The Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong is a proactive, non-government body representing more than 1200 members with business interests in Canada, Hong Kong and Mainland China. Founded in 1977, we are today the most prominent Canadian business association outside Canada and one of the largest and most influential business groupings in Asia-Pacific.
The Sustainable Development Committee aims to promote the sustainable development of Hong Kong and the region by:
- Building capability of members and the community;
- Promoting Canadian Chamber member contributions;
- Advocating good policies and practices; and,
- We are partnering with like-minded organisations.
In 1997 Anne Copeland-Chui started the Canadian Chamber Sustainable Development Committee because of personal concern about the state of Hong Kong regarding Environmental and Social Issues and frustration at the Hong Kong Government squandering resources with project investigations that were not wanted by the community at large.
The subcommittee initially started as an Environmental committee although soon it was realised that they were doing far more, so renamed the committee to “Sustainable Development” to better reflect the actions.
The purpose of the Sustainable Development Committee is to engage Chamber Members to do more to further sustainability action. The committee is not limited to Canadian’s. It is more about action/doing rather than networking.
The committee is linking Economic and Social Issues in Hong Kong and is focused on events to raise awareness and develop better stakeholder engagement. In the late 1990s, no one was talking about sustainability.
The Canadian Chamber gave resources and support. Personally, key individuals such as W. K. Chan and Barry Cook (HK General Chamber) and Albert Lai and Tom Masterson (American Chamber) also supported. It is all about cooperatively working together, respecting others views and coming up with a better product together.
The Government was initially a big stumbling block as they were slow to recognise the results and actions of the committee were from legitimate concerns. They perceived that locals and foreigners were not keen to talk about sustainability when they did want to. Some other Chambers were also not wanting to take ownership of the issues.
Locally in Hong Kong
- Radio interviews to share ideas
- Proved to Government and others that multi-stakeholder workshops are valuable.
- Showed what sustainability was about. That issues are integrated.
- Provided a channel for the effort and the range of issues (especially through the surveys for the Sustainable Development Index – SDI – which has run for five years) to be worked on by many to achieve more. The SDI covers questions on CSR, Economic, Health and Education to over 2000 people each year.
Nationally in China
- Cross border events in China like 14th Green Forum in Shenzhen
- Canadian reporters covering the initiative
- British Telecom now uses the workshop format and the SDI format in their work, particularly in India
The Sustainable Development Committee has spread examples of its work to Macau, British Telecom and into Canada. Also to all the people involved in the events and on the committee. People join the committee, due to it being known as one of the most active groups of its type.
The social impacts for the committee are in raising awareness that issues are linked. E.g. Health, Economics, Clean Air. The Sustainable Development Committee has bought social matters to the business community.
Anne’s hopes and vision for the future are that the Council for Sustainable Development will put a holistic strategy in place for Hong Kong and that Government will work with the community. She would like to see every business look at what they do from a sustainability perspective and to see “rigorous” Sustainable Development Tools improved.