Manulife and World Economic Forum Announce Global UpLink Innovation Challenges to Spur Nature-based Solutions to Climate Change

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Efforts will surface and scale innovative solutions that strengthen sustainable forestry and improve health and well-being.

TORONTO, Jan. 19, 2023 /PRNewswire/ – Manulife and the World Economic Forum (“the Forum”), announced the launch of two Innovation Challenges in 2023 through UpLink, the Forum’s open innovation platform. The partnership was announced at the Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos and aims to engage ecopreneurs and partners to help them scale new and innovative ideas and ventures.

The two UpLink Innovation Challenges will unlock solutions that stem from, and are aimed at, forests, to galvanize an ecopreneur revolution that will help to safeguard nature, climate, livelihoods, and the well-being of people. Full project details, including eligibility criteria and timelines, can be found on the challenge page here.

The Sustainable Forest Economy Challenge will aim to source innovative solutions across the value chain from the sustainable management of forests to the production and utilization of wood. A climate smart forest economy approach is critical to protect, maintain, manage, restore, and regrow forests. Applicants can begin applying today through March 1st, 2023.

The Forests and Trees Improving Human Health and Well-being Challenge will aim to surface innovations fostering improved interlinkages between planetary and human health. Details for this challenge will be made public later this year.

Biodiversity is degrading faster than at any time in history1, driving poor environmental, economic, and human health outcomes. This includes the loss of forests, which is destabilizing natural systems. Sustainably managed forests and farms are a critical part of reversing harmful environmental impacts; they sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil, act as flood barriers, and have been shown to enhance mental and physical health. Through this project, Manulife furthers its ongoing commitment to continue scaling nature-based climate solutions and investments in sustainable forestry and farmland to help combat nature loss, because collective action is needed to sustain our societies and economies.

“Our environment is key to human health and wellbeing, and as a global life insurer and asset manager, we see firsthand how damaged ecosystems put livelihoods and economies at risk,” said Roy Gori, President and CEO, Manulife. “Given our position as one of the world’s largest sustainable timberland and farmland investment managers2, we can support and scale innovative solutions, which are urgently needed in response to the rapid degradation of nature and biodiversity. We are very excited to launch this project with the World Economic Forum and UpLink and want to hear from passionate, big thinkers who can help us address and reverse nature loss.” 

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1

Based on the “The Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services” released by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IBPES) in 2019.

2

RISI, Inc. 2021 data based on top 15 global Timber Investment Management Organizations (TIMO) by assets under management. Manulife pays a subscription fee for access to the database.

“Innovation is not a nice-to-have, but an essential ingredient in achieving the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals,” said John Dutton, Head of UpLink and Member of the Executive Committee for the World Economic Forum. “We’re proud to join forces with Manulife to source and scale the innovative solutions that will strengthen sustainable forestry, improve wellbeing, and promote nature-based solutions to climate change. This commitment will help to shine a light on the often-overlooked purpose-driven entrepreneurs whose solutions are so urgently needed, giving them the visibility, resources, and expertise they need to tackle the world’s biggest challenges head on.”

This project builds upon Manulife and the World Economic Forum’s continued partnership. Late last year, Manulife announced a pledge to 1t.org which is the Forum’s Trillion Trees initiative. As part of the pledge, Manulife is aiming to scale Manulife Investment Management’s carbon-focused forestry investments and sequestration of CO2 from the atmosphere through the forests it manages over a period of 5 years.

Like the 1t.org pledge, this partnership with Uplink aligns to Manulife’s recently announced Impact Agenda, which aims to build business to better the world by making decisions about the future of the firm’s business, rooted in the belief that collective actions drive meaningful change. To learn more about Manulife’s Impact Agenda, and to track progress against its goals, visit manulife.com/impact.

About Manulife  
Manulife Financial Corporation is a leading international financial services provider, helping people make their decisions easier and lives better. With our global headquarters in Toronto, Canada, we provide financial advice and insurance, operating as Manulife across Canada, Asia, and Europe, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States. Through Manulife Investment Management, the global brand for our Global Wealth and Asset Management segment, we serve individuals, institutions, and retirement plan members worldwide. At the end of 2021, we had more than 38,000 employees, over 119,000 agents, and thousands of distribution partners, serving over 33 million customers. We trade as ‘MFC’ on the Toronto, New York, and the Philippine stock exchanges and under ‘945’ in Hong Kong. Not all offerings are available in all jurisdictions. For additional information, please visit manulife.com

About UpLink
UpLink is the open innovation platform of the World Economic Forum, designed to unlock an ‘entrepreneur revolution’ for people and planet by supporting start-ups with innovative solutions for the world’s most pressing issues, as outlined by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 Launched at the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Annual Meeting in Davos in partnership with Deloitte and Salesforce, UpLink builds bridges between entrepreneurs and the investors, experts and partners who can help scale their ventures. UpLink crowdsources new innovations through a competition framework known as innovation challenges. UpLink has now run more than 43 challenges and identified over 350 entrepreneurs with innovative solutions across critical SDG areas including health, food, freshwater, ocean, plastics, education, climate and more. For more information, visit https://uplink.weforum.org 

About 1t.org 
1t.org is a World Economic Forum initiative that serves a global movement to conserve, grow and restore 1 trillion trees by 2030. 1t.org is set up to support the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. 1t.org mobilizes private sector engagement and ambition in forest conservation and restoration, facilitates multistakeholder dialogues in key geographies, and supports innovation, ecopreneurship and youth to incentivize and accelerate restoration. For additional information, please visit www.1t.org.

SOURCE Manulife Financial Corporation

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