After all, we can agree that the city’s success has also created a conservative status quo in key economic areas. From climate change to higher education, the interests of younger generations – an age range, in practice, that spans recent school graduates to parents in their early 40s – are seen to be neglected at a time when we need to revolutionise the economy with a view to its role, and the needs of the people, over the next 20-30 years.
With adequate support and guidance, the bright and hardworking young people of this city can develop practical ideas that can resolve Hong Kong’s problems.
Over the past few months, core values I have had the great privilege of working closely with two groups of young people, listening to their thoughts about the city and helping them develop practical ideas for the future. These young people cross age ranges, employment backgrounds, educational levels, incomes and ethnicities. Importantly, they want to stay in Hong Kong, and help build a more diversified economy.
These young people were asked to do a lot in just a few weeks. We gave them a meaty problem – diversifying Hong Kong’s economy and creating new jobs for the city’s youth – asked them to do independent research, then drove them to develop actionable ideas that the city’s leaders could take forward.
Take the creation of an energy-efficiency market and a mandate that buildings disclose their energy usage. This would give real meaning to the idea of using tech to create a smart city. Buildings that undergo retrofitting procedures to improve their efficiency would be rewarded for these efforts, while those that lagged behind would be charged. This would create a working market in energy efficiency, contributing to Hong Kong’s stated objective of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. The same could be done with the management of solid waste and waste water, with revenue raised from waste charges going to an SME green fund which could be tapped by youth entrepreneurs keen to build a “green economy.”