The 2018 AVPN Conference, Singapore, 4-7 June 2018

Andrew Milner

The social and environmental problems we’re facing will require far more resources than we have so far put into them. As a rough indicator, estimates of money to meet the Sustainable Development Goals are eye-watering. If we are to come close, we will need to work together and we will need to draw on new means of resourcing. This was really the premise of the 2018 AVPN conference and its twin themes of collaboration and impact. 

Naina Batra, Chairperson and CEO at AVPN.

It’s always big, as one participant remarked, but this year’s gathering in Singapore between 4 and 7 June was bigger than ever, with a shade over a thousand participants. This is testament both to the urgency of the questions at issue and the network’s drawing power, reflected not only in its 493 members from 32 countries, but also in the spread of the organisations present: social venture funds, family offices, businesses, intermediaries of all shapes and sizes, social purpose organisations (the preferred nomenclature in the region for NPOs), even venture capital firms who specialise in the impact investment field – oh, and don’t forget foundations.

In her opening remarks, AVPN CEO Naina Batra stressed that, if we are to come close to finding the resources needed, all the different forms of social finance participants embraced have roles to play along what the network is calling the continuum of capital. A report exploring this idea was released just prior to the conference. The featured themes of collaboration and impact ran across the issue areas discussed, most of them of special importance in the Asian region: climate change, education, healthcare, sustainable livelihoods and gender empowerment. ‘Collaboration is hard work, but we must do it,’ affirmed Singapore’s Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Grace Fu, in her keynote address and she urged participants to ‘be bold in imagining a better future.’

 
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Charles Keidan