Advancing Human Security and Community Resilience

Fireside Chat with Lawrence Wong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Republic of Singapore

15 November 2021

Singapore as a hub for philanthropy in Asia

Given that Singapore has a growing base of successful entrepreneurs, institutions, and family offices, and many are keen to leave behind a legacy beyond wealth accumulation, there is potential to do more. There is opportunity for Singapore to be a hub for philanthropy where businesses, individuals, family offices can use Singapore as a base to contribute meaningful and impactful solutions toward the pressing issues around the region. Providing such opportunities in Singapore with environmental, social, and governance characteristics that align with their values will help drive initiatives to give back. The government will also do its part to support more of these flows, and is reviewing the tax incentive schemes to see how we can encourage family offices to not only give within Singapore, but to give overseas as well.

Building a vibrant philanthropic ecosystem

Fostering a mindset of collective philanthropic responsibility is crucial for social development. For an economy to be strong, there is a need for a thriving market system, but taking market logic to its extreme, where it is every person for themselves, it is not the way to organise society or build a nation. Governments will step in to calibrate for social issues, such as income inequalities, but a system entirely run by state administration could lead to a loss of that sense of human touch and compassion. Hence, a vibrant ecosystem of community and philanthropic groups, coupled with active government interventions, will help nurture a greater sense of community, ownership, and responsibility to build a fairer and more inclusive society, and strengthen our social compact.

Encouraging innovative financing

A greater focus on transition activities and transition finance will be needed to accelerate the green transition in Asia, a battleground for climate change. Countries in the region have great potential for carbon mitigation and for renewable energy projects, though financing remains an issue. One way to bridge this gap is through blended finance, where concessionary capital can come from multilateral development banks and philanthropists. This can then catalyse private capital to scale up existing efforts. Aside from climate change, investments in public health and human capital are also critical. There is much scope in Asia, particularly in Singapore, for more innovative financing, such as public-private partnerships in the form of blended finance.