Philanthropy for Better Cities Forum 2018

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The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust

The Role of Philanthropy in Building a Sustainable City

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 September, 2018, 4:04pm
UPDATED : Friday, 14 September, 2018, 4:03pm

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Global urbanisation is creating new opportunities for cities —and serious challenges as well. Seeking winning solutions to help build better cities, The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust is convening the Philanthropy for Better Cities Forum 2018. The Forum will provide a public platform to address pressing metropolitan social issues. Renowned speakers will share, amongst other issues, their thoughts on sustainable development under the inevitable trend of urbanisation.

Building on the foundation laid down by the successful 2016 inaugural Forum—this year's Forum will continue to challenge the audience for the best possible ideas for creating a better urban environment for all of us. Five thematic topics will be discussed at the Forum, namely: Leveraging the Market, Sustainable Development, Maximising Impact, Youth and Creativity, plus Health and Well-being.

Sustainable Development has long been a fascinating discussion topic across disciplines. It is therefore appropriate that it is among the five thematic areas of the 2018 Forum. A dozen expert speakers will address this key issue.

Challenges of rapidly growing cities

As the hotbed of innovation and creativity, and the centres for civilisation and entertainment, urban spaces are often associated with opportunities and progress. Yet, the mega-cities which have been growing rapidly across continents are often seen as a double-sided sword. The United Nations notes that "extreme poverty is often concentrated in urban spaces, while national and city governments struggle to accommodate the rising population in these areas."

While various ideas have been floated to make cities sustainable—including ensuring access to safe and affordable housing, investment in public transport, creating green public spaces and improving urban planning—there are nevertheless initiatives that are positioned low on the priority chart in any government efforts. Furthermore, there is always the challenge of limited government funds.

The somewhat overlooked areas are the gaps of the pledge to sustainable cities, and there emerge philanthropists to tackle the issues. On the thematic area ‘Sustainable Development’, a plenary session will bring together speakers from some of the most trusted and respected foundations around the world for the topic discussion Cities and Foundations: How can foundations plug gaps in government efforts to build sustainable cities?

The highly anticipated plenary session will analyse where, when and how philanthropists can best support government efforts to build sustainable cities. This session will evaluate the different partnership models that can be used in these settings and put forward solutions to common hurdles faced by philanthropists in these settings.

Top speakers to share best possible experiences

Scheduled to speak at the session are James Rooney, Senior Fellow of The Boston Foundation of the highly influential civic convener, The Boston Foundation; Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, President and CEO of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo; and Robert Rosen, Director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.



This plenary session is only one of the thought-provoking discussions on the thematic area, which will also feature wide-ranging discussions such as urbanisation and the creation of the paradox of unsustainable practices and growing social consciousness—plus the environment and the role of cities in tackling climate change.

The session Attaining Sustainable Development Goals in Cities: Is urbanisation helping or hampering their progress? will explore what philanthropists can do to give cities the best chance of contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) put forward by the United Nations. This session will reflect on the best practices that cities can adopt, and common pitfalls to be avoided across the political, economic and social transformations that come with urbanisation, which has sped up immensely in many developing countries.

Meanwhile, speakers will also discuss the various roles to which philanthropy can contribute - both in the public and private sectors - in mitigating and adapting society to the issue of climate change, as well as in making communities more resilient through their grant-making role on the topic discussion The Environment: Are we afraid of fighting climate change?

Cross-disciplinary discussions

The Closing Dialogue: Where is the next source of hidden value? is yet another eagerly awaited session. Assisted by the Jockey Club’s Executive Director of Charities & Community, Leong Cheung, this conversation will include two Nobel laureates, to reflect on the areas where large pools of social value are not being addressed by institutions and markets effectively.

Nobel Economic Prize laureate Professor James J. Heckman from the University of Chicago and Peace Prize laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus will explore which of these areas should be prioritised, and the models that can be used to mobilise capital and activity towards them.

Some 60 distinguished speakers, including the influential political philosophy Professor Michael J. Sandel from Harvard University, Gold Medal winner Michael Phelps, former NBA player Yao Ming, as well as other renowned academia, government officials, enablers and influencers, will also speak at the 2018 Forum.

  Being the first discussion of its kind in Asia to focus on metropolitan social issues, the Forum will take place on September 20-21 at The Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. It will offer philanthropists, social entrepreneurs, policy-makers, academia and NGOs from around the world a platform to exchange views, and assist cross-sector collaboration and cultivate long-term partnerships and engagement.

This is undoubtedly a must-not-miss opportunity to meet over 1,000 international delegates from the philanthropy sector to exchange views on the most urgent social needs of 21st century cities.


Philanthropy for Better Cities Forum