainability, are all very challenging.
At present, the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda is progressing slower than expected, and there is an urgent need for new partnerships to add momentum. Neither various national governments nor the United Nations possess all the resources or capabilities needed to reach these goals, and it is necessary to create a mechanism for formulating and executing policies by which multiple interested parties can participate on a global scale. The latest data both at a global level and in China clearly indicate that the philanthropic community has already made significant contributions in promoting and funding the sustainable development goals.
Lu Dezhi, President of Huamin Charity Foundation, delivered an excellent speech at the ceremony held to introduce the English version of his trilogy about the “Spirit of Capital and Collective Sharing.” In his speech, he put forward his ideas on a wide range of topics, including the spirit of capital, capital and collective sharing, 21st-century philanthropy, family foundations, and the collective sharing civilization, as well as other capital sharing and civilization development theories. He explored some concepts and ideas in the areas of innovation in modern philanthropic theory and practice. His speech was praised by all participating distinguished guests.
Soichiro Fukutake, President of the Fukutake Foundation, shared the “Naoshima method” which involves using art to create a happy community, and declared that modern art is a powerful weapon against the decline of rural areas. In fact, he is now joining forces with Dong Fangjun, a Chinese philanthropist, to replicate this “Naoshima method,” which has already been a proven success in Japan, on Peach Blossom Island in Shandong Province.
The most noteworthy, world-famous achievement of the "Naoshima method" is the transformation of a polluted, small island into an environmentally-friendly, low-carbon-emission island using art and design, echoing the environmental trends of nearly a half century. At present, many phenomena such as climate change and ecological imbalance are making many people want to bring about changes in development methods.
Dong Fangjun, President of Beijing Dongfangjun Charity Foundation and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Dongfang Huiquan Financial Holding Co., Ltd., is one of the few philanthropists from China who has joined the Giving Pledge. He believes ecological civilization is an important component of humankind's destiny, and he hopes to draw lessons and inspiration from the "Naoshima method" in his effort to find a way to prosperity that aptly suits the unique characteristics of China's rural areas.
According to Dong Fangjun, the process of urbanization is worsening in China. Many rural areas, which used to be filled with beautiful scenery, have become empty nests. They are desolate and are falling into ruin because there are only older people and children left, and the vitality has been lost. The state has been hoping to revitalize these rural areas, and private philanthropy has a significant role in helping improve the situation. In fact, "revitalizing rural areas through art and culture" is a great cause worth pursuing which requires creativity and innovative thought.
Niu Gensheng and He Qiaonyu, co-chairmen of EWPF, call on philanthropists in the East and West to take united action and make more contributions to sustainable development.
To show respect for philanthropists from the East and West who have contributed positively to sustainable development, EWPF invited Jorge Chediek, Special Envoy of UNOSSC to the UN Secretary General, and Maya Soetoro-Ng, Founder of Ceeds of Peace and the maternal half-sister of the 44thPresident of the United States of America, to present the "Global Sustainability Leader" awards. The honor of “Pillar of Sustainability” was awarded to Wang Shi, Founder of China Vanke Co., Ltd. and President of Vanke Foundation, and Lu Dezhi, President of Huamin Charity Foundation. The “Pioneer for the Planet” award was given to Dong Fangjun, President of Beijing Dongfangjun Charity Foundation and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Dongfang Huiquan Financial Holding Co., Ltd.; Richard Sneider, CEO of One World Star International Holding Company; Adam Sweidan, Founder and Chairman of Synchronicity Earth; and Marvin and PJ Marshall, Co-founders of Restore the Earth Foundation. The honor of “Catalyst for Action” was bestowed upon Thomas Kaplan, Founder and Chairman of Panthera, and Soichiro Fukutake, President of the Fukutake Foundation and Honorary Advisor of Benesse Corporation. The title of “Dream Maker” was awarded to Niu Gensheng, Founder and Honorary President of Lao Niu Foundation and Founder of Mengniu Dairy Co.; He Qiaonyu, Founder and President of Qiaonyu Foundation and Chairman of the Board of Oriental Land Investment Holding Group; and Dang Yanbao, President of Ningxia Yanbao Charity Foundation and President of Ningxia Baofeng Group. Finally, the grand honor of “Legend of Hope” was given to Xie Zhenhua, Lead Negotiator for China in the United Nations Climate Change Conferences and Deputy Director of the Human Resources and Environmental Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference; Gordon Moore, Co-founder and President of Intel Corporation and Co-founder of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation; and Earl Bakken, Founder of Medtronic, Inc.
Maya Soetoro-Ng, Founder of Ceeds of Peace and the maternal half-sister of the 44thPresident of the United States of America, read out a letter from President Obama to the meeting at the award ceremony. In his letter, Barack Obama said, “My sister, Maya has told me about the high-level meetings you have convened in the US, China, Japan and Europe, and the effective partnerships you have formed for education, the environment, and a safer tomorrow. These are issues of great importance to me as well, so I encourage you to continue the good things you are already doing and thank you for your efforts to protect the environment, promote sustainable energy, and build healthy communities. Your work to increase understanding and collaborative problem solving, engage in social entrepreneurship and green finance, and encourage young leaders is vital to our shared future.”