Urban Commons @ CCSG

Centre for Civil Society and Governance joined LabGov in 2021 and has extended the LabGov network to the Asia Pacific region. LabGov Hong Kong, steered by Professor Wai-Fung LAM, hopes to integrate the Centre’s work on sustainability with the urban commons’ framework and design methodology for knowledge exchange and experiment at both the local and international levels. 

  • What could be learnt from action cases in Hong Kong and in the Asia Pacific region that could supplement the conventional western perspective of commons, in terms of the similarity and difference in the design principles, attributes and other enabling factors of commons?
  • What would be the appropriate commons framework and approaches for the attainment of sustainability and climate justice? Special references would be made to common pool resources management in the peri-urban context and the new and transitioning roles of urban dwellers and rural communities?
  • Commoning is grounded upon a participatory approach where collaboration and participation between and among different players and stakeholders in the society are the pre-requisite. What makes an effective commoning and how would commoning be effectively incubated?

Rural Sustainability

The HSBC Rural Sustainability programme was launched in 2013 with the goal to incubate and harvest the interests and resources of the community of interests for village revitalization and enhancement of the overall well-being of the society at large. Intersecting social and ecological sustainability, the project identifies rural assets and resources for shared use among villagers and city dwellers and it introduces principles and practice of co-governance for the wise use and management of some of these resources. New roles are explored and established for urban actors in the rural setting, and vice versa. Lai Chi Wo Village, located at the north-eastern part of Hong Kong and was deserted for decades, provided the venue for the experiment of the concepts and approaches of commons.

The revitalization model 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, the project team has started testing the scaling up models and has been implementing the idea of “village cluster” among Lai Chi Wo and other villages in the vicinity where network of experience and resources is created. The revitalization model and principles also provided a solid foundation for another scaling up experiment of platform building with universities from Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Mainland China to coalescing regional experience and practice and nurturing collaborative action model for peri-urban integration.

Community Well-being and Wholeness

The project unites a real estate developer, the most resourceful private business in cities, with the knowledge institution (CCSG) and some social and environmental nonprofits to co-develop a framework and networked strategy for social change. The real estate developer is seen as a private agent for attaining positive social impact. A physical location comprised of aging and mature neighbourhoods and redeveloped high-end shopping mall and office buildings is chosen for the field-experiment of community currency.

The project explores the necessary conditions and enablers for an effective system of local currency to alleviate urban challenges. Identified challenges include the lack of high quality green space for social interaction, insufficient child care service provision at the neighbourhood level, etc. A sustainability assessment methodology will also be developed alongside with the framework for community currency as an attempt to measure the social impact attained.

Incubation of Social Entrepreneurship

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 that draw upon a commoning approach to social entrepreneurship to tackle social problems. We believe that an enhanced toolkit for social entrepreneurship, with a stronger focus on commoning, holds the key to generating and scaling up changes into social impact. The Social Innovations for Sustainable Communities focuses to develop social innovations that will coalesce into a new social economy that not only provides incentives for the generation of both economic and social/environmental values, but also nurtures collaboration, trust and social capital in social-economic processes.

The same incubation attempt has also been incorporated in two other projects of the Centre, namely Partnership for Sustainability Leadership in Business and APAC Initiative for Regional Impact. The former offers opportunities to large corporations and SMEs to co-learn and co-create knowledge for business sustainability while the latter is a scaling up model for the HSBC Rural Sustainability programme at the regional level with universities being recruited as the intermediaries providing incubation and training programmes to individuals who are committed to attain rural 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 with various sustainability-related courses and workshops ranging from recycled wood handicraft workshop for general public to coffee’s value chain certificate programme for industry practitioners.

Misinformation Policy Manager, Asia Pacific, Facebook

Jenna is a Product Policy Manager on Facebook’s Misinformation Policy team. She specialises in global health misinformation and misinformation in the Asia-Pacific region, and is based in Singapore.

Product Policy Manager, Inauthentic Behavior, Facebook

Sam Traynor is the Product Policy manager for Inauthentic behavior at Facebook. For almost the last decade he has been working in the integrity space in variety of roles and companies mainly focusing on protecting user voice, the authenticity of conversations, and the integrity of the civic process.

Head of Content Regulation, Asia Pacific, Facebook

Meg Chang is the Content Regulation Policy Lead for Facebook in the APAC region. Prior to this role, she was an Elections Manager and led Facebook’s election integrity efforts across EMEA, including the European Elections, the UK general election, and the Polish parliamentary and presidential elections, among many others. Before Facebook, she was the head of operations and publisher at EUobserver, a Brussels-based EU political and investigative news outlet. She also worked as a management consultant for Global 1000 companies in North America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region. She studied politics and law at the University of Kent in the UK.

