Today Convergence launched the Asia Climate Solutions (ACS) Design Grant on the sidelines of the 8th Singapore-Australia Annual Leaders’ Meeting, held in Singapore, and under the auspices of the Singapore-Australia Green Economy Agreement.
The ACS Design Grant will award grants for the design and launch of innovative blended finance solutions that mobilise private capital to sectors critical for climate transition and resilience in developing markets in Asia. Another key objective of the ACS Design Grant is to introduce family offices and foundations to the practice of using their philanthropic capital catalytically.
The S$5 million (USD 3.7m) ACS Design Grant has secured its first round of funding commitments from the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, The Olayan Group, and UBS Optimus Foundation, with ambitions to grow the grant funding program beyond S$5 million.
Asia is a critical geography in the fight against climate change. The region accounted for around half of global carbon emissions in 2020, with its reliance on coal contributing significantly to total emissions (48 per cent of energy consumption in 2020). At the same time, it’s one of the regions most exposed to physical climate risk, due to its dense coastal populations and reliance on natural resources. Finally, there is an urgent need for investments in nature-based solutions (NbS) as the escalating loss of biodiversity in the region is expected to have a devastating effect on economies, risking as much as 63 per cent, or $19 trillion, of Asia-Pacific’s GDP.
The ACS Design Grant will target critical climate mitigation and adaptation sectors in Asia including NbS, clean energy transition, and sustainable cities and infrastructure. It will provide feasibility study (USD 50,000 to 200,000) and proof of concept (USD 200,000 to 400,000) grants for innovative solutions using blended capital structures to crowd-in more climate-smart investment in the region.
One key factor limiting climate investments is the lack of high-impact, investable solutions. The ACS Design Grant will deliver the kind of solutions the market is seeking by coming in at a critical juncture and supporting their design and launch.
Applications to the ACS Design Grant are now open. To apply, you can follow the instructions on the Convergence website and submit the concept note before July 16th, 2023.
“We are thrilled to be launching this new Window in Asia, with such an impressive line-up of committed anchor funders,” says Joan Larrea, CEO at Convergence. “Asia has the building blocks for hosting a strong blended finance ecosystem, including local funders and investors, and well-developed capital markets. This Window has the potential to really accelerate the market by identifying key players and generating new investable blended climate finance transactions in the region.”
Convergence has over seven years of experience managing several Design Funding Windows that have delivered strong results. To date, through its Design Funding program, Convergence has supported 36 solutions and awarded $11 million in design and proof of concept funding. These solutions have already catalyzed over $1.9 billion in additional capital for critical development sectors globally.
“An effective climate transition will require close partnership among public, private and philanthropic actors. With appropriate de-risking mechanisms and the apportionment of risks across these actors, blended finance can reduce the cost of capital and spur transition investments. The ACS Design Grant, co-developed by Convergence and the Monetary Authority of Singapore, serves as a springboard for innovative blended finance solutions to be developed and scaled, and it has been heartening to see strong support from public and philanthropic partners,” said Gillian Tan, Chief Sustainability Officer and Assistant Managing Director (Development and International) of the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
“DFAT has worked closely with Convergence for several years to generate a pipeline of blended finance investments in the region and we are truly excited with this opportunity to join forces with Singapore to develop scale and opportunity for public and private investors in Asia looking to tackle climate change,” said Kristin Tilley, Australian Ambassador for Climate Change Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
“At UBS Optimus Foundation, the blended finance approach is core to how we use philanthropic funds to attract public and commercial capital to scale the work of social and environmental initiatives on the ground. We are delighted to contribute to the Asia Climate Solutions Design Grant which is a great example of how we deploy blended finance and our focus on nature-based solutions,” said Maya Ziswiler, CEO of UBS Optimus Foundation.
“The Olayan Group has long been committed to philanthropy and good corporate citizenship in the communities where we do business. As a multinational enterprise, we know that climate change knows no boundaries. We have worked to offset our own carbon footprint around the world, including in Singapore. It’s also why The Olayan Group is proud to support the ACS Design Grant. We hope the grants will incubate ideas and companies, increasing climate resiliency in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond,” said Sung Chul Whang, General Counsel, Asia, of The Olayan Group.
Convergence is the global network for blended finance. On top of market acceleration through its Design Funding program, Convergence generates blended finance data, intelligence, and deal flow to increase private sector investment in developing countries. Convergence’s global membership includes over 160 public, private, and philanthropic investors as well as sponsors of transactions and funds.
Convergence’s Design Funding Program operates as a market acceleration tool providing early-stage capital to support blended finance solutions in frontier markets and nascent sectors to accelerate the number of investible transactions in market targeting SDGs.
About the Monetary Authority of Singapore
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is Singapore’s central bank and integrated financial regulator. As a central bank, MAS promotes sustained, non-inflationary economic growth through the conduct of monetary policy and close macroeconomic surveillance and analysis. As an integrated financial supervisor, MAS fosters a sound financial services sector through its prudential oversight of all financial institutions in Singapore and financial market infrastructures. It is responsible for well-functioning financial markets, sound conduct, and investor education. MAS also works with the financial industry to promote Singapore as a dynamic international financial centre.
MAS launched its Finance for Net Zero Action Plan in April to catalyse Asia’s net zero transition, expanding its focus from pure green finance to include transition finance. It covers outcomes in data, definitions & disclosures, a climate resilient financial sector and credible transition plans for FIs. MAS will continue to grow and scale Green FinTech solutions and develop the skills and capabilities for Singaporeans and our financial sector.
About the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade promotes and protects Australia’s international interests to support our security and prosperity. We work with international partners and other countries to tackle global challenges, increase trade and investment opportunities, protect international rules, keep our region stable and help Australians overseas.
About UBS Optimus Foundation
UBS Optimus Foundation is an independent philanthropy associated with a global wealth manager, pioneering innovative ways to tackle some of the world’s most pressing social- and environmental problems. It is a leader in social finance, testing and proving new tools in support of education, health, the environment, and child protection. It applies an investment-based philosophy and specialises in scalable, evidence-based approaches like outcomes-based finance and blended finance. UBS Optimus Foundation operates in a worldwide network of partners and philanthropists who seek to drive systemic change on a global scale.
About Olayan Group
The Olayan Group is a multinational enterprise with an actively managed portfolio of global investments. The Group has international offices in Vaduz, New York, London, Luxembourg, Athens, Riyadh and Singapore. The Group’s in-house professionals manage a multi-billion-dollar investment portfolio.