LU’s ESG education strategy fuel development in GBA and beyond
Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), representing criteria for running private and public organisations responsibly and sustainably, have become increasingly important.
In China, recent national and regional initiatives suggest the government’s clear commitment to environmental improvement and a low-carbon economy, which should create many exciting opportunities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA), enhanced by ESG awareness.
In recent years, the HKSAR Government has adopted a multi-pronged approach to promoting sustainable development while achieving economic growth, including setting up the Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) and the Council for Sustainable Development.
Prof Wu Feng, Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Accountancy points out that as China moves towards achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2060, the GBA is proving a testing ground for new policy and product innovations, and will bring in global capital to fund the transition and connecting carbon trading platforms.
“Infrastructure for clean, low-emission transport and logistics will also be provided. More and more companies and investors recognise the growing importance of incorporating ESG into their investment goals,” explains Prof Wu, whose research area spans climate change, carbon emissions, data security, board diversity, labour protection, corporate governance, and ESG disclosures, and their actual effects on economic activities.
“These movements respond to the increasing investor demand for information on how companies manage their ESG risks and contribute to effective ESG management,” he adds.
To respond to this wave of development, Lingnan has been introducing and refining courses and programmes to equip students with the latest and most relevant skills and mindsets.
In the Faculty of Business alone, there are 35 undergraduate business courses and six taught postgraduate courses touching on ESG topics. “The coverage of ESG in business education reflects the currency of our programmes, an indication that the Faculty is committed to training future leaders in sustainability to enable them to face the world’s most complex challenges,” says Prof Leng Mingming, Dean of the Faculty of Business.
The students are expected to be ethical decision-makers, to use ESG factors, and to be able to solve challenging problems they will face in their future workplace.
In his research, Prof Wu has accumulated valuable experience in ESG, and helped the University to introduce ESG factors into its postgraduate and undergraduate education. That includes a newly proposed, one-year full-time taught posgraduate programme — Master of Science in Environmental, Social and Governance Management (MScESGM), which will teach students the theoretical framework for and best practices of ESG management in business.
The programme follows last year’s successful new Concentration in Environment and Sustainability for the Master of Cities and Governance programme, which equips students with the practical skills and understanding needed to tackle the huge challenges facing today’s megacities and regions.
“The course teaches students to advise companies on how to use ESG criteria in their strategies,” says Prof Paulina Wong, Concentration Programme Director and Assistant Professor of the Science Unit, adding that the intensive climate change course gives students practical knowledge in communication.
Topics are approached from an international and regional perspective, with emphasis on inter-disciplinary training, giving graduates an advantage when applying for jobs in global affairs, city management, and public administration in both developed and developing economic regions, including the GBA.
“There is an increasing demand for professional services related to ESG in the GBA,” Prof Wu agrees. “Examples of these services include, but are not limited to, asset management, environmental assessments, audits, urban planning, and smart city development. In this way, experts and specialists may be attracted by the GBA’s excellent green infrastructure working opportunities, where there will be many professional and analytical openings.”
Over time, the University will incorporate more ESG elements in its teaching and learning, student affairs and social engagement projects, as well as in its governance, since sustainability is key to its strategic planning.