Business and Social Sciences

Awareness and action to create a sustainable economy

Do you know that Hong Kong generates more rubbish per person than many comparable cities? Yet, Hong Kong is unusual in not charging for residential municipal waste disposal. Environmental issues such as air pollution, water quality, and waste collection cause serious concerns among Hong Kong residents. Yet the government spends less than 6 percent of its budget on the environment.

There is a lack of broad understanding of the connectedness between economic development and sustainability. Often, sustainable development is placed in opposition with economic growth. It is seen as something that is good to have so long as it does not undercut economic growth. The challenge is to discard this counter-productive winners-losers mindset in the policy process in order to enhance the alignment of suppliers' and consumers' interests.

The concept of a "sustainable economy" changes the traditional view of economic development that sees economic growth and profit as the only objectives. Sustainable economy suggests a broader scope of development and takes into account the aspects of well-being of life, such as air quality, health, and human justice.

Hong Kong, as elsewhere, has a rising awareness of the relationship between environment and business. Some local companies have already taken initiatives on sustainable business growth, green business models, and corporate social responsibilities

While many people have recognized the need for sustainable development, gaps remain in translating the awareness of sustainability issues to action on them in business and consumption decisions. For example, while the community welcomes the idea of reducing energy wastage, there is a worry about an increase in energy costs. How can we close these gaps so as to bridge knowledge and awareness to action to improve sustainability?