Large corporates and SMEs joining hands to make strides toward sustainability
The Partnership for Sustainability Leadership in Business (PSLB) programme under the Centre for Civil Society and Governance (CCSG) of The University of Hong Kong (HKU) today organised its first Knowledge Primer (KP). Themed “Sustainability and the ‘New Normal’: Building Business Preparedness and Leveraging New Opportunities”, the event brought together over 300 sustainability experts and industry practitioners to discuss how integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities into core business strategies can enhance their adaptiveness to the “new normal” challenges while contributing to a sustainable future. The Sustainable Value Chains (SVC) Commitment and SMEs Sustainability Leadership Recognition Scheme, which connect large corporates and SMEs and provide capacity building resources to co-create SVC in Hong Kong and the region, were officially launched at the event.
Sharing SVC Knowledge to Businesses by Academics and Pioneers
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged businesses regardless of industry, size and location to adapt to the new normal through changing the way they operate, collaborate and create impact. This inaugural KP focuses on how businesses should integrate sustainability principles and best practices into their operations for minimising risks, as well as leveraging new opportunities in the region with a view to attaining long-term resilience in the value chains.
The two keynote speakers, Mr. Daniel Chan, Head of Greater Bay Area, HSBC, and Professor Witman Hung, JP, Principal Liaison Officer for Hong Kong, The Shenzhen Qianhai Authority, delivered speeches on “Driving the Greater Bay Area’s sustainability transition: Fostering the momentum for value chain collaboration” and “Navigating the post-pandemic era: How can Hong Kong businesses truly leverage the Greater Bay Area opportunities for sustainable growth” respectively.
“A sustainable value chain is underpinned by a collaborative approach that create shared values for the private sector, local community and the environment. It is important for companies to integrate sustainability into its daily operations. Meanwhile, helping youth to reach their full potential is critical for talent pool development in the GBA. The demand for talents in digital innovation and green economy will continue to grow in the GBA. We look forward to playing our part in promoting sustainability and talent development in the GBA.” says Mr. Daniel Chan.
Professor Witman Hung, JP said, “I believe sustainable Greater Bay Area should work hard in 10 pillar positions which include: Technology Innovation, Digitalisation, Talents, Green / Blue GBA, Professionals, Infrastructure, Consumption, Fin+Tech as well as Creditability. With institutional or system innovation, we can set up protocols and standards for GBA. Sustainable development in areas such as society, enterprise, human resources, environment etc. can facilitate GBA to achieve strategic convergence in coming future.”
Representatives from Nan Fung Group, Starbucks Coffee Asia Pacific, Rosewood Hotel Group and The Hong Kong and China Gas Company Limited subsequently joined the event to take part in a panel discussion on “Value chain collaboration for sustainability”. With experiences in driving business sustainability within their organisations, these companies recognise the importance of working together with their upstream and downstream business partners to enhance their overall performance. Collaboration by means of sharing knowledge, co-designing and innovating projects as well as providing support is key.
Introducing Programs to Co-create SVC in Hong Kong and the region
The event also comprised a launch ceremony for the SVC Commitment and SMEs Sustainability Leadership Recognition Scheme. Professor Wai-Fung Lam, Director of the CCSG, HKU, said, “Nowadays, with better understanding of the associated risks to business, tightened regulatory requirements and increased stakeholders’ awareness, the attention to sustainability management among businesses has expanded from their own operations to value chains. Rather than having individual companies tackle sustainability challenges in silo, given the scale and systemic nature of sustainability issues, collaborations between large corporates and their SME business partners which can, in turn, create a business ecosystem that would generate greater impact on driving sustainable development.”
With large corporates’ taking the lead, the SVC Commitment strives to foster closer collaboration between partners along the value chain to resolve sustainability challenges together, and to facilitate SMEs to improve their capabilities on business sustainability. To become signatories, large corporates will publicly disclose their understandings of sustainability, corporate goals and strategies, as well as nominate two upstream / downstream SME business partners to participate in the SMEs Sustainability Leadership Recognition Scheme, provide resources and guidance to support the nominated SMEs in integrating and implementing sustainability measures in the operations with the aid of two key knowledge resources of PSLB – the web-based SME Sustainability Self-check Tool and SME Sustainability Roadmap and Kick-Starter Impact Toolkit.
“HKEX is delighted to be supporting the Programme, helping to drive ESG stewardship in our markets and the wider community. In fully understanding their risks and vulnerabilities, businesses, large and small, can successfully put ESG principles into practice. HKEX, as a regulator, market operator and listed company, sees itself as a change agent, committed to promoting ESG standards and reinforcing the importance of sustainability amongst listed companies and their business partners, including SMEs,” said Ms. Katherine Ng, Chief Operating Officer and Head of Policy and Secretariat Services, Listing, HKEX.
“We are honoured to have prominent business figures, including Nan Fung Group, Starbucks Coffee Asia Pacific, Rosewood Hotel Group and The Hong Kong and China Gas Company Limited, supporting the SVC Commitment and our programme. We invite all companies that have the same vision of co-creating SVC in Hong Kong and beyond with their SME business partners to join the programme. Together we can foster a business ecosystem for sustainable development,” remarked Mr. Darwin Leung, Assistant Project Manager of CCSG, HKU.
To view the SVC leaflet, please click here.
To view the PSLB’s toolkits, please click here.
Please find high-res photos here.