Asia Pacific social entrepreneurs highlight climate change as global emergency

Photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova

A new report, the Climate Concern to Climate Action: The Role of Young Social Entrepreneurs, surveying over 1,000 young social entrepreneurs across 25 countries in Asia Pacific highlighted climate change as a global emergency, placing the spotlight on how this group is taking bold steps to address climate challenges.

Those surveyed were increasingly involved with developing climate solutions and working with organizations that were taking action to minimize the negative environmental impact of their operations.

The report found that 85 percent of young social entrepreneurs faced challenges in advancing climate action. Among this group, access to adequate financial resources emerged as the biggest obstacle to advancing climate action, with 68 percent of respondents identifying it as a challenge.

A lack of connection to relevant partners and absence of education and training were listed as the second and third biggest obstacles according to 55 percent and 46 percent of respondents, respectively.

Peter Babej, Chief Executive Officer, Citi Asia Pacific said, “We are working with clients and other partners across Citi’s global network to help close gaps highlighted in this report and build a sustainable future.

“Social entrepreneurs play a critical role in this effort, and we are committed to supporting this inspirational group in developing innovative sustainable solutions.”

In 2020 and 2021, Citi financed and facilitated $222 billion in sustainable finance activity. Citi also committed $1 trillion in sustainable finance by 2030, including $500 billion for environmental finance and $500 billion for social finance.

The topography of the Asia Pacific region makes it more vulnerable to climate change risks than any other region in the world, posing a threat to the sustainable futures of more than 660 million youth in the region, who account for over 60 percent of the global youth population.

A majority (84 percent) of the young social entrepreneurs surveyed as part of the study believed that climate change was a global emergency, with 74 percent expecting climate change impact to negatively affect their organizations.

Despite the challenges, young social entrepreneurs remain resilient and engaged in climate action. Of these young respondents, 66 percent actively engage in delivering climate-action-focused products and services, while 80 percent want to further climate action through their organizations by developing stronger research, designing climate-smart solutions, leading advocacy on climate action, and scaling up existing climate initiatives.

“Entrepreneurship offers a path for youth to shape and lead local solutions that strengthen community resilience to climate change,” said Kanni Wignaraja, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific at UNDP.

“Many young people are seeking this approach to turn their climate fear into climate action, despite the negative impacts of climate change on their organizations and barriers within the entrepreneurship ecosystem.”

The report was commissioned by Youth Co:Lab, an initiative co-led by Citi Foundation and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It sought to understand the role that young social entrepreneurs in the Asia Pacific region can play in tackling the climate emergency and the support they need to amplify the impact of climate actions and solutions.

The report also highlighted that greater engagement with national partners, access to financial resources, climate change-related capacity-building initiatives, establishing multi-stakeholder dialogue platforms, and generating evidence-based research could better support young social entrepreneurs to accelerate climate action.