With urbanisation progressing at an exponential rate and the Earth pushed to its limits by relentless exploration and consumption of natural resources in pursuit of developed lifestyles, climate change and global warming are now critical issues for the world at large. In Hong Kong, the government and numerous organisations are working hard on conservation-related issues and awareness-raising. Yet for alumnus Dr William Yu Yuen-ping, Chief Executive Officer of World Green Organisation, environmental protection needs to go beyond traditional values like “less consumption”, “waste reduction” and “recycling”. To evolve into sustainable development, he believes, conservation must be integrated with the economy and people’s livelihoods.
From multinational to environmental NGO
Dr Yu graduated from CityU with a BA (Hons) in International Business (First Class). He worked in multinational companies for more than 10 years. Then, at the peak of his business career, he decided to embrace a new challenge: a PhD in Energy and Environment at the University of Cambridge. In the course of a few years, Dr Yu morphed from an executive into an expert on energy, environment and climate.
Before heading to Cambridge, Dr Yu made a promise: “I had seen how the energy crisis has precipitated global warming,” he said. “When I come back, I told myself, I want to contribute to the well-being of the planet.”
Alleviation of poverty amid conservation
On his return to Hong Kong, Dr Yu thus became fully engaged in conservation, initially as Head of the Climate Programme at the World Wide Fund for Nature. A highlight of his four-year stay at the non-governmental organisation (NGO) was inspiring the widespread adoption of the international Earth Hour initiative in Hong Kong to emphasise the need for energy saving among companies and individuals.
In 2012, he founded his own NGO, World Green Organisation, to put his vision of conservation into practice. “Traditional views on environmental protection have become obsolete,” Dr Yu noted. “I started my own organisation to raise awareness of more contemporary concepts in Hong Kong, such as carbon emissions, carbon footprints, and energy poverty.”
Dr Yu terms his own organisation a provider of environmental solutions rather than a pressure group. He visits grassroots communities to understand their lives and needs. He also donates energy-saving appliances, daily necessities and food to “energy-poor families”, protecting the planet on the one hand, and helping to improve people’s lives on the other.
Wiser allocation of society’s resources could easily reduce today’s wasteful ways, Dr Yu noted. With the prospect of soaring healthcare expenditure to cope with the city’s ageing society, for example, he organised the Green WALK Hong Kong event in 2016 to urge people to walk more to enhance their health and decrease carbon emissions.
With his international business degree and wide-ranging experience in multinational corporations, Dr Yu is also well equipped to understand corporate concerns when designing conservation programmes and helping to publicise sustainable activities. “Conservation is no longer an independent agenda item but one that requires joint expertise and input from a variety of fields and perspectives to make a significant and effective impact,” he said.
In addition to his CEO role at World Green Organisation, Dr Yu currently works as an Adjunct Professor at CityU, teaching business ethics, sustainable risk management and related subjects to draw attention to environmental protection issues. “This is another type of cross-sector collaboration!” he said.
環保新一頁 – 跨界別合作
校友訪問 – 余遠騁博士
現今城市發展急速，天然資源不斷被開採和耗用，導致全球暖化問題日益嚴重。因此，綠色生活成為時下熱門議題，政府及各界都致力推廣環保。可是，世界綠色組織 (WGO) 行政總裁余遠騁博士卻認為環保不再只是局限於傳統的理念，如「減少使用」、「物盡其用」和「循環再用」，他認為要達致可持續發展，必須將環保、經濟及民生三者合而為一。
Dr William Yu Yuen-ping
BA in International Business Studies,
Chief Executive Officer,
World Green Organisation
Dr Yu (left), Mr Wong Kam-sing (centre), JP, Secretary for the Environment, and Mr Lo Bing-chung (right), Director (Corporate Communications and External Relations) at The Link, donate food at the “Linking Food Waste with Love – From the Golden Age to the Greens” launch ceremony.
余博士（左）、環境局局長黃錦星先生, JP（中），及領展企業傳訊及對外關係總監盧炳松先生（右）於領展「愛‧匯聚計劃」的「食物送出愛 – 長幼共融新鮮食物捐贈計劃」啟動禮上捐贈食物。
Dr Yu calling on government offcials and departments to work together to make Hong Kong a liveable and healthy city at Green WALK Hong Kong 2016.
Dr William Yu (third left) takes part in the first annual Green WALK Hong Kong, with primary school students and other participants in Central.