Youth 4.0 Makes its Debut in Hong Kong

Hong Kong-wide Survey Reveals Young People’s Perspectives Towards Sustainable Development Goals for the City

According to the latest survey* commissioned by the Hong Kong chapter of the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN Hong Kong), Hong Kong’s young people at the age of 15-30 believe that combating climate change, using affordable and clean energy, and eradicating poverty are the top three most important Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Hong Kong. These are closely followed by having a healthy lifestyle, building a peaceful and inclusive society with justice, and eradicating inequality and discrimination.

More than nine in ten survey respondents (93.5%) express their willingness to support “sustainable development”, with a majority of them indicating positively that they would support initiatives relating to the environment. This includes waste recycling and reduction (47.8%) and conservation of power and water (30.9%). Additionally, close to four in ten respondents (38.7%) believe that their companies and schools have not done enough on sustainable development.

Close to seven in ten respondents (68.7%) have heard about “social enterprise” or “social innovation”. Over six in ten respondents (61.8%) also finds social enterprise to be a viable means to promote sustainable development through business behavior.

The survey reflects Hong Kong young people’s perspectives on the UN’s ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, the SDGs, as well as the concept of social entrepreneurship and social innovation.

The survey, entitled ‘Hong Kong Youth’s Opinions towards Sustainable Development’, is part of a Hong Kong-wide initiative, Youth 4.0, which kicks off today. Youth 4.0 aims to promote youth development on social entrepreneurship and to increase awareness of the UN’s SDGs amongst young people in Hong Kong. This initiative is the cross-sector collaboration among the academia, business and government, featuring a strategic partnership between Youth Co:Lab and the Hong Kong Social Enterprise Challenge (HKSEC).  The former is a partnership between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Citi Foundation while the latter is organised by the Center for Entrepreneurship of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and sponsored by the Home Affairs Bureau of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR).

Youth 4.0 is also supported by its sustainability partner — SDSN Hong Kong, co-hosted by CUHK and the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, established to mobilise expertise and resources to address the SDGs in Hong Kong.

Youth Co:Lab, co led by UNDP and Citi Foundation, aims to establish a common agenda for Asia-Pacific countries to invest in and empower youth to accelerate implementation of SDGs through leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurship. Youth Co:Lab will bring the first-ever Hong Kong Dialogue to the city on November 9-11 2018, which will provide a platform for exchange between different stakeholders including young people, business leaders, educational institutions, non-profit organizations and government, hoping to foster greater dialogue about current issues and concerns on youth, and to address and solve the city’s most pressing challenges faced by young people. In addition, the event also encourages an inclusive environment for youth innovation and entrepreneurship, which is in line with the objectives of the SDGs and Youth Development Strategy for Hong Kong.

“We are here to support young people. While we do not doubt the ability of young people to lead innovation, we know that the systems that have been conceived for their economic or social empowerment often fall short. We will only be able to work for the good of the region’s social entrepreneurs if we solidify our partnerships. We have to realise that driving this from the regional scale, including the partnership between Citi Foundation and UNDP, and leveraging the benefits of country level networks, and initiatives will be crucial to this success.” said Beniam Gebrezghi, Programme Specialist of Youth and Civic Engagement at the United Nations Development Programme Bangkok Regional Hub.

Speaking at the launch ceremony, Mr. Wayne Fong, Head of Corporate Affairs, Citi Hong Kong, said, “We are honored to collaborate with the Youth 4.0 partners to engage young people in Hong Kong to address social challenges and unemployment. Through Youth 4.0, it is our hope that by providing an ecosystem conducive to youth-led social entrepreneurship and innovation, we will harness youth leadership, and empower them to identify solutions to pressing social challenges and any unemployment issues that they are facing.”

Another integral part of Youth 4.0 is the Hong Kong Social Enterprise Challenge (HKSEC) which is organised by the Center for Entrepreneurship of CUHK and sponsored by the Home Affairs Bureau of the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR). The first and longest standing inter-collegiate competition of its kind in Hong Kong, the Challenge comprises a unique combination of education, competition and incubation components for the participants and offers overseas exposure for the winners.  In the past 11 years, HKSEC has brought about 1,248 social venture plans, with 7,304 participants from 45 institutions engaged. 2018 HKSEC is open for registration and a series of training and coaching sessions has started from September 2018 onwards. The finale presentation will be held in March 2019.

Professor Elsie Tsui, Project Director of Hong Kong Social Enterprise Challenge and Adjunct Associate Professor of Department of Management at CUHK Business School added, “Hong Kong Social Enterprise Challenge has been a leading platform to help local young people address social problems through entrepreneurial means. Through the years, we have given the local youngsters various types of support to launch their meaningful social ventures. This year, we are excited to be a part of Youth 4.0 initiative, which enables the young local social entrepreneurs to further expand their horizon and meet fellow social innovators across Asia.”

* The survey, conducted by the Centre for Communication and Public Opinion Survey of CUHK, polled a total of 504 respondents, aged 15 to 30, via telephone between July 19 and August 7, 2018.