Hong Kong is a global city of innovation, impact and inclusion, and its youth are actively helping our city build back broader, greener and stronger.
With partnership and collaboration around the world together with the strong support from our local government, InvestHK and StartmeupHK is working with startups and larger companies to position themselves for new growth in a post-COVID world.
As part of the StartmeupHK Festival this year, InvestHK and KIDsforSDGs hosted a ‘Youth Forum’ on the 26th of May, dedicated to finding innovative ideas to address the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Young changemakers shared their perspectives on a diverse range of issues, ranging from income inequality to greater justice and gender equality. This event was made possible by Mr. Stephen Phillips, Director-General of InvestHK and Ms. Jayne Chan, Head of StartmeupHK.
Young people have been historically overlooked as a stakeholder in the discourse for social change. Although this has been changing, youth still harness untapped capabilities and competencies — all of which can be channeled for the social good and to achieve the SDGs.
In fact, the leaders of tomorrow are already making changes today, with an increasing emergence of Gen Z changemakers; these digital natives recognize the power of social media, the intersectionality of the SDGs and the importance of grassroots action. The power of youth cannot be understated.
The Youth Summit has highlighted the critical role of cross-sector collaborations, and the need for partnerships at all levels of participation. With 9 years left to achieve the SDGs, partnerships — a spirit of collaboration and interconnectivity — can accelerate, amplify and bring about systemic changes.
To serve as a memento of SDG action and as a stepping stone for future opportunities, we invited speakers to share and reflect based on the following points:
What are your SDGs/ main points covered in your speech/ what you want people to know (e.g. about your organization, statistics, call to action)
What you have learnt from other speakers/ key takeaways from the event/ what is your action plan moving forward?
Opportunities for collaboration and partnerships / website / links (if applicable)
The responses from young changemakers below (in speaking order) highlights thought-provoking ideas and the rich tapestry of SDG action in Hong Kong. We hope these responses inspire fellow changemakers and provide a starting point for collaboration, cross-sector support and further opportunities to advance the sustainable development goals.
Alvin Wong, Founder, March to Your Beat
1. I am the founder of March to Your Beat - a music therapy initiative to aid those with autism. I advocate SDG 3, 9 and 10. Some alarming statistics: Over 60 million people worldwide fall under the autistic spectrum. In Hong Kong alone, there are approximately 25,000 registered autistic youth! Something needs to be done, and I see great opportunity for supporting the autistic community not just in Hong Kong but also in the Greater Bay Area through my passion for playing percussion music.
2. I have learned from all speakers at this event, in particular their use of technology to further their SDGs. I am excited about your use of social media to help spread the message and foster collaboration and cooperation, as no man is an island. I am also excited about my brother, Aden Wong, in his plans to incorporate mind games in his app to help elderlies to tackle dementia. It highlights the importance of tech, and that our society is moving beyond traditional medical interventions to technological means, such as gamifications, to help treat all sorts of patients!
3. This summer, I hope to be able to partner with organizations such as Autism Partnership and Heep Hong to deliver percussion-based music therapy. I am thoroughly excited for this incredible experience, and am looking forward to forging new friendships with the students as I conduct my music therapy sessions! I would also be delighted to participate in any of your forthcoming social media outreach for raising awareness of various connected SDGs.
Katia Shek, Comms Chair, Drop in the Ocean at CIS
1. The organization I represented is Drop In The Ocean - Chinese International School’s student-driven environmental group that strives to establish sustainability as a school value through systemic change, community dialogue, and education. Through working with an external sustainability consultancy firm - Metanoia - we have completed our school-wide sustainability audit in which data was collected for 12 modules (some include, Energy, Water, and Curriculum). By collecting extensive data, we curated a list of 100 key recommendations - my favorite one being full campus solar panel installations!
Now, you might be thinking, why did I choose my core SDG as Reduced Inequalities instead of Climate Action? The short answer is, environmental justice and social justice are inherently connected. This is a human rights issue that needs to be framed in a way that is more accessible to the human mind. Knowing that our human mind is fundamentally flawed in terms of caring for such issues that are too abstract, distant, and contested, we need to communicate this issue in a more engaging manner to those who have yet to join the fight for holistic social justice -- because as we know, the ecological crises disproportionately affect marginalized communities but more often than not, this narrative is not communicated effectively to the masses.