Public Policy Research Manager, Data for Good, Facebook

Alex Pompe is a Research Manager on Facebook’s Data for Good team. This team builds privacy-protecting data sets to aid response work for natural disasters and public health crises (here is a recent example from the COVID19 response: https://research.fb.com/blog/2020/06/protecting-privacy-in-facebook-mobility-data-during-the-covid-19-response/). Previously, Alex led the growth team at a startup scaling the company to 35 countries over 3 years. Prior to this he worked on access to information and Internet programs for 6 years at an international NGO called IREX; first in Ukraine, next in Namibia, and then in Washington DC. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching mathematics in Namibia from 2006 to 2008. Alex holds a BS in physics from the University of Illinois, and an MS from the University of Michigan (where he also taught astrophysics.) He has served as a guest lecturer for the University of Maryland’s School of Information.

Public Policy Manager, Hong Kong, Facebook

Head of Privacy and Data Policy, Asia Pacific, Facebook

Raina is the Head of Privacy and Data Policy, Engagement, APAC for Facebook. She is a lawyer by training and is a former regulator, having previously worked at the Hong Kong Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data in the position of Assistant Privacy Commissioner (Legal, Policy & Research). Prior to joining the Hong Kong data protection authority, Raina had extensive legal in-house experience and held management positions in both Hong Kong and Shanghai. She served as the Assistant Chief Counsel – Head of Legal at Hong Kong Disneyland and was the Deputy Chief Counsel – Head of Legal at Shanghai Disney Resort during the initial construction stage of the project when she helped set up the legal function at the Shanghai Disney Resort. Raina held a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) degree from the University of Melbourne, Australia.

Assistant Professor, Department of Politics and Public Administration, The University of Hong Kong

Dr. Chan’s primary research concerns the institutions that shape the consumption and distortion of information in different organizational settings. His current research explores how bureaucrats handle information and the impact of institutions on their choices.

Ongoing projects deal with different aspects of bureaucratic control in authoritarian regimes, such as administrative oversight, juridical intervention, internal reporting, and legislative decision-making.

He holds a PhD Degree in Public Policy from the O’Neill School of Public and Environment Affairs and the Department of Political Science, Indiana University Bloomington.

Deputy Director and Principal Lecturer, Centre for Civil Society and Governance

Dr Winnie Law is the Deputy Director and Principal Lecturer at the Centre for Civil Society and Governance of The University of Hong Kong. She teaches undergraduate and postgraduate courses on sustainable development, community planning and environmental management. She also works with a team of researchers and conducts policy research, action research and knowledge exchange projects on rural revitalization, social innovation, community engagement and corporate sustainability. Dr Law has been a director of the Conservancy Association since 2005 and has served on a number of HKSAR Government’s advisory committees including Advisory Council for the Environment. At the regional level, Dr Law was commissioned by the EU and UNDP as a planning and social monitoring expert for their city planning and environmental management programmes in Vietnam. Dr Law was one of the invited speakers for the first TedxTongChongSt’s series on Hacking the Future and delivered a talk on Future of Sustainability in 2019.

Director, Centre for Civil Society and Governance

Wai-Fung (Danny) Lam is Director of the Centre for Civil Society and Governance (CCSG), and Professor in Public Administration at the University of Hong Kong. He finished his undergraduate study at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and received a Ph.D. in Public Policy from Indiana University, Bloomington. Professor Lam is an expert in common-pool resource management, institutional policy analysis, public governance, and civil society. His research has focused on the design of efficient institutional arrangements for the governance and management of public resources, a core issue in public administration and sustainable development. Professor Lam has served on the editorial committees of Public Administration Review (PAR), International Review of Administrative Sciences (IRAS), Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis (JCPA), Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly (NVSQ), and Asian Politics and Policy (APP), and is co-editor of The Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Administration (APJPA).

Director of Public Policy, Greater China, Mongolia, and Central Asia, Facebook

George Chen joined Facebook in January 2016 as the company’s first-ever policy representative based in Hong Kong, home for Facebook in the Greater China region. Currently as the Public Policy Director for Greater China, Mongolia, and Central Asia, George serves as Facebook’s “ambassador” to engage with the people and governments across the vast and diverse regions.

Prior to Facebook, George has worked in the media sector for about 15 years. George was a 2014 Yale World Fellow and a 2015 fellow of the US State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program. George is a doctoral candidate at the University of Hong Kong where he focuses his research on freedom of expression and misinformation.