Since 2016, the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) – one of the three major Chinese foreign affairs organization – has been organizing the World Philanthropy Forum. In 2017 it gathered over 600 participants and featured the heads of several major international NGOs and foundations.
- What is the World Philanthropy Forum and what is your objective with this year’s edition?
The World Philanthropy Forum is jointly held by Tsinghua University, together with the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. It aims to promote the development of philanthropy and social work to the world, promote world peace, stable world development and contribute to jointly building a community of common destiny for all mankind.
It sticks to the development spirit of dependability and sustainability, and gradually forms multi-field, multi-functional and multi-layered partnership and a mechanism of participation and cooperation.
The Forum pays attention to the systematic integration among disciplines, theories, practice, talents and actions, and promotes new integrated development patterns of social work and philanthropy based on generating localized knowledge and exchanges with international experience.
The 1st and 2nd World Philanthropy Forum were held in 2016 and 2017, respectively, in Beijing, and received messages of support from UN Secretary Generals Ban Ki-moon and António Guterres and persons in charge of internationally well-known non-governmental organizations such as Bill Gates.
We have successively released the World Philanthropy Declaration and World Philanthropy Forum Declaration of Friendship, and others diverse cooperation mechanisms
It will be held on a regular basis and is committed to promoting the practices, academic exchange, policy propositions and experience sharing. It aims to further unite Chinese and international philanthropic organizations, further understand sustainable development goals through participation, dialogue or private exchanges, promote cooperation as well as work together to build a community of common destiny for all mankind for sustainable development.
- While this Forum is based in China, you’re making a concerted effort to include international narratives and voices in your program. Why is China interested in promoting philanthropy nationally and internationally?
Up to now, a legal and regulatory system based on the Charity Law of the People’s Republic of China, Law of the People’s Republic of China on Donations for Public Welfare, Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Red Cross Society, Regulations on Foundation Management as well as their supporting policies has been established. In particular, the Charity Law of the People’s Republic of China adopted by the Fourth Session of the 12th National People’s Congress on March 16, 2016, is a valuable and concrete example of the development experience of modern philanthropy in China, indicating a new ecology and a new era for Chinese philanthropy.
The development of Chinese philanthropy benefits both the Chinese people and many other countries and their peoples. The Indonesian tsunami in 2014, the great earthquake in Nepal in 2015, the earthquake in Ecuador in 2016: all are examples of horrible natural disasters that received aid from Chinese charitable organizations and private rescue teams, guided by the international humanitarian spirit. They carried out cross-border emergency rescues, transfers and resettlements, as well as recovery and reconstruction in joint effort with the United Nations and relevant international organizations. In addition, as the practitioner of philanthropy in the world’s largest developing country, more and more Chinese charitable organizations have begun to go abroad, actively fulfilling their social responsibilities, and participating in international social services.
We should promote the mutual understanding, resource sharing, intellectual support, and further cooperation between Chinese and foreign charities. Moreover, we should focus on and solve domestic problems, while engaging in international social services together with international partners, so as to promote realization of UN sustainable development goals. We look forward to having more international partners engaged in the World Philanthropy Forum to work together for human well-being.
- How is the philanthropic sector developing in China and are there some trends that are similar or different to characteristics in other countries or regions?
China’s philanthropy is rooted in the traditional Chinese cultures that advocate the world’s great harmony and sense of compassion. Its forms vary in different eras and different places, such as the Rescue Department in the Western Zhou Dynasty, Confucian benevolence, reward for good deeds of Buddhism, socialist core values and others. As present, China’s philanthropy is entering an age of informatization and the rule of law.
China’s philanthropy features the collectivism of Eastern civilizations. With the deepening reform and opening-up practices in China, the Chinese public are more focusing on life and self-confidence, as well as the social values of individuals and participations in social charity services or activities. In addition, China is a developing country, and in the development process, has gained many lessons worth sharing with other developing countries.
- What are the main challenges to philanthropy in China?
