Chief Secretary Carrie Lam
After decades of economic growth, Hong Kong has become a renowned international financial hub and, in general terms, an affluent city. However, under the breath-taking skylines, there are unmet societal needs. Great wealth and opportunity in some quarters is offset by increasing uncertainty and constraints in others. Swift development of technology is altering possibilities in education, social connection and business. Young people are concerned about opportunities for upward mobility, while rapid ageing of the population is changing patterns of need.
To meet these challenges, fresh ideas and a renewed willingness to test out different ways of creating value for individuals, businesses and the community are needed to foster the continuous growth of our city.
Over the past five years, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government has worked to strengthen social safety nets and to build an environment that provides a catalyst for new ideas. We have introduced the old age living allowance which is pro-security in retirement; the low income family allowance which is pro-work; the use of vouchers for social services which is pro-choice; and the pre-school on-site rehabilitation services for children with special education needs which is pro-cross-sector collaboration. These are measures that give full respect to the individuals and allow them to develop their opportunities.
In addition, through the work of the Innovation & Technology Commission, the recent establishment of the Innovation & Technology Bureau, and the Commission on Poverty’s initiative to set up the Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship Development Fund, we have been building the ecosystem of support both for the creation of new businesses and for existing business to rethink the way that they operate.
I am particularly interested in two of the themes that the Task Force on the Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship Development Fund, chaired by Professor Stephen Cheung, has been pursuing, the ideas of “Creating Shared Value” and of “Collective Impact”.
The first of these themes, “Creating Shared Value”, challenges established businesses with the fact that no business simply creates profit for shareholders through providing goods or services needed by customers. Every business also creates impacts on the people it employs, the society in which it operates and the environment in which it exists. By thinking about how business value can be created in ways that increase social value and reduce or avoid harm to the environment, shared value can be created that serves to enrich society and further improve both the business environment and individual opportunity.
Overcoming the inertia of entrenched business practices and assumptions in order to find shared value is not an easy task – just as it is not an easy task in public service or any other domain of life – but I have been heartened by the response of numerous businesses to the call to rethink, to experiment and to find ways to work better for our city and our society.
The second theme, “Collective Impact”, takes us beyond business to the collaboration between business, community and government to address complex social problems. It is built around three ideas. The first is that each partner brings unique capability and insight to help address an issue. The second is that no one partner can address an issue effectively alone. The third idea, which is the key, is that no one plan into which each partner is slotted can address an issue effectively either, that instead there needs to be an agreement on a common purpose, freedom for each partner to experiment and try out ideas, and a mechanism to share experience and learn together how to improve the effectiveness of combined action.
Such an experimental approach to addressing complex issues can be hard for businessmen, politicians and the public to accept. We clamour for quick wins and assurance of solutions. We assume that we know what the problem is that needs to be solved. But a complex system – which any city of 7 million people must certainly be in – does not give rise to easily defined problems. Tackling one problem can uncover more, indeed, often it can cause new and unexpected difficulties. Learning through a variety of experiments, trial and error is the sensible way to navigate through the currents of complexity.
But, people who are in need, who face great frustrations and difficulties in their lives, grow impatient with talk of learning and experiments. They want to see hands reaching out, doors opened, barriers lifted. That is where the Sharing Good Values initiative you are launching today comes in.
The best advocate for good values is the evidence of those values being put into practice whether in businesses, in non-profits, in institutions of education and development, or in families and between friends and neighbours in the community. By your advocacy and action to advance good values, to encourage businesses to seek to create shared value, and to develop collaboration to improve collective impact you can do much to bring inspiration, ideas and opportunity to our community. My presence here today is evidence of my good wishes to each of you and you can be assured of my continuous support, and that of my colleagues in the Government and the public service.
Hong Kong has proven its value in the past to millions of people who have come and made their homes here. Hong Kong in the past and today creates great value for the region and even the world. I believe that in the sharing and the exercise of good values lays the source from which this city and its people will continue to create abounding value for ourselves, for our neighbours, for many years to come. Let me end by wishing the Hong Kong Shared Good Values movement every success.
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the launching ceremony of Hong Kong Shared Good Values on August 30.