[Sponsored] It’s been almost three years since Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic. The outbreak has had a drastic human toll, with far-reaching consequences for how we live and work. 

With the end now in sight, countries are looking for ways to seize the moment and drive social and economic recovery.

SES 2022

From November 24-27, 2022, the 15th Social Enterprise Summit (SES) brings together over 70 local and international speakers from across the globe for a symposium under the theme “Bounce Forward Together.”  

During the four-day event at Hong Kong’s HKCEC, specialists, academics and business representatives will explore essential lessons learned during the pandemic. Speakers will also discuss ways to drive cross-sector collaboration in response to emerging social, economic and environmental challenges.

And there are many challenges ahead. On top of the 15 million deaths directly and indirectly attributable to the coronavirus, the 2022 UN Sustainable Development Goals report finds that the pandemic has wiped out over four years of progress in alleviating poverty and severely disrupted critical health services.

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Photo: UN.

As the world teeters on the edge of a climate catastrophe, billions of people are already experiencing the consequences of increasingly extreme weather and global warming. The report finds that energy-related CO2 emissions rose by 6 per cent in 2021 and are now at their highest level to date. 

Global greenhouse gas emissions must decline by 43 per cent by 2030, falling to net zero by 2050, if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Instead, under current voluntary national commitments, global greenhouse gas emissions are set to rise by nearly 14 per cent over the next decade.

Healthcare waste from the pandemic is also threatening the environment, with tens of thousands of tonnes of extra medical waste putting a strain on healthcare waste management systems worldwide. The UN reports that 30 per cent of healthcare facilities worldwide cannot handle existing waste loads, let alone the additional waste caused by Covid-19. This rises to 60 per cent in the least developed countries. 

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File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

While countries are starting to find ways to redress the damage the pandemic has done to lives and economies, major gaps remain.

Renewed sense of urgency

Since it was founded in Hong Kong in 2008, SES has advocated for innovative solutions to problems and helped achieve sustainability in different sectors.

During the launch ceremony for SES 2022, held on September 15, SES Organising Committee Chair, Rebecca Choy Yung, spoke of the urgent need to inspire and empower social innovation and entrepreneurship.

SES 2022 Launch Ceremony
SES 2022 Launch Ceremony. Photo: SES.

“In the past two years, the pandemic has brought about drastic changes in society and people’s livelihood,” she said. “It is time to learn from experience, use the strength of social innovation and social entrepreneurship to explore a new way of life post-pandemic and forge new consensus to drive innovation and change.

“As SES hits the 15-year mark this year, we [want] to discuss and deepen our understanding of the development and evolution of social entrepreneurship and social innovation in Hong Kong and beyond.”

‘Green goddess of China’ gives keynote speech

As chairperson of the Joint US-China Collaboration on Clean Energy (JUCCCE), Peggy Liu is a leading environmentalist in China. She works to accelerate the greening of China for a more liveable world.

Since founding JUCCCE in 2007, Liu has consulted with companies and governments on sustainable innovation and promoted cross-cultural collaboration on initiatives, including clean energy.

Peggy Liu
Chairperson of the Joint US-China Collaboration on Clean Energy Peggy Liu. Photo: SES.

Working as a leading green voice in China for the past 15 years, Liu has been honoured as a “Hero of the Environment” by Time magazine, hailed as the “Green goddess of China” by the Chinese press, and awarded the prestigious Hillary Step for climate change solutions in 2012. 

China is the world’s top emitter of carbon dioxide but is battling its environmental problems with far-reaching eco-initiatives and a pledge to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2060. 

Through her work with JUCCCE, Liu has helped to catalyse China’s leaps into cleantech, Smart Grid, ecocities, efficient lighting, green bonds and sustainable diets. JUCCCE’s flagship initiatives include training mayoral and government officials on building sustainable cities, improving heating efficiency in rural schools, and the China Dream, which seeks to reinvent consumerism in China.

Liu joins the Social Enterprise Summit on its opening day (November 24) to give a keynote speech on “Success Societal Change for a Greener Future Faster”.

During the hour-long session, Liu will share the lessons she’s learned running her NGO. She will reveal insights into how JUCCCE has helped China to tackle environmental health challenges, paving the way for long-term sustainable development and investment in the wider region.

Unlocking resources: Promoting ESG and innovative finance 

In these challenging times, the public and private sectors have accelerated the pace at which we can solve complex environmental issues.

On the second day of SES (November 25), a four-person panel will gather to share case studies from both the public and private sectors that promote the benefits of ESG and innovative finance. 

Jonathan Wong
Jonathan Wong, technology and innovation chief at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. Photo: SES.

The 90-minute session, “Unlocking Resources for Sustainability”, is moderated by Dr Ilex Lam, chair of iEnterprise Foundation. He is joined by panellist Jonathan Wong, technology and innovation chief at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).

Chong Chan Yau
Chong Chan Yau, co-founder and CEO of CarbonCare InnoLab. Photo: SES.

Wong has substantial technology and innovation policy expertise, having advised governments across Europe, Africa, Asia and the Pacific. He has led several high-profile innovation initiatives, including the Global Innovation Fund, which is a partnership between the governments of the US, UK, Sweden, Australia, South Africa and the Omidyar Network. 

Alongside Wong is Chong Chan Yau, co-founder and CEO of CarbonCare InnoLab. Chong works to build awareness of climate change among young people in Hong Kong, encourage lifestyle changes that can reduce emissions, and advocate for a shift away from fossil fuels. 

The panel is completed by Professor Alfred Tat-Kei Ho, Head (PIA) and professor at CityU’s Department of Public & International Affairs, and Maggie Loo, partner, client and strategy development at Bridges Fund Management.

Together, the four panellists will explore why sustainable development has become more crucial during the pandemic and discuss successful case studies from their experience in the public and private sectors.

How to attend SES 2022

The four days of the Social Enterprise Summit 2022 are packed with a varied programme of talks, gatherings, visits and showcases that will appeal to anyone looking for sustainable, innovative solutions to the planet’s most pressing problems. 

“This year’s symposium aims to raise the public and industry’s awareness in mapping the road to post-pandemic revival while promoting collaboration between civil, business, government and academic sectors,” says Organising Committee Chair Rebecca Choy Yung. 

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SES 2021. Photo: SES.

“It also inspires young people to seek innovative solutions that bring positive changes and encourage different parties to join hands in building a future full of possibilities.”

Day three of SES showcases a youth summit designed to instil a spirit of social innovation among the young community and encourage social innovators to share ideas. 

It’s an example of how SES harnesses the power of collaboration. By treating young people as agents of change, organisers point out, we can empower them to lead the way towards a sustainable society in the future.

New and innovative solutions are constantly emerging to tackle fresh social, economic and environmental challenges. But these solutions alone are not enough. Instead, collective efforts across society – the civil, business, government and academic sectors – hold the key to a better future. 

The Social Enterprise Summit runs from November 24-27, 2022.

  • Event: Social Enterprise Summit 2022: International Symposium.
  • Theme: Bounce Forward Together. 
  • Date: Nov 24–27, 2022.
  • Format: In-person (hybrid); online participation available for specific sessions.
  • Venue: Online event; HKCEC.
  • International Symposium pass (regular): HK$500.
  • International Symposium pass (seniors/full-time student): HK$200.
  • Details & registration: https://bit.ly/3RVeXRQ