Jeremy Prepscius, Vice President, Asia-Pacific, BSR
BSR’s recent "Hong Kong Dinner Series: Networks and Sustainability" focused on the role international business can play in building sustainability into the city’s future. Local and international business as well as local government participated in the discussion, which highlighted the uniqueness of this vibrant yet transient business hub and the challenges companies face in promoting sustainability through long-term, impactful changes.
Hong Kong faces real tests in governance and sustainability, which will affect the city’s population and its business environment. All dinner participants agreed that international business has an important role to play in addressing Hong Kong’s sustainability challenges, from air quality to waste, energy efficiency to climate change. How these issues are confronted will directly impact companies in Hong Kong, whether in their ability to attract and retain global talent, change business models, or evolve local community connections.
Business in Hong Kong can invest in sustainability through:
- Getting to work. Whether it is by focusing on poverty or recycling, care for the aged or youth empowerment, energy efficiency or beach cleanups, there are many great ways to take action on local sustainability issues and to provide an opportunity to engage employees on projects that are meaningful to them.
- Collaborating with corporate peers. Recognizing the often transient nature of leadership in many international companies in Hong Kong, leaders need to collaborate actively with corporate peers and to embed into the corporate web of Hong Kong the expectations for meaningful, collective engagement. Otherwise, each three- to five-year cycle ends up in a continuous sequence of familiarization, implementation, and departure—and little is built over time.
- Building local constituencies. Finally, there needs to be a collective understanding that the work undertaken by companies is only a small part of what is necessary to drive change and impact in Hong Kong. Lasting change will come from investing in the local community constituencies that support sustainability. Combining corporate local sustainability efforts with local NGOs, civil society organizations, or other groups will enable broader engagement to build support to develop a sustainable Hong Kong.
This dinner was inspired by a recently published BSR article "Sustainable Urban Growth: Is Hong Kong a Model for China?" by BSR Director Raj Sapru.