2. I have learned that collaboration between the different SDGs is key to ensuring improved wellbeing for people at all levels of society. Similar to how SDG 13 - Climate Action cannot be achieved without SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities, I learned from other speakers that we cannot achieve the goal of Quality Education without taking into account Gender Equality. This is particularly evident with STEM education; we need to empower girls and prevent cultural norms from dampening girls’ interest in STEM through fostering a new wave of culture.
Hence, my action plan moving forward is to incorporate more of the SDGs into our mission at DITO. Instead of focusing solely on the narrative of climate action, I aspire to expand our area of focus and enact a more interdisciplinary approach. For example, we could partner with student-led female empowerment groups to create Hackathons with the theme of sustainability. I look forward to working with the other speakers from the event to ensure that collective action is taken for all the SDGs!
3. We are always looking for more collaboration opportunities so you could email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or check us out at our website (www.ditocis.com) or we could stay connected with constant updates through our Instagram (@dito.cis). Please also feel free to reach out if you would like to share resources and experiences regarding different projects!
Grace Zheng, Founder, 1 Stitch 1 Heart
1. I chose to focus on the third SDG — ensuring healthy lives and promoting wellbeing for all ages. In many countries, we face a rapidly aging population; I believe this goal is as much about ensuring a sustainable future for our generations, as it is maintaining a good standard of living for our elders. We typically like to use quantifiable metrics, such as pension levels to measure how well provided for our elders are - but we know well-being is just as much about our mental health as it is physical. As our technology develops and our population becomes increasingly mobile, more and more elders are getting left behind. Last year, I co-launched a project to combat this issue — by using technology to bridge the gap between younger and older generations through technology.
It soon became evident that demand amongst the elderly was high - not just for using basic messaging apps such as WhatsApp, but also for saving posts on Facebook, finding the arrival time of the next minibus or even joining medical talks through Zoom. Working with the elderly directly, I was most surprised by not only their level of engagement but also willingness to learn. The elderly are also actively seeking technology as a tool to diversify their lives.
There have been plenty of innovations in the past… However, I believe it’s not about creating devices that are ‘elderly friendly’, but rather, assisting them in navigating the same programmes and apps we use. Whether it be increasing the use of virtual reality technology in stimulating elderlies’ lives or simply providing them with greater access to social media, we must improve digital literacy amongst our elderly.
2. I believe this event goes to show just how crucial partnership and collaboration are to achieving the SDGs. Each goal is closely interlinked with each other and it has truly been inspiring to hear about the many projects being initiated by the youths of our day. For my project, it also made me reflect on the wider context — why are some elderly still so opposed to the use of technology?
I believe this fundamentally ties back to the problem of access. Many barriers exist for the elderly who did not grow up in the same digital world as us and lack both the language and the skills to maximise the use of their devices. As a firm believer in using the power of technology for positive social interaction and engagement, I will continue to advocate and improve access to technology for the elderly.
3. IG page: https://www.instagram.com/1stitch1heart/
Nicole Lee, Youngest Global Lead Organizer, GirlsinAI Hong Kong
1. Hi! I'm Nicole, the youngest Global lead organizer that introduced the Global #GirlsinAI Campaign to Hong Kong. As someone who is a proactive individual, my personal area of interest entails embracing larger diversities in industries such as tech and STEM, and ensuring my best that opportunities are equalized and minority groups are empowered. My vision came about when I understood the depth of the issue - entering this industry meant that I was coming into a workforce with less than 16% of senior positions held by my kind. My ambition to fight for voices to be heard contributes to the Global Goals Gender Equality and Reduced Inequalities.
2. It was so inspiring to hear stories coming from enthusiastic teenagers like myself. The energy from the event gave a further sense of purpose as to why I am taking on these advocacy positions - to wholeheartedly give back to our society and initiate a chain reaction for contributing to the social good. As the youth, we are the key stakeholders that hold our future, and therefore, to see so many changemakers stepping into these leadership roles has allowed me to feel hopeful for a better future.
3. GirlsinAI will be hosting another hackathon soon, and we will be looking for partnerships as well! Looking forward to greeting those soon!
Christine Ren, Class of 2025, VSA
1. The Hong Kong government needs to spread awareness on the sustainable development goals, especially goal #12, responsible consumption and production.
