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Amplifying Global Change: Insights From The Rockefeller Foundation’s Asia Regional Partners Meeting

The two-day first ever meeting was a reminder of why we do what we do. It was a celebration and anticipation of what we have done, and what is to come next.

It is unacceptable that in a world capable of so much, there are still so many with so little hope. That is why we are fighting to secure the fundamentals of human well-being – health, food, energy, jobs – so that they’re within reach for everyone, everywhere.

The past few years have been difficult for communities across the world. But 2022 already feels different. The world seems ready to make big bets on the future to ensure a more equitable return to ‘normal’ for all, and we are ready to reiterate our mission of identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions, ideas, and conversations. We will work to improve the well-being of people everywhere and solve global challenges with lasting impact.

Despite working from our separate spaces, we are joined by our common purpose and shared values of The Rockefeller Foundation. This is a journey we are grateful to be on with our partners across the Asia region.

From creating access to reliable energy to a billion people to being prepared for future pandemic shocks, the Foundation’s work in the Asia region strives to create a future that is equitable, inclusive, and just, and one that focuses on people and the planet.

Feeding Asia’s Potential

Asia has been area of strategic importance for the foundation for more than a century now and will continue to be a key geography. The Asia Regional Partners Meeting brought together 120+ attendees across geographies to press pause and immerse themselves in celebration of the work done and anticipation of what is to come next.

We shared an objective of visioning, learning, sharing, and connecting with our unique community across seven countries and more than forty-five partners. This diversity reflected not just the richness of our region but the power of our community to create more equitable, just societies in the Asia region. Hearing the experiences and achievements of our various partners was a reminder of how far we have come and how far we still need to go.

Creating Change through Collaborations

With key priorities of making energy accessible to all, accelerating an equitable pandemic response and elevate innovation initiatives, a collaborative approach of our partners will help create long-term impact in prioritizing people and the planet.

Ravi Venkatesan, Chair of The Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP) board and a Rockefeller Foundation trustee, shared his vision to demonstrate outcomes and accelerate investment in green energy transitions and renewable energy solutions with USD 10 billion of committed capital.

The changing landscape of philanthropy in Asia aims to spearhead change and innovation to solve the region’s largest challenges. Resonating with Dr. Ruth Shapiro and Ronnie C. Chan’s insights, we hope to develop a valuable collaboration with our partners as a key priority for the Asia region in 2022 and lean into the region’s strengths and collaborate to prioritize and resolve local challenges.

Recovering from the Pandemic

Our efforts from the Asia Regional Office will focus on putting the global south at the center of pandemic recovery programming. The Pandemic Prevention Institute is working closely with our multiple partners to target Asia’s largest challenges with the Covid-19 pandemic – scale testing and tracing of new Covid-19 variants and supporting essential health services. Using our convening power, we want to drive global consensus for a recovery, which is Asia oriented, through platforms like the G20, G7 and APEC Summit.

The collective efforts of ACCESS Health, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms, Mahidol University and other partners led to increased genomic surveillance, smart testing, data collection and sharing in India, expansion in bioinformatics capacity, regional scientific coordination, and training in Thailand, and pan-Asia support in global health learning collaboratives.

Redesigning by Breaking Silos

Leveraging potential of data, technology, science, and innovation, the foundation’s investments in technology has transformative power to address today’s challenges and harness change. Right from building foundational systems for catalyzing an open data ecosystem, creating smart use of data and responsible AI solutions, to leveraging data science and analytics to enhance genomic surveillance to track variant emergence, transmission using socio-demographic sampling, and reconstructing epidemiological history using phylogenetic analysis, and genealogy.

For the past one hundred years, we have been pushing the boundaries of what is possible in terms of tackling the world’s greatest challenges. However, now, we need to swap rigidity for reframing and reflection. The work we want to do will not get done with plans set in stone – agility is key – and we need to embrace failures as opportunities for innovation. The courage of our partners Swasti Health Catalysts, UNDP Regional Innovation Center-Bangkok, and The Asia Foundation sharing ‘things that did not work’ provided us with the wisdom and humility to take risks and learn how to be adaptable yet driven toward our common goal of an equitable and just future.

It is important to redesign the systems of today. Resilient systems will not be built in silos, and the writing is on the wall to leverage and harness our collective power to ensure a just, green, and resilient tomorrow. With collaborations to make systemic innovations in energy like Smart Power India by encouraging greater private sector investments for energy access and transition, and in cities through Global Resilient Cities Network to ensure holistic resilience and implement better measures post-pandemic.

The Way Forward

Our partners and changemakers share a collective vision for the Asia region and enable us to propel impact and chart our collaborative journey into the future through learning and unlearning. In our key priorities for 2022, we also wish to strengthen The Foundation as an equitable institution with a culture that is agile, diverse, values driven, and purposeful against our mission, with special focus on enhanced diversity, equity, and inclusion. We wish to further our impact as a platform for global change through our voice, partnerships, networks, convening capacity, and resources, including the Bellagio Center.

The meet outlined the vision for transformative change that is built by embracing transparency, creating an empowering ecosystem and goal-driven partnerships. For further reflections, detailed agenda, and more insights into the speakers, read more here

The Asia Regional Office convened its first-ever Asia Regional Partners Meeting, a two-day virtual meeting of current grantees and other partners. They welcomed over 120 attendees representing more than 40 organizations and over six countries. They shared RF’s priorities for 2022 and facilitated opportunities for the community of grantees to engage with each other and […]