Why is sustainability important?

WICS Sustainable Inclusion

What are some definitions of sustainability?

When asked to define sustainability, a common definition is “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” by the UN World Commission on Environment and Development. However, note that sustainable development is not the same as sustainability.  

One other definition is given by UCLA, stating that sustainability is “the integration of environmental health, social equity and economic vitality in order to create thriving, healthy, diverse and resilient communities for this generation and generations to come. The practice of sustainability recognizes how these issues are interconnected and require a systems approach and an acknowledgement of complexity.”

Boiling it down, an inclusive city incorporates all aspects of sustainability within it, including “social”, “environmental”, and “economic”.

There are frameworks illustrating how we can achieve sustainability. 

The UN SDGs is one such framework. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals provide a blueprint for peace and prosperity for humanity and the planet, now and into the future. Some of the goals include “no poverty”, “good health and well-being”, “affordable and clean energy”, “sustainable cities and communities”, “climate action”, and “life on land”. As seen, not all goals are focused on achieving net zero or eliminating fossil fuels. Reducing carbon emissions are, of course, paramount to mitigating climate change, but sustainability is a much broader concept than simply environmentalism. 

At WICS, we will specifically dive into achieving “Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns” with a workshop focused on circularity (life cycle of trash).  

ESG is another framework usually used to help investors evaluate the sustainability of a business. Businesses play a huge role in shaping the sustainability of cities, especially in a financial hub like Hong Kong. 

How sustainable is Hong Kong?

With regards to environmental sustainability, for example, Hong Kong lags behind other APAC cities in the green certification rate for new office buildings less than five years old. Hong Kong stands at a rate of around 61% in 2019, with Singapore and Sydney both at over 80%

Regarding economic sustainability, green and sustainable finance are becoming more mainstream. In the 2020 Hong Kong Green Finance Association Annual Forum, green and inclusive recovery were identified as key factors to Hong Kong’s economic development. The government also stepped up its game by doubling the size of the green bond programme in 2021, as compared to 2017, to HK$200 billion

In terms of social sustainability, click here to learn more.

How can we achieve a more sustainable Hong Kong? Join WICS to find out how!

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