• Philanthropic capital can act as a catalyst for change, innovation, and sustainable development within the trade industry

Abu Dhabi, UAE – The UAE Ministry of Economy, in collaboration with Crescent Enterprises, hosted a roundtable discussion under the theme of ‘Fostering Resilience and Inclusivity: The Role of Strategic Philanthropy in Global Trade that took place on Thursday, 27th February, at The World Trade Organization’s 13th Ministerial Conference, in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

The roundtable explored the role of strategic philanthropy in streamlining trade processes, increasing impact and inclusivity, as well as building resilience across the global trade ecosystem, while focusing on engaging the Global South and less developed countries and leveraging philanthropic capital for advocacy and mitigation. The discussion emphasised the need for more significant involvement of strategic philanthropy in the forthcoming stage of international work on trade policy and governance.

Addressing the leading experts from philanthropic organisations, trade bodies, government entities, civil society and the private sector, H.E. Juma Al Kait, Assistant Undersecretary for International Trade Affairs at the Ministry of Economy, gave the opening remarks and highlighted the vital role governments can play in incorporating the philanthropy sector into trade discussions to create a more equitable and sustainable trade ecosystem.

H.E. Juma Al Kait, Assistant Undersecretary for International Trade Affairs at the Ministry of Economy said: “For decades, there has been a global consensus that ‘trade, not aid’ was the best route to development; that simply opening up an economy for trade and investment was sufficient to boost growth. However, it’s clear the relationship between aid and trade is more complex and often complementary. Targeted philanthropy can help support more localized capacity building that recognizes individual market needs rather better than the blunt instrument of immediate market access. As we promote trade as a lever of opportunity, it’s vital the philanthropy sector is included in the conversation to ensure we’re not simply entrenching existing inequalities.”

Tushar Singhvi, Deputy CEO of Crescent Enterprises, a UAE-headquartered multinational diversified business, emphasised the importance of cross-sector cooperation to address the ever-growing inequity, environmental degradation, and lack of inclusivity, by engaging strategic philanthropy in global trade dialogues:

“As global industries undergo paradigm shifts, it is a collective approach that will help us navigate the increasingly complex challenges and opportunities in a changing world.  Our discussion today reflects a shared commitment to creating meaningful change that will help us create a more balanced international trade ecosystem.

The UAE’s dedication to fostering dialogue is an inspirational model of how collaboration can enable us to identify transformative and timely solutions. It is by combining cross-industry expertise and perspectives that we will be able to enhance the role of strategic philanthropy in global trade, better mitigate potential risks and help pave the way to a more resilient, sustainable and inclusive future.”

Philanthropy presents enormous potential for transformative impact, underscored by contributions exceeding USD 811 billion globally from foundations and individuals in 2022. This occurs against a backdrop of increasing wealth levels, now totalling USD 41.8 trillion among Ultra-High Net Worth individuals as of mid-2022. This confluence of factors signals a promising opportunity to channel private wealth into development initiatives more effectively and on a larger scale.

The roundtable participants discussed the current global challenges impacting trade and the potential of philanthropy to mitigate these effects through various integration, such as:

  • Innovative financing and risk-taking in trade, including seed funding and de-risking investments, investing in research, as well as promoting renewable energy and waste reduction initiatives
  • Boosting inclusivity by ensuring marginalized communities and local producers, especially in the Global South/Global Majority, are included, supported and empowered
  • Promoting sustainable practices and influencing global norms and standards through advocacy and policy change promoting fair and ethical trade practices
  • Enhancing engagement with the World Trade Organization (WTO) and designing collaborative strategies for deeper involvement of philanthropy in future discussions

Discussion leaders leveraged cross-industry learning and shared best practices to identify actionable plans and way forward, focusing on sustainable development and inclusivity. The roundtable will be followed by a distribution of a summary report to all participants and stakeholders, outlining the discussion points, key takeaways, and proposed action items for integrating strategic philanthropy in trade discussions.

The session was moderated by Naila Farouky, Executive Director, Arab Foundation Forum and attended by 20 experts in their respective fields from around the world, representing: Government of Abu Dhabi, Government of Finland, World Trade Organization (WTO); World Economic Forum (WEF), Google; Bain and Company; Crescent Enterprises, Whiteshield; Alembicis, LLC; COSV; Third World Network; Future Scenarios and Foresight; International Diplomatic Supplies (IDS) & Intagulf FZCO;  International Islamic Trade and Finance Corporation & Islamic Development Bank (ISDB); ClimateWorks Foundation; International Medical Corps; Aspen Institute; Basmeh and Zeitooneh.

The roundtable discussion centred on the insights from a co-published whitepaper by the Ministry of Economy and Crescent Enterprises, also titled ‘Fostering Resilience and Inclusivity: The Role of Strategic Philanthropy in Global Trade’.  

The whitepaper can be found here.

Formed in 1995, the World Trade Organization is the international body that supervises the rules of international trade. Its biannual Ministerial Conference is considered its topmost decision-making forum, bringing together ministers and senior officials from all member states with the aim of reviewing and updating rules that shape the global trading system.

About Crescent Enterprises

Crescent Enterprises is a leading multinational company, growing diversified global businesses that are sustainable, scalable, and profitable.  Headquartered in the United Arab Emirates, with business operations in 15 countries, it operates under four enterprise platforms:

  • CE-Operates, an operating business platform, focusing on smart infrastructure as the main driver of economic development and growth.
  • CE-Invests, a strategic investment platform investing in late-stage businesses and private equity funds.
  • CE-Ventures, a corporate venture capital platform targeting early-stage technology-enabled high-growth businesses and venture capital funds globally.
  • CE-Creates, an internal business incubator, building start-ups that are socially and environmentally conscious.

Crescent Enterprises operates with a value system and culture that embraces corporate governance, inclusive growth, and responsible business practices.