Our Mission is to Save Nature and Combat Climate Change

On 22 February, Charles Bedford of The Nature Conservancy will discuss China’s leading role in combating global climate change.

Climate change is a particularly difficult issue for all elected officials to tackle. As the harm often occurs outside of the tenure of their service, they are often reluctant to address it. An interesting advantage that a one-party system, like China’s, has over others is that it can act more nimbly and plan further forward when confronted with an issue like climate change. China is committed to their own climate goals, the critical need to address climate change globally, and a commitment to a consensus-driven approach.

China has led the world on solar and hydro energy development and is now looking at ways to diminish the impact of these cleaner energy alternatives. Similarly, China has led the world’s largest reforestation program over the last 20 years and has the experience and science to share on the best ways to reforest degraded lands to capture carbon and drive economies. It has a lot to offer its neighbours—near and far, on decarbonizing our energy and capturing carbon in the forests.

Charles Bedford will discuss where China is a frontrunner in climate change, and where the nation can improve. He will also discuss business’ responsibility and take questions from members and guests on the challenges and opportunities of working with NGOs.

Charles Bedford is the Regional Managing Director for The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Asia Pacific Region. Based in Hong Kong, Charles works closely with TNC country program leaders across Asia to identify and advance essential marine, freshwater and land conservation priorities and projects. He also focuses on working with the region’s business and government leadership on next-generation conservation solutions that will benefit both nature and people.

Why Do Companies Still Make the Same Mistakes?

On Friday, 4 November the members and guests of Asia Insight Circle will hear from Caroline Sapriel, founder of CS&A, a specialist crisis management firm.

Recent crisis examples show us the fragility of what we have been taught. Are we forgetting these lessons when faced with the pressures of crises? Is the stress so great that primary reactions prevail? Do we let quick fixes obscure long term sustained credibility objectives? What happens to the corporate values and principles we display in the lobbies of our of office buildings?

For decades, crisis management has been institutionalized and taught at universities. Corporations and businesses have procedures in place. So why are some still making the same mistakes when facing a crisis?

Caroline Sapriel is the founder and Managing Partner of CS&A, a specialist risk and crisis and business continuity management consulting firm with offices in Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Belgium, The Netherlands, Singapore, and the United States. With over 25 years’ experience in risk and crisis management, Caroline is recognized as a leader in her profession and acknowledged for her ability to provide customized, results-driven counsel at the highest level.

She has been directly involved in helping clients manage crises in the oil and gas, chemical, transport, shipping, aviation, pharmaceutical and consumer product sectors.

Honouring Russia’s Paramount Leader

On Friday, members and guests of Asia Insight Circle hear first-hand accounts of the establishment of the Yeltsin Center in central Russia, and the benefits of investing in and doing business with companies in the Yural Mountain region.

Alexander Drozdov is Chairman of the Yeltsin Fund and The Boris Yeltsin Presidential Center, a not-for-profit organization that promotes the institution of the Russian presidency and the development of civil society, democratic institutions and the rule of law. The Yeltsin Center was founded in 2009 in Ekaterinburg, Russia.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Drozdov was editor of Komsomolskaya Pravda, a Russian broadsheet newspaper, formerly the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It was one of the most influential papers in the country with a circulation of 11 million.

Eduard Rossel – Honorable Senator Eduard Rossel is an iconic figure in modern Russia. Close friend to the First President of Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin and one of the most effective political leaders in the history of Russian Federation.

Members learned about the establishment of The Yeltsin Center, including the Yeltsin Presidential Library and Museum – a first for Russia. They heard first-hand tales from the transition of Russia to a democracy from leaders of the time. Speak with the professionals working to continue Russia’s economic development.


L to R – Walter Jennings (Huawei), Alexander Drozdov (Yeltsin Center), Senator Eduard Rossel (Upper House, Parliament of Russia), Roman Proskuriakov (Transnational Innovations)

China Health Reform: WHO

On Friday, March 10th 2016, Asia Insight Circle convened for its monthly private discussion in one of Hong Kong’s exclusive restaurants, Arcane. Asia Insight Circle was honoured to host a distinguished guest in Dr. Bernhard Schwartlander, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative China. Dr. Schwartlander was gracious in sharing his insights on the most important health issues facing China and how the WHO is actively engaging the Chinese Government as well as the Chinese population in tackling these issues, to improve the health and healthcare in the world’s second largest economy.

