Advancing Human Security and Community Resilience

Opening Remarks by Dilhan Pillay Sandrasegara, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Temasek Holdings

15 November 2021

Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies of Singapore

Mr Benny Lim, Chairman of Temasek Foundation

Mr Ng Boon Heong, CEO of Temasek Foundation

Wow, it is good to be back on a conference where I see so many people, and better still when I don’t have to wear a tie.

Ladies and gentlemen, including those of you joining us online from all over the world, good morning, good afternoon and good evening and welcome to the inaugural Philanthropy Asia Summit.

These past 2 years have been unlike any other we have experienced in decades and life-changing on many fronts.

COVID-19 has impacted humanity on all counts. Over five million lives lost and over 114 million jobs lost or displaced.

Governments, companies and individuals, and indeed, Healthcare systems around the world continue to battle this new virus.

We truly owe a debt of thanks to the millions of health care workers and volunteers, NGOs, companies and philanthropic organisations who have stepped up to help those who are severely impacted by the pandemic; and the scientists who persevered to create treatments and vaccines. Together, we have saved billions more lives.

Science has become a crucial weapon against the disease. Effective vaccines were developed in record time, many as a result of research collaboration between biotech companies. And while the vaccine rates around the world have varied, progress has perhaps been faster than many of us thought possible just six or seven months ago.

But there is still much more to do – especially as we see the unevenness of vaccination rates between developed countries and less developed countries. This will have an impact on global resilience as we brave the pandemic – in a globalised, highly connected world, no one is safe until everyone is safe.

And yet, we have to overlay this enormous toll with the added burden created by the need to address climate change and accelerate our collective response to it. We are witnesses to the effects of climate change as seen by the recent severe climate-driven events, such as droughts, extreme floods and heatwaves.

Governments, businesses and communities face a daunting task to keep our temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees over pre-industrial levels – the minimum we need to avoid life-changing degradation to our planet.

These multiple challenges are affecting our social resilience and may be cause for pessimism. But, together, we can make a difference. This can be, and must be, a decade of collaboration between governments, businesses, investors, research institutions, philanthropic organisations, NGOs and the community. All of us have a part to play in this.

Together, we can leverage our resources and collective strengths to contribute towards initiatives that combat climate change and build stronger social cohesion as we tackle these big challenges.

Now this opens a meaningful role for philanthropic organisations. Collaboration requires ‘connecting the dots’, to rally the like-minded to come together to catalyse a larger force for good.

This is why the Philanthropy Asia Summit was conceived. Its purpose is to encourage the catalysing of partnerships that can drive greater impact for the common good.

Through collaboration and action, we can seed and support solutions that can solve some of the biggest challenges facing our world today. So, amid all the challenges, why am I optimistic about this?

Because COVID-19 has showed us how, when humanity really needs to tackle a challenge, it can muster the indomitable human spirit to do so. So, we must do it again, and again, and again.

I do actually have real hope that we can do our part to tackle climate change, and other big global challenges: food security, clean drinking water, and others. Actions will happen because collaboration among partners will catalyse impact. Indeed, collaboration will multiply impact.

At Temasek, we see ourselves as a provider of catalytic capital.
We deploy financial capital to stimulate innovation and growth through our many investments;
we develop human capital to enhance human potential including uplifting capabilities in people through skilling, reskilling and upskilling;
we enable natural capital by investing in frontier, deep-tech and climate aligned opportunities in areas such as food, water, waste, energy, materials, clean transportation and the built environment, that will repair, preserve and protect our natural environment and contribute to the abatement of carbon emissions;
and we seed social capital to transform lives for a more inclusive and resilient world.

But to do so effectively, we recognise the need for us to be a networked organisation. This requires us to forge partnerships and collaborate with others to augment the resources we have with those who share our desire to contribute to building a better world.

We believe that philanthropic organisations have the same opportunity with their resources and reach to be catalytic capital.

Our stewardship responsibility at Temasek fostered our early thinking in the philanthropic space. Since 2003, we have set aside a portion of our returns to be shared with the wider community.

Temasek Trust and those it supports, including Temasek Foundation and others, help to create and strengthen the nexus between Temasek the investment company, and our wider community.

This is because, in everything we do with our capital, we see our capital as a force for good. While we aspire to do well, we are also determined to do right and do good in all that we do.

Today’s programme has a focus on Calls to Action anchored on 3 areas:

  1. Climate Action and Sustainable Communities
  2. Inclusive Education and
  3. Pandemic Security.
All of these are very crucial issues for us in the decade and beyond.

As we embark on this new decade of collaboration, we can form partnerships that use our collective resources and capabilities to support our combined actions. Creating new models of philanthropy that can multiply impact – Impact for Climate and Impact for Communities – helping to solve real world challenges.

This can be the best legacy of the initiatives we are launching today – to inspire people to think about what they can do. Whether large or small, hopefully together, we can all make the world a better place, with humanity at the centre of all that we do.

Thank you and I wish you a fulfilling and meaningful Summit.