【Newsletter】Innovative ideas drive effective philanthropy

    3 Jul 2020

     

    In a rapidly changing world, with new technologies and globalisation affecting the way we live and work, philanthropic organisations have had to think outside of the box to ensure they are effective.

    At the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network's Virtual Conference this year, LUI Che Woo Prize Governor Dr Moses Cheng joined Donald Kanak of Prudence Foundation and Lindsay Louie of Hewlett Foundation to discuss and share views on how to catalyse philanthropy through innovative approaches and creative thinking.

    The conference is now in its eighth year and is the largest gathering of the social investment community in Asia. It was the first time the LUI Prize has participated in the event, which was attended by about 7,500 delegates. It offered the opportunity for Dr Cheng to exchange ideas with peers and convey the message of the prize to an international audience.

    It was also a chance to demonstrate that even during the Covid-19 lockdown, the LUI Prize continues to actively promote its values and to push its creative approach to achieving its goals.

    “That (advancing world civilisation by means of a prize) to me is an innovative way of approaching philanthropy work. A lot of prizes recognise scientific breakthrough and development. We are recognising the effort to create a better world and to develop the civilisation of the world,” Dr Cheng said, in describing why the prize is unique.

    LUI Prize General Manager Yvonne Lai echoes Dr Cheng in explaining that the creative thought process at LUI Prize starts with pinpointing the desired outcome and then identifying those who are working hard to achieve that.

    “We focus on how to reach the ultimate goal of building a better world for all and what we want for a better world,” she said, adding that this differs from just rewarding those who are tackling the issues. "The work of the laureates in the three categories in the first four years of the prize reflects this ethos,” added Lai.

    Both Dr Cheng and Lai point to the efforts of Landesa, the 2017 Welfare Betterment Prize laureate.

    Bringing hope to communities


    Landesa has helped secure land rights for more than 180 million families.

     “When they have land rights, not only does it alleviate poverty, but also brings hope to help them feel positive. This is what drives them to work hard and learn from failure. We need to bring hope to the community and the people and let them feel the future holds opportunity and hope for them.”

    LUI Che Woo Prize Governor Dr Moses Cheng

    Since its founding, Landesa has partnered with governments, communities and other stakeholders in more than 50 countries to advance pro-poor, gender-sensitive land rights reforms using law and policy tools. These reforms have helped alleviate poverty, reduce hunger and ease conflict over land for more than 180 million families.

    When farmers have long-term secure rights to their land, they invest in the land to improve their harvests and their lives. They nurture the soil, and they protect their water supply. Land rights have connected their destiny with the health of their land and forests. This not only bolsters food security, it lifts incomes, and it promotes economic growth and social stability, as well as playing a part in tackling climate change.

    “When they have land rights, not only does it alleviate poverty, but also brings hope to help them feel positive. This is what drives them to work hard and learn from failure. We need to bring hope to the community and the people and let them feel the future holds opportunity and hope for them,” Dr Cheng said, highlighting another way Landesa is helping poor rural communities.

    Lai further points out that Landesa is a good example to demonstrate that in an increasingly sophisticated world, issues are complex as there are more stakeholders than ever. Tackling these themes will require innovation, not just in the sense of technology-based solutions, but also more flexible collaboration between different entities.

    Another way that the prize is seeking to think outside of the box to support its laureates in their work is through this kind of cross-fertilisation of ideas and areas of expertise.

    Cross fertilisation of ideas


    Xie Zhen-hua discusses China's efforts in tackling climate change during a press conference at the United Nations after the opening ceremony of the high-level event for the signature of the Paris Agreement.

    One proud achievement has been the decision between Xie Zhen-hua, one of China’s leading climate change specialists and a key architect of the Paris Climate Change Accord and The Nature Conservancy to collaborate to study nature-based conservation.

    In 2019, the United Nations Climate Action Summit identified Nature-Based Solutions (NbS) as one of nine action tracks, with China and New Zealand invited to take the lead. Although such solutions are believed to be highly effective, there is still a lack of systematic research in the area.

    On returning to China, Xie and his team started building the NbS cooperation platform, realising that the promotion of such solutions needs cross-disciplinary exchanges. The Nature Conservancy has donated US$250,000 from its prize money to support the platform’s work and has become a strategic partner.

    The platform aims to combat climate change with nature-based solutions. Through open cooperation and promoting cross-border dialogues, integrating knowledge, and stimulating innovative research, the platform hopes to build a bridge between the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15) and the United Nations Climate Conference (COP26), held in 2021, and jointly promote the Sustainable Development Goals.

    Ongoing engagement


    Yvonne Lai (second on left) visits The Nature Conservancy Headquarters in Washington D.C.

    “We are more than happy to support one laureate and what they do, but we notice that when they join together and help each other out the benefits can be multi-fold.”

    LUI Che Woo Prize General Manager Yvonne Lai 

    It’s these kinds of collaborative efforts between its laureates and the wider community that the LUI Prize is keen to facilitate.

    “We are more than happy to support one laureate and what they do, but we notice that when they join together and help each other out the benefits can be multi-fold,” Lai said. “It’s a very powerful tool to connect those dots and use the expertise to tackle complex issues.”

    Although the prize donation takes place just once a year, the work of the prize organisation is ongoing as it seeks to advance world civilisation with like-minded people.

    To that end, the prize is developing an academy, which will have a dual purpose of helping to foster collaboration by pooling resources, but also to institutionalise the prize to ensure that its work continues through the generations.

    The academy will have its own secretariat and management and eventually its own funding sources. Institutionalising the prize will also help those who are seeking to promote the award around the world, through organising events and symposiums to support the shared philosophy.

    “Ultimately with hope we will have a better future. Instead of fighting each other, we turn into collaborative effort to build a more harmonious world,” Dr Cheng said.

     


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