2. I’ve learnt that there should be an equal amount of awareness for different subjects at school, including STEM and even arts. After this, my plan would be to set up my own charity in school promoting the SDG as well as taking action to change things in my school to meet the 2030 expectations.
Aden Wong, Founder, Active Grannies
1. I hope to address SDG 3 through Active Grannies. This is a platform I have created for our elderly population, with their mental and physical wellbeing in mind, and also with a specific emphasis on how we, as youth, can help them to tackle dementia. Some statistics from WHO and HK Government: Globally, around 50 million people have dementia. This number is projected to reach 150 million in 2050. Dementia mostly affects our elderly folks. Within 10 to 20 years, one in every four people in Hong Kong will become elderly. I wish to raise awareness of this issue and be an advocate for the needs of our rising elderly population.
2. All speakers showed great enthusiasm in addressing SDGs closest to their hearts. My biggest takeaway is that, whilst the UN has identified 17 different SDGs, they all have certain overlaps. Therefore, collaboration amongst different stakeholders pursuing different SDGs will most likely bring about synergy. And, your suggestion of using social media to promote the cause is very interesting. My action plan forward is the development of an app to help elderly patients to fight against dementia, and I surely won’t mind being part of your media campaign to help raise awareness, and invite others to join.
3. I see collaboration opportunities with Grace Zheng, who is also addressing SDG 3. She is looking to widen access to technologies by our elderly population so as to bridge the gap between the old and the young. This is also the kind of inclusiveness I am interested in.
Audrey Yuen, Founder, HK Youth Opps
1. On a local level, we can bring change to our own communities on a grassroots level by pioneering our own initiatives by youth, for youth. Last year, I founded a platform called HK Youth Opps which aims to bridge the gap in access to educational resources and opportunities in Hong Kong. Our mission is to bring opportunities to youth regardless of their gender, race, socio-economic background, religion, sexual orientation, etc. Over the past year, we've promoted opportunities such as NGO opportunities, academic competitions, educational conferences, webinars/podcasts, exam resources, journalism opportunities, internship opportunities, and leadership opportunities. Nowadays, the platform empowers over 600 youth from Hong Kong and abroad.
2. My takeaway from the event was that all the SDGs are fundamentally interconnected and we must therefore work together to solve the crises of today by looking at each issue holistically.
3. If you are interested in becoming a partner of hk_youth_opps, please fill out this Partnership Form. Thank you for your interest! https://forms.gle/4Lfxaw4j2F7mUbe38
Charmaine Ng, Founder, Ocean Act
1. The SDGs I had the chance to discuss were SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production and SDG 14: Life below water. Hong Kong is the second leading seafood consumer in Asia, with over 70kg of consumption per capita - about four times the global average of 18.9 kg. Yet the issue of seafood sustainability goes unaddressed.
What can we do?
1. Collection of data to understand the industry better
2. Raise consumer awareness
3. Hold corporations and industries responsible through government policy and action
2. Being able to be around so many youth changemakers was an incredible experience and very inspiring. After this event I am inspired to continue working hard on the issue I'm passionate about, and perhaps collaborations and opportunities will be opened and together we could create even further impact for all our SDGs.
Justin Cheng, Co-Founder and Editorial Director at VIVA Forum
1. Having been exposed to global inequalities through years of debating, and recently aware of local inequalities through volunteering in my home city, Hong Kong, I am deeply passionate about SDG 10, reduced inequalities. Especially with the aftermath of COVID-19, I believe it to be crucial not only to spread discourse on such inequalities but to discuss it with fellow leaders and try to enact change in local communities to catalyze change, no matter how small it may seem.
As such, I co-founded the VIVA Forum Initiative HK, a current affairs society of ~50 people from ~20 schools. Ever since, we have been featured on sites such as RTHK Radio 3 Hong Kong’s leading radio channel, and are collaborating with organizations such as MUN Impact, a global MUN community with ~200 partners, and KidsForSDGs, featuring leaders like Mr Kenneth Kwok, World Economic Forum Davos Agenda Session Contributor - we’ve come a long way!
