The Rockefeller Foundation has announced a commitment of $1 billion over three years to help catalyze a more inclusive green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The single largest commitment in the foundation’s 107-year history will focus on two key areas: catalyzing private and concessional investments in efforts to scale distributed renewable energy in developing countries; and ensuring more equitable access to COVID-19 data, tests and vaccines, and science-based tools, while also strengthening public health systems to prevent future outbreaks. According to the foundation, half the world’s population lacked access to essential health services pre-COVID and more than eight hundred million people lacked access to electricity; another hundred million have lost access to power during the pandemic.
With the aim of providing communities most directly impacted by climate change with the reliable, clean electricity needed to boost irrigation, crop yields, and the productivity of local farms, the foundation will work with global investors, international organizations, and governments to drive public-private investment in infrastructure that accelerates the adoption of renewable energy across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
In the area of health care, the foundation — which released a U.S. National Covid-19 Testing & Tracing Action Plan in July and has collaborated with federal, state, and local leaders to increase access to COVID-19 testing, with a focus on vulnerable communities — will increase its investments in expanding access to screening tests, treatments, and vaccines as they become available, both in the United States and around the world.
To finance those efforts, the foundation will leverage both its endowment and the proceeds of its first-ever bond offering for charitable purposes — $700 million in Series 2020 Taxable Bonds. In addition to the ten-figure commitment, the foundation will rededicate and reorient its efforts toward improving the lives of the world’s poorest people and addressing existing inequities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
“There’s no going back to the past, to before-COVID. We need to reimagine the future we want,” said the foundation’s president, Rajiv J. Shah. “To meet this moment, we must leverage all our resources and relationships to build an equitable, sustainable future where everyone has the opportunity to realize their full potential and climate disaster is avoided. The time to act is right now to make sure vulnerable children and families are included in the pandemic response and recovery.”