Citigroup Survey Highlights "Social Entrepreneurs'" Climate Fears

Editorial Staff 8 November 2022

Citigroup Survey Highlights

In this study, "social entrepreneurs" are "youth who are entrepreneurs and/or actively involved in a business or a non-profit organization that aims to achieve positive social or environmental impact".

A new report from Citigroup surveying more than 1,000 young social entrepreneurs across 25 markets in Asia-Pacific highlighted climate change as a global emergency, placing the spotlight on how this group is taking bold steps to address climate challenges. 

Those surveyed were increasingly involved with developing climate solutions and working with organisations that were taking action to minimise the negative environmental impact of their operations, the report shows. 

It found that 74 per cent of those questioned expect climate change to negatively affect their organisations.

The report entitled Climate Concern to Climate Action: The Role of Young Social Entrepreneurs was commissioned by Youth Co:Lab, an initiative co-led by Citi Foundation and the United Nations Development Programme. It targeted young social entrepreneurs between the ages 16 and 35, operating in the Asia-Pacific region, to understand the role that cohort can play in tackling the climate emergency and the support they need to amplify the impact of climate actions and solutions. The research defines "social entrepreneurs" as "youth who are entrepreneurs and/or actively involved in a business or a non-profit organisation that aims to achieve positive social or environmental impact." (The report did not state whether these persons are high net worth individuals, or how representative they are over the overall HNW Asia-Pacific population.)

Coinciding with the COP27 conference of international leaders, businessfolk and activists in Egypt, the report demonstrates how financial institutions, including wealth managers, are keen to broadcast their work in the ESG and sustainability space. The surge in energy prices following two years of lockdowns, the Russia-Ukraine war, Net Zero policies and central bank money printing, have thrown arguments about decarbonisation and renewable energy sources into sharp relief. Debate is not always easy: Russia's invasion of Ukraine has even prompted Germany to re-open coal-fired power stations as Russian natural gas exports to the country have fallen off. Economic pain after the pandemic has also raised questions of how viable Net Zero ambitions on carbon dioxide emissions really are.

The Citigroup study found that 85 per cent of young social entrepreneurs faced difficulties in advancing climate action. Among this group, access to adequate financial resources emerged as the biggest obstacle to advancing climate action, with 68 per cent of respondents identifying it as a challenge. A lack of connection to relevant partners and the absence of education and training were listed as the second and third biggest obstacles according to 55 per cent and 46 per cent of respondents, respectively.

“We are working with clients and other partners across Citi’s global network to help close gaps highlighted in this report and build a sustainable future. Social entrepreneurs play a critical role in this effort, and we are committed to supporting this inspirational group in developing innovative sustainable solutions," Peter Babej, CEO of Citi Asia-Pacific said.

In 2020 and 2021, Citi said it financed and facilitated $222 billion in sustainable finance activity. Citi has also committed $1 trillion in sustainable finance by 2030, including $500 billion for environmental finance and $500 billion for social finance.

The topography of the Asia-Pacific region makes it more vulnerable to climate change risks than any other region in the world, posing a threat to the sustainable futures of more than 660 million youths in the region, who account for over 60 per cent of the global youth population.

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