HKU Hong Kong Lab

The Centre for Civil Society and Governance (CCSG) at The University of Hong Kong joined LabGov and established the HKU Lab in 2021, extending the LabGov network to the Asia Pacific region. LabGov Hong Kong, steered by Professor Wai Fung LAM, is an effort to integrate CCSG’s work on sustainability with the urban commons’ framework and design methodology with a view to better understanding and promoting a community-based approach to sustainability at both the local and international levels. 

CCSG was established in December 2002, and was the first research centre in Hong Kong dedicated to enhancing our knowledge of civil society—its nature, constituents, dynamics, roles (in particular its contribution toward governance)—and to contributing to the attainment of a sustainable society through forging community-based, innovative solutions to inform policy deliberation and collective action.

The work of CCSG is grounded upon an appreciation of, and a commitment to, a knowledge-based approach to collaborating and engaging with the community in pursuit of a sustainable future for all. Through our impact projects, we develop and experiment policy actions and solutions to cope with policy challenges and to induce systemic changes leading to sustainable development.

The Projects

Rural Sustainability

The HSBC Rural Sustainability Project was launched in 2013 with the goal of building and leveraging the resources and capacities of diverse communities of interests in Hong Kong in pursuit of village revitalization and sustainability. The Project identifies rural assets and resources for shared use among villagers and city dwellers, and introduces principles and practices of co-governance for the management and use of rural resources. The Lai Chi Wo Village, located in the north-eastern part of Hong Kong and had been deserted for decades, provided a good venue for studying and experimenting the concept and practices of commoning.

The Project has recently been awarded the inaugural Special Recognition for Sustainable Development in the 2020 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. Building upon the award-winning model, CCSG has implemented a “village cluster” strategy to scale up the model’s impact through enhancing the complementarity and synergy of rural revitalization efforts of Lai Chi Wo and villages in the vicinity. The model has also provided the foundation for another scaling up effort—the HSBC Rural Sustainability Programme – APAC Initiative for Regional Impact (AIRI) Project—which, in collaboration with major universities from Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Mainland China, seeks to build a knowledge platform for the study and practice of collaborative governance of commons in the peri-urban context.

Community Well-Being and Wholeness

This Project is a collaborative effort between CCSG, a major real-estate developer in Hong Kong, and several nonprofits in social services and the environment to co-develop a framework and networked strategy for making social change. A local district characterized by a combination of mature residential neighbourhoods and redeveloped high-end shopping mall and office buildings has been chosen as the site for experimenting a community currency scheme and various community-building programmes.

The Project strives to identify the necessary and enabling conditions for a local social economy which can help meet such urban challenges as a lack of high quality green space for social interaction, and insufficient child care service at the neighbourhood level. A sustainability assessment methodology will be developed alongside with the framework for community currency to measure the social impact attained.

Incubation of Social Entreptreneurship

There has been substantial interest in the circles of social entrepreneurs in the concept of the commons, which is broadly defined as solidarity-based collective endeavors to manage shared resources with a special regard for equitable access and use and long-term stewardship.  Social entrepreneurs worldwide have experimented and embarked on social innovation programs drawing upon a commoning approach to tackle social problems. We believe that an enhanced toolkit for social entrepreneurship, with a strong focus on commoning, holds the key to generating and scaling up social changes into social impact. The Social Innovations for Sustainable Communities project aims to develop and incubate social innovations that not only provide incentives for the generation of both economic and social/environmental values, but also nurture collaboration, trust and social capital in local communities. Similar incubation efforts have also been made by another project of CCSG, namely Partnership for Sustainability Leadership, which provides opportunities to large corporations and SMEs to co-learn and co-create knowledge for business sustainability.

In an effort to better harvest the knowledge obtained from various action projects, the Academy for Sustainable Communities was established in 2018 to provide a learning platform for potential change-makers to enrol in various sustainability-related courses and workshops ranging from handicraft workshops targeting members of the general public, to professional certificate programmes catering for industry practitioners.

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