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Why philanthropy capital matters to scale up the fight against climate change

Badr Jafar says philanthropy plays a pivotal role in addressing the climate crisis by catalyzing innovation and bridging financing gaps

Why philanthropy capital matters to scale up the fight against climate change
[Source photo: Badr Jafar | Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

Utilizing nature-based solutions such as conservation and land management can contribute significantly to achieving one-third of the required climate mitigation goals outlined in the Paris Agreement. But climate philanthropy can enable a swifter and more ambitious solution to aid communities and ecosystems impacted by global warming.

As the global community grapples with the urgent climate challenges, philanthropic initiatives have become powerful instruments for mobilizing resources, fostering innovation, and bridging critical gaps in financing.

“Historically, there’s been this perception that activism equals good, and capitalism equals bad. But the reality is, we need a more collaborative approach to solve the climate challenge,” says Badr Jafar, COP28 Special Representative for Business and Philanthropy and Chair of the Forum. 

He says business and philanthropy have dynamic capabilities and resources to co-create solutions and drive real action. The forum’s inclusion in the COP agenda sends a clear message about the private sector’s pivotal role in meaningful and sustained climate action, he adds.


In the context of climate action, philanthropy, unlike traditional financing mechanisms, can accommodate the high-risk nature of certain climate-related projects, especially those exploring innovative technologies or operating in regions vulnerable to climate impact.

 “Philanthropy has a unique role in climate finance, offering flexibility and a risk tolerance that other forms of capital don’t.” It helps to incubate novel ideas and projects, acting as a catalyst for innovation in climate solutions.

Furthermore, philanthropy can address the climate finance gap, a significant barrier to achieving ambitious climate goals. The need for substantial financial resources to transition to a low-carbon and resilient future is well-documented. According to estimates, over $4 trillion is needed annually to meet climate goals. When strategically directed towards climate-focused initiatives, philanthropic capital can significantly contribute to reducing this financing shortfall.

The COP28 Business and Philanthropy Climate Forum, as highlighted by Jafar, explores strategies to enhance the impact of philanthropy in climate action. By redirecting philanthropic resources towards initiatives aligned with climate goals, the forum aims to amplify the overall impact by working with business and public sector capital.


“Public-private partnerships represent a powerful model for climate action,” says Jafar. He highlights the importance of the private sector’s innovation and operational efficiency in bringing about substantial changes, particularly in the UAE’s strategy, where public-private partnerships are integral to achieving net-zero objectives.

“We’ve seen an 11-fold increase in venture funding towards green tech in the Middle East over the past five years, with 144 new green tech start-ups enabled by $650 million in venture funding. This shows the massive potential of entrepreneurial initiatives in climate action,” he adds. 

The forum’s 22 action outcomes are geared towards supporting these efforts, focusing on innovation in critical areas such as water, agriculture, and food and strengthening ecosystems, particularly in the Global South. 

“By supporting and financing climate-focused entrepreneurs, we’re not just tackling climate issues but also debunking the myth that ‘green’ and profitable can’t go hand in hand,” he says.

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