According to Dr. Schwartlander, we are in the midst of the world’s largest health reform project, turning a dysfunctional system to one that can provide quality health care to an enormous population. In China, 70 million people live in poverty and 40% of the poverty is due to health. The Chinese Government has declared their goal of lifting the 70 million above the poverty line by 2020, the goal arguably realistic or not is closely tied to the improvement of individual health, healthcare and an overall macro health system. Economic improvement and health are interdependent.

Ill health or lack of ill health in the population has profound effects. Ill health in the population reduces productivity in families and communities, the cost of ill health alone can impoverish families. The large cost on families for health care can lead to negative effects in other areas of life such as nutrition and education. Health spending as a share of total household expenditures is high and not decreasing (12.9% in 2011, 11.3% in 2003)

Access to healthcare is a social stability and political issue. There is a strong popular discontent currently with the quality of care and cost of care. There have been huge strides forward in extending coverage of health insurance in China, over 95% of the population are now covered. Data suggests people are using more health care than before. This statistic can be generally positive if there was an under use of healthcare facilities previously but there still lies significant inefficiencies and perverse incentives within the health system.

For one, GPs are not paid enough, therefore good doctors prefer to work in hospitals.  The population pays out of pocket so they naturally opt to pay for a good doctor, resulting in the population going to the hospital.  As a result, the health “system” is structured around the income and needs of hospital doctors, not around health concerns of patients and the population.

Hospitals and primary care workers are paid a fee for service, therefore the incentive is for them to increase volume. Hospital revenue was, until recently, dependent on drug sales but now is dependent on the volume of services provided. These services are underpriced by the Government.

Primary care is weak, there isn’t a strong network of GPs. People go to hospital, partly because they don’t trust the quality of care provided by GPs. Health financing is fragmented as the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security is responsible for urban health insurance. Over 30% of health care is paid for out of pocket by patients. Health insurance funds in some places are not sustainable.  Some provinces and cities only have reserves to last less than 6 months, while others have reserves to last over 20 months (2013 data).

Dr. Schwartlander proposed the future may not be so bleak, certain reforms can be implemented to encourage improvement such as, Paying GPs a competitive salary, and ensure quality of services that aren’t based on fee for service. Another solution would be to train more GPs and pay them well so they choose to work as GPs.  China trained 172,597 GPs last year but 63% choose to work elsewhere, in hospitals and pharmaceutical companies.

Dr. Schwartlander suggested reform in hospitals, paid by total budget with incentives for quality rather than volume. Focus the medical profession on quality and professionalism and away from revenue generation. Health insurance funds hold providers accountable for delivery of quality, at present, health insurance funds are just bean counters paying out on demand. There also needs to be increased reimbursement rates, in theory they are 70-80% but in practice they are around or below 50%, so there are still huge out of pocket payments which price many people out of getting the care that they need.

There is a silver lining in the overall direction of Government policies as all signs are pointing to a high level of commitment. Fourteen major policies or guidelines were released in 2015 and one already in January 2016 to merge health insurance funds.

According to Dr. Schwartlander, focusing on reforming the health system alone is not enough, there needs to be a focus on promoting good health, not just treating people when they are sick. Pre-emptive measures should be promoted to encourage the population to improve lifestyle habits before resorting to paying out of pocket at a hospital. Health lifestyle risks are prevalent in our societies especially when coupled with the impact of the ageing population. Life style risk factors are very prevalent in China, for example 315 million smokers (15 million MORE than 5 years ago), no country nor society can pay for the disease avalanche that will roll over us in the future.

Hong Kong’s Greenest Hotel

In April 2015 members heard from Yau Lee Executive Director, Ms Rosana Wong, a pioneer in the use of technology to achieve sustainability in the construction and hospitality industries.

Some green changes were motivated by wastage, such as marble lobbies where excess stone is rejected in order to match patterns. Today stone can be “printed” to achieve designs with no compromise in aesthetics.

In planning, buildings can be oriented to minimise sun exposure – a significant concern in air conditioning-hungry Hong Kong. Living walls, solar panels and rain-water capture are proven techniques to reduce consumption.

Yet in one Hong Kong hotel new material that “captures” cold is used as headboards to ensure night-time sleeping comfort when the room temperature is increased to save electricity.

Together these technologies allow a 40% reduction in energy usage compared to peer hotels.

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