A GREEN MA­CHINE

The Peak (Hong Kong) - - The View From The Peak -

Ev­ery year at The Peak, we ded­i­cate an is­sue to con­ser­va­tion. It’s an im­por­tant topic, one that’s dis­cussed from cam­pus hall­ways to cor­po­rate board­rooms. And while the world ob­sesses with one cri­sis af­ter an­other, whether it’s Kim Jong Un and Don­ald Trump play­ing nu­clear footsy (or any other Trump folly), China’s debt lev­els, Brexit or cur­rency woes, the drum­beat of news about en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion con­tin­ues, drowned out by the high pitch noise of cur­rent events.

Oc­ca­sion­ally, we are re­minded of cli­mate change when pre­vi­ously un­heard-of weather events oc­cur. Lux­u­ri­ous play­grounds in the Caribbean suf­fered twin blows when two Cat­e­gory 5 hur­ri­canes hit a num­ber of low-ly­ing is­land na­tions in rapid suc­ces­sion. Among the hard­est hit were the British Vir­gin Is­lands, a British over­seas ter­ri­tory home to one of the world’s big­gest off­shore cor­po­rate reg­istries. Run­ning off a gi­ant backup gen­er­a­tor, the is­land’s reg­istry was up again af­ter just two days; but most homes were ut­terly de­stroyed.

Florida was spared a dis­as­trous hit by Hur­ri­cane Irma, but only just. Had Irma turned north­wards a lit­tle ear­lier, Mi­ami, a city that has be­come a global mag­net for lux­ury prop­erty in­vestors, could well have been flooded be­yond recog­ni­tion. Hous­ton, a city that has pros­pered with the oil and gas in­dus­try, suf­fered se­vere flood­ing with Hur­ri­cane Har­vey.

Robert De­laney, SCMP’S New York con­trib­u­tor, in­ter­viewed John Wilmoth for this is­sue of The Peak. Wilmoth is the di­rec­tor of the United Na­tion’s Pop­u­la­tion Di­vi­sion and as such, is in charge of the world’s big­gest data­bases on global pop­u­la­tion trends. The num­bers, the cli­matic threats, and the busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties in global pop­u­la­tion trends, are stag­ger­ing. Africa and In­dia are poised to grow their pop­u­la­tions sig­nif­i­cantly – Africa alone is ex­pected to add an­other bil­lion peo­ple to the global pop­u­la­tion by 2040; some time af­ter 2040, Nige­ria is pro­jected to have more peo­ple than the United States. How de­vel­op­ment takes place in Africa could de­ter­mine the fate of the planet.

Closer to home we look at a hand­ful of Hong Kong ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists who’ve made sus­tain­able in­vest­ing their busi­ness. They look for green en­ter­prises in which to in­vest, and they are not only pleased with their num­bers, they’re pleased with their work.

We also hear this is­sue about a grow­ing trend in China to pre­serve his­toric build­ings. In the early years of China’s eco­nomic growth story, the an­cient and the nat­u­ral were bull­dozed to make way for in­fra­struc­ture, fac­to­ries and res­i­den­tial blocks. Now, in part thanks to Pres­i­dent Xi Jing­ping’s de­sire to see cul­tural preser­va­tion, there seems to be move­ment to­wards preser­va­tion that might see the last of China’s his­toric build­ings kept in place.

Fi­nally, in this is­sue we pro­file Dr Jonathan Choi, chair­man of the Sunwah Group. Choi is keen to take the mantle of Hong Kong superconnector, known al­ter­na­tively as “Mr ASEAN” and “Mr Belt and Road”. It stems from Choi’s de­sire to keep his com­pany low pro­file and build his own, pri­vate so­cial net­work. As Hong Kong moves to a new free trade re­la­tion­ship with ASEAN, Choi, whose fam­ily and com­pany have been do­ing busi­ness in Viet­nam for decades, is poised to see his for­tunes rise.

He is, he says, keen to help other Hong Kong busi­ness­men do the same.

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