How to give is focus of philanthropy forum

Updated: 2014-11-28 13:20

By Zhang Yue in Beijing(China Daily USA)

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More than 10 experts, foundation leaders and businesspeople from the United States gathered in Beijing on Tuesday for the 2014 China Philanthropy Forum.

As they exchanged ideas on who philanthropy could work for more wisely to make the world a better place for future generations, many of them expressed willingness to cooperate with companies, educational institutions and grassroots non-governmental organizations in China.

"Philanthropy is a very exciting area. It helps to make the society we are living in become more and more connected, and it requires constant innovation," said Robert Rosen, director of Philanthropic Partnerships at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "Our foundation has long been working on solving health and sanitary problems in China, such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, through working together with the Chinese government. We see China has a strong potential in philanthropy innovation and we also want to participate in it."

Rosen said that China has gone through a major transformation in philanthropy in recent years, and the innovation that China is about to undergo could have a good impact in the international arena.

Tracy Pack Marker, executive vice-president of The Philanthropy Workshop, said she has noticed that the philanthropy arena has remained robust in recent years. She said the workshop is now exploring more cooperation opportunities with educational institutions in China, such as China Philanthropy Research Institute at Beijing Normal University.

"One important thing is we tend to guide our workshop participants as to how to give money in the right way, how to make a better contribution with what you are able to give," she said. "In the past 20 years, we have received participants from China, and the number has increased in recent years."

D. Wayne Silby, founding chair of the Calvert Foundation, said for 12 years he has been investing in foundations to protect China's environment.

"Twelve years ago environment protection did not catch big attention in China," he recalled. "Now it certainly has, and we have benefited greatly from this investment. We are now investing in some of the clean energy social entrepreneurs in Qinghai province and in Tibet Autonomous Region."

Lu Mai, Secretary General of China Development Research Foundation, said inequality has become a very pressing issue for both China and the rest of the world. He said that according to a recent survey, about 210, 000 people have a net worth of more than $30 trillion.

"This means that 0.004 percent of the world population has 13 percent of the wealth," he said. "Our foundation has been working to improve living and education for children in poverty-stricken areas in rural China, and we have received a lot of help from companies, organizations and foundations overseas. We hope such kind of help and cooperation will continue."

The one-day forum was concluded by a keynote speech by Albert Gore, former vice-president of the United States, as well as the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winner. In his speech, he expressed his belief in the future of clean energy development and the positive effect that this transformation will bring globally.

He also said the cost of using solar energy in China may fall below that of coal in the future, maybe in one or two years.

"In a capital market, if technology could serve as a cost-effective alternative, it will bring quite a promising market," Gore said. "This would bring the price to very close between solar energy and electricity during the second quarter of this year."

Gore also mentioned that he has just had his fourth granddaughter born three days ago. When talking about the future exchange in younger generations between China and the US, he said it is utterly important to be brave enough to "do the right thing" together.

This is the third year that the China Philanthropy Forum has been held. The event was co-hosted by the China Association for International Friendly Contact and Caijing Magazine in China. In 2013, former US President Bill Clinton made remarks focused on philanthropy development and issues of inequality.