Civic Exchange is an independent Hong Kong-based public policy think tank that was established in September 2000. With the vision to build a sustainable and liveable Hong Kong, Civic Exchange undertakes research on the development of environment, economic, social and political issues to advance civic education and engage society to shape public policy.
What We Do
“Thinking”, Research & Stakeholders Engagement
As a public policy think tank, much of our work is thinking about public policies and how we can help to make sense of complex issues and find better solutions to challenges and problems.
We would like our research papers to help reframe policy debates and help policy makers make the right choices by providing the tools and information they need. Very often, it is important and useful to be able to provide solid background information on specific subjects for general and stakeholder groups so that they could have in one place a comprehensive document about the issue at hand. From that base, it becomes possible to introduce alternative perspectives and solutions. While much of our effort is on original research, we also synthesize other people’s good ideas since there is no need to reinvent the wheel each time. We look for worldwide examples to find good ideas, which may be adapted for local and regional conditions.
We also integrate stakeholder-learning as well as consensus-building workshops as part of our “thinking”, research and dialogue process since it is vital to leverage everyone’s ability to make better choices. These processes also help people to focus and reflect on the most critical issues.
For social change to take place, we need to operate on many levels. Whilst our research papers and workshops are important, it is also essential to be able to put ideas directly to decision-makers in the public and private sectors. Our influence comes through long cultivated connections with public sector officials, politicians, business leaders, NGOs, educators and decision-makers in other fields.
Our strategy is to influence them directly. We have provided private briefings to them as well as to leaders on the international stage. Our work and activities are designed to produce multiple results. Firstly, they enable us to see how things work, or don’t work, in practice, which enables us to give better policy advice on how to do things better. Secondly, the way we design our research projects give us opportunities to work with many organizations, which is an effective way of influencing them. Thirdly, they are excellent public education projects in themselves.
We are often invited to create dialogue processes for specific issues as well as sectors. We apply a set of skills, which we call ‘Sustainability Tools’ designed to enhance communication. Those who wish to involve us understand our mission and strengths and wish to involve us in developing private and public dialogue processes or to use us to generate new ideas for change. These experiences help us enormously to refine our ideas and methodologies. Indeed, they have helped to spark new ones on several occasions.
Civic Exchange has designed and facilitated multistakeholder dialogue processes on transport, urban design, conservation, sustainable development, and competition issues, and has worked with many sectors focussing on specific matters.
Board of Directors
Mr Stephen Brown
Mr Stephen Brown was born in England and grew up there, graduating with a Degree in Urban Estate Management from Reading University before his career in stock broking with Cazenove & Co. in London. After moving to Hong Kong in 1983 as a Director of Vickers da Costa, he spent much of the ensuing two decades in the industry, including periods as Head of Asian Equity at Morgan Stanley and running leading equity research departments both with a Hong Kong and regional focus, with, given his interests at undergraduate level, a particular emphasis on the real estate market. After his career in stock broking he then gained direct experience of the local property market by working as Group General Manager of Sino Land and for the last five years has been working with Hong Kong based Noble Group as Director – Corporate Affairs. Stephen is also Deputy Chairman of the Listing Committee of the Main Board and Growth Enterprise Market of The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited, and a member of the Securities and Futures Commission’s Dual Filing Advisory Group.
Ms Annie Chen
Ms. Annie Chen is the Chair of RS Group, a family office with a focus on sustainability. RS Groups makes investments and grants following a “blended value” approach that ensures its total portfolio can make a lasting and positive impact for future generations.
Annie believes that one of the most pressing challenges of our time is moving the planet and its inhabitants towards sustainability. To align her values with her investments, she has committed her financial resources to socially and environmentally responsible investing. Annie also dedicates her time and resources toward social and environmental causes with the potential for generating positive systemic change and sustainable development. Believing the potential for change through social entrepreneurship, Annie is working to enhance the development of social entrepreneurship in Hong Kong and Asia. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Annie obtained her BA from Brown University and her LLB from Columbia Law School.
Ms Lisa Genasci
Ms Lisa Genasci is the CEO and founder of ADM Capital Foundation (ADMCF), established five years ago for the partners of a Hong Kong-based investment manager. With a staff of eight, ADMCF provides support to some of Asia’s most marginalized children and works to combat intransigent environmental challenges. ADMCF has built innovative initiatives involving holistic support to slum and street children, water, air pollution, deforestation and marine conservation. Before working in the non-profit sector, Lisa spent ten years at the Associated Press, three as a correspondent based in Rio de Janeiro, three on the AP foreign desk in New York and four as a financial reporter. Lisa holds a BA degree with High Honors from Smith College and an LLM in Human Rights Law from Hong Kong University.