2. I was inspired by the sheer diversity of initiatives and the dedication for every one of them. Despite its small landmass, Hong Kong is definitely big on innovation and advocacy, and the event reaffirmed my belief that no matter how insignificant we may think we are, we all have the capacity to enact change. Be it through influencing your schools to reduce carbon emissions and install solar panels, or through pushing for more female/ minority inclusion in fields such as AI, or through increasing awareness and conducting volunteering services for marginalized groups - for instance, the elderly or the poor - in our communities, we all can play a role in advancing the SDGs.
Despite their flaws, the SDGs are clear indicators of what to aim for as a regional and global collective, and we should take initiative to network with other changemakers to develop our passions, polish leadership skills and advance the SDGs. As such, we’re (VIVA HK)’s already trying to reach out to societies, Simply Share) and more, to build on our strengths and to push for change together, be it societal change, environmental change, or more.
3. With a diverse range of partnerships, ranging from international MUN societies like MUN Impact to prominent local conferences like ISMUNHK, to international advocacy groups like KidsforSDGs to local empowerment organizations like Simply Share, we understand the importance of collaboration.
If you’re a fellow youth leader who wishes to partner with us, please feel free to send us a DM on Instagram! If you want to join our society, please fill in the Representative form (takes around 5-10 minutes). Hope to see you soon in our society or at our Events!
Sophia Lawrence, Class of 2022, ITS Education Asia
1. I've chosen SDG 4 - Quality Education through the lens of SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities as I believe these two are inherently linked. Education is empowerment - let’s collaborate towards an accessible and inclusive society with quality education in the arts for all!
2. Listening to other youth speakers at the event, I felt an overwhelming sense of inspiration to drive forward my own initiative and to begin taking the first steps towards concrete action. From now on, I will engage with various stakeholders, such as local HK art hubs/organisations, and propose ideas for more accessible performing arts programmes catered towards the youth. Hearing the established organisations and ideas of other students like myself gave me the final push in actually propelling my project, so I'm grateful for the opportunity to have listened to them!
3. I would love to begin collaborating with schools across Hong Kong to suggest a more inclusive performing arts programme in curriculums. It would also be great to involve institutions such as HKAPA or the West Kowloon Arts centre. Any other collaborations with student-led organisations would also be ideal.
Stefanie Lee, Founder and Executive Director, Simplyshare
1. Hi, I’m Stefanie from SimplyShare, a student-led organisation aiming to not only raise awareness on poverty, but more importantly, to encourage proactivity. In Hong Kong, one in five people sit below the poverty line. With a Gini coefficient of 0.539, Hong Kong is the only developed city among the top 10 regions with greatest wealth disparity, ranked alongside Zambia and Mozambique. This is not just a topic worth knowing about; we need to take action. Join us in sharing our time and resources with the underprivileged - you’ll brighten someone’s day just that easily!
2. It was eye-opening to meet other youth changemakers and hear about various social issues, such as the environmental crisis and gender inequality. What makes the event special is that everyone is passionate about different topics, with a common goal of making this world a better place. By coming together and bringing our unique insights to the table, we raised awareness on our respective SDGs and sparked collaboration ideas. Moving forward, we will continue to organise volunteer events and expand our community. I’m also looking forward to partnering with fellow youth-led initiatives to turn awareness into action!
3. SimplyShare is always open for collaboration on events as well as long-term partnerships! For regular infographics and volunteer opportunities, feel free to check out our website https://simplyshare.carrd.co/ or our Instagram https://www.instagram.com/_simplyshare_/. Keep an eye out for team recruitments too!
Reese Wong, Co-Founder and President, ISSIA HK
1. SDG 17. Partnerships for the goals is one of the most overlooked and seemingly amorphous goals. I argue that it is best encapsulated by the saying "the whole is more than the sum of its parts". In fact, it is a necessary condition. We can no longer act in "silos" and isolated pockets. We need to synergize and acknowledge the intersectionality of SDGs; create movements. We need to democratize and popularize changemaking. This requires a paradigm shift towards truly inclusive multi stakeholder collaboration. My organization, ISSIA HK, seeks to empower young changemakers by providing a platform for capacity building and the cultivation of social consciousness. I'm also working on a project to create 'influencers for change', where SDG education can be popularized.
2. It has been truly amazing to see the diversity of SDG initiatives and organizations present in Hong Kong. The passion and initiative of my fellow changemakers highlights the unique role young people can play in contributing to the social good.
3. Feel free to find me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/reesewong8/
I’m currently looking for partners to help take my organizations to the next level!