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Very inspiring article. I hold the same belief as Adam that shared economy is a mega trend and can help address multiple SDGs concurrently across the globe. Having a supportive regulatory regime is vital to groom up-and-coming shared economy start-ups such as JustPark. Notwithstanding that Hong Kong has a close historical relationship with the U.K., Hong Kong’s currency regulatory framework does not allow companies like UBER or AirBnB to operate freely in the city. As an example,
over twenty UBER drivers were arrested by the Hong Kong police (due to absence of hire car permits and third-party insurance) in May 2017. While car pooling in Hong Kong is legal, the Road Traffic Regulation disallows the carriage of passengers for hire or reward without a permit. In a recent survey commissioned by the Sharing Economy Alliance, 70% of respondents in Hong Kong said the government was overly conservative and protective of vested interests in the context of promoting the sharing economy. It rated Hong Kong as lacking behind not only global leaders Singapore and Seoul, but also neighboring Shenzhen and Taipei, in terms of innovation and technology. In contrast, China is a global leader in peer-to-peer lending, accommodation and transport sectors, which largely benefit production and consumption and spur sustainable economic growth. In March 2016, Premier Li Keqiang praised the sharing economy sector and said it can energize the economy as a whole owing to its ability to optimize the use of idle resources. Hong Kong’s new chief executive Carrie Lam has established a Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Unit to actively review related policies and regulations. We are hopeful that Hong Kong can (through construction of “smart city” and public-private partnership etc) catchup and breakthrough on shared economy development.

The Case for Change

One of the concepts that struck me most vividly at the first workshop, and that I found most interesting when reading more about sustainable production and consumption, was the idea of a “sharing economy”. What I found particularly captivating is the thinking that businesses can focus their activities on fulfilling a user’s needs, rather than providing products or services that they believe users will require.

There have been significant changes to the macro landscape over the past 20 years which have set the scene for the sharing economy to develop. Firstly, there have been technological changes, such as the expansion of the internet leading to the ability to deliver services in new and innovative ways. Secondly, we have seen economic changes, including the financial market crash in 2008. Thirdly, there have been changes to the political environment, including recent developments such as Brexit, and finally social changes, as younger generations…

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Foodtech and sustainability

Fintech and Edutech are buzz words we hear a lot lately. In my mind, foodtech is becoming a major game changer in the sustainable production and consumption world. In recent years, I have been closely following some of the world’s leading food technology companies particularly those producing plant-based meats/eggs. That reminds me about opting for vegetarian dishes instead of beef/steak at Garden Restaurant during our first workshop at Robinson College. Hopefully, more vegetables and less meat can help reduce burden on carbon emissions! First movers such as Hampton Creek and Beyond Meat attempted to provide more sustainable and affordable alternatives to replace similar functionalities in egg/meat across an array of food. Celebrities like Bill Gates and Li Ka Shing are early investors. These startups have pushed global food giants such as Unilever and General Mills to step up R&D in sustainable food (albeit Unilever is already at the forefront of sustainability globally). CEO Tetrick claimed that Hampton Creek’s plant-based products are almost 50% cheaper than conventional chicken egg, which means this type of healthier and more environmentally-friendly food products can be enjoyed by mass market consumers in coming years. Earlier this year, Hampton Creek even announced the plan to develop lab-grown meat. They should be well received by consumers in Asia and Brazil etc given food safety is a hot topic in these geographies. Separately, I believe food and beverage that carry low GI (Glycemic Index) will be increasingly popular too. GI is a measure of the blood glucose-raising potential of the carbohydrate content of a food. Simply put, low GI food can potentially reduce risks of diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and obseity which are key healthcare threats in both the developed and developing world. To conclude, consumers can expect to see much more creative + green + inexpensive food products on the shelves of specialty food retailers going forward. Have you tried a Just Mayo egg as yet?