Ms Gladys Li, SC, JP
Ms Gladys Li has been on the Board of Civic Exchange since 2005. She is currently a practising barrister. She and Christine Loh go back to the days when they were both members of a lobby group set up in the late 1980s which was deeply concerned with the transition of sovereignty of Hong Kong from the British to the PRC. Former Chairman of the Hong Kong Bar Association and a Founder Member of Civic Party, she is most interested in how the citizens of Hong Kong can and should participate in decision-making by government and how planning affects every aspect of day-to-day life in Hong Kong.
Dr Anthony Ng
Dr Anthony Ng was born in Hong Kong, where he received his primary and secondary education. He left to study abroad in 1966. He received his BSc degree from McGill University and his MD and MPH degrees from Tulane University, New Orleans, USA. He then received his surgery training in the United State, New Zealand and England. He joined the University Surgical Unit of Hong Kong University Medical School in 1979. He started his private practice group in 1986. He has retired from active practice since 2012. Since returning to Hong Kong, he has taken an interest in community affairs.
Ms Kylie Uebergang
Ms Kylie Uebergang has worked with Civic Exchange since March 2002 as Chief Financial Officer (CFO). On 6 September 2012 Kylie became a board member of Civic Exchange. After qualifying as an Australian Chartered Accountant Kylie previously worked with Ernst & Young in Hong Kong and PricewaterhouseCoopers (formerly Price Waterhouse) in Vancouver and Melbourne. In conjunction with her CFO role she has in the past worked as Project Manager on a number of significant air pollution projects as well as undertaken research on cultural heritage and sustainable building techniques in Hong Kong. Kylie also Co-founded and is the Executive Director of a local charity called PathFinders which was established in late 2007. PathFinders ensures migrant children born in Hong Kong have a fair start in life. Through freeing them from danger and ensuring they have access to shelter, medical services and documentation, PathFinders empowers their mothers to find a safe and legal way home. PathFinders strives to ensure that migrants who become unexpectedly pregnant while working in Hong Kong, are treated fairly so that they can continue to work, protect their children and maintain their support of Hong Kong’s family, cultural and economic foundations. Born in Australia, Kylie and her partner moved to Hong Kong in 1999.
Mr Winston Ka-Sun Chu
Winston Ka-Sun Chu graduated from the Laws Faculty of UCL in 1960. He practiced as a solicitor since 1964 and also taught law in The University of Hong Kong. He served as an adviser to various departments of the Hong Kong Government and sat on various Government committees including the Town Planning Board. As the Founder and Chairman of the Society for Protection of the Harbour and the author of the Protection of the Harbour Ordinance, he instituted three judicial reviews which successfully curtailed the Government’s plans for extensive harbour reclamation. He has been a Visiting Professor of the Faculty of Laws and the Bartlett School of the Built Environment of UCL since 1995 and an Honorary Fellow since 2002.
Mr Robert J Gibson
Mr Peter J Thompson, OBE, JP
Mr Peter Thompson was the Chairman of the Hong Kong Port and Maritime Board, having previously been Chairman of its predecessor, the Hong Kong Port Development Board. He had been a Member of the Port Development Board since its inception in 1990 and served as Chairman of its Mid-Stream Operations Committee and its Lantau Port Liaison Group. Peter qualified as a Solicitor in England in 1962 and in Hong Kong in 1964. In July 1964, he joined the leading Hong Kong law firm of Johnson Stokes & Master and was the Senior Partner between 1985 and 1989. He practiced maritime law throughout his time with Johnson Stokes. In May 1993, Peter left Johnson Stokes & Master after 29 years with the firm and, for three years, was with the Hong Kong office of the New York based law firm, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy. He was admitted to the New York Bar in 1988. Peter is a Notary Public and Justice of the Peace. In 1985 he was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws by the University of Hull, England. He was a Member of the Council of the Academy for Performing Arts for over 10 years from 1990. He was Vice Chairman of the Hong Kong Shipowners Association for eight years and was a member of the Steering Group which advised the Government on the establishment of the new Hong Kong Shipping Register. He has sat on several other governmental and quasi-governmental bodies. In the 1995 New Year’s Honours List, Peter was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and was awarded the Silver Bauhinia Star (SBS) by the Hong Kong Government.