In spite of the rapid development of China’s philanthropy and its remarkable achievements, there are some hidden threats or problems, including: The convergence of various charity policies needs to be further improved; Generally there is a lack of philanthropy talents and an education system has not been established, with the degree of specialization and internationalization to be improved; In the process of integration between traditional philanthropic culture and behavior with market mechanisms, ethical conflicts and benefit temptation and even economic fraud occur from time to time. The distribution of philanthropic resources is also uneven with economic development, and the sustainability and stability of resource supply need to be consolidated. Moreover, the total amount of philanthropic resources is still far behind that of the developed countries in Europe and America; The management idea and tools for philanthropic projects also need to be systematized and popularized.
- At the last WPF edition there were discussions about the Belt and Road initiative and how philanthropic investments should accompany public and private investments as well. Is the Chinese philanthropic sector becoming an increasingly international player? Is there a trend to make private social investments outside China?
The last forum is themed “Collaboration”. We have also noticed that based on relevant data, countries along the “Belt and Road” take up only 30% of the world’s economic magnitude in spite of a 60% ratio in the world population. After deducting international investment contributions and returns, each two people in these countries have less than one share of economic magnitude. Most places that lack economic support need to be concerned by charities and their actions.
On the one hand, China is still a developing country, with a national income per capita of about USD 8,000 in 2016, ranking 70 plus in the world. There are still many problems to be solved in China. On the other hand, some enterprises (some operating in high debt) or entrepreneurs in China make overseas investments and have carried out many charitable projects overseas. But there are improvements to be made in such aspects as participation of charities, comprehensive project management, and comprehensive social benefits. It is expected by the World Philanthropy Forum that the concept of improving the value of charitable resources put in by each company will be in line with human interests and social benefits. We pay attention to and support the dialogue and cooperation between enterprises and charities. For this reason, we have established a “global and local collaboration network of Chinese and foreign corporate social responsibilities” that is expected to help companies better fulfill their social responsibilities when making investments.
- Do you think the philanthropic sector is collaborative in China and how is the philanthropy infrastructure developing in the country?
It involves the construction of an ecosystem. The ecological system of Chinese charities is still not perfect, which is related to China’s economic development stage and its uneven distribution. On the whole, Chinese philanthropy has not yet established an ecosystem that separates funds from project implementation appropriately. Resource supply, talent training, ability support, diversified third-party evaluation and others are under constant improvement.
Therefore, Chinese charities especially need to cooperate with each other in a homogenous manner. It means that each one is similar to each other but is very small; Only by uniting together, can they become large enough to do things together. As for such collaboration, there is competition among cooperators, which requires greater wisdom, patience and an open mind. In addition, differentiated collaboration should be promoted constantly.
- How is your organization, and others, supporting the development of philanthropy in China?
“The World Charity Forum” is committed to practice promotion, academic exchange, talent training, policy propositions and experience sharing. We will fully play to the advantages of forum organizers, give priority to talent training and experience sharing, appropriately promote academic exchanges, constantly strengthen the collaborative network and promote practical changes in a timely manner.
In China, there are many different institutions and people who are also promoting the development of philanthropy in China in different methods at different levels. It is also necessary to cooperate effectively with each other.
- The #LiftUpPhilanthropy campaign is trying to raise the awareness of funders on the importance of investing in the infrastructure to boost their collective impact. How does this initiative resonate with the context in China?
As the Chinese saying goes, “Many hands make light work” and “High-level consultations”, which may be the two levels of a strong foundation.
Philanthropy needs the support of each institution and each individual, which is a kind of participation and culture, and is also an embodiment of civilization. Therefore, consensus can be built in a process from both quantitative to qualitative changes.
In the process of building consensus, the governments, enterprises and entrepreneurs with resource influence are indispensable. The foundations, as their organization form in the field of philanthropy, are an important carrier and channel as well as a way to establish an effective mechanism for exchanges. It is of vital significance to promote the change in understanding or investment concept of relevant foundations. It must be emphasized again that people are the core of all and talent training to utilize human capital is the eternal truth.
For more information about the World Philanthropy Forum, visit this site.