In our 5th year, it is becoming clear what areas of expertise Civic Exchange has accumulated over the years. We have developed core competence in approaching public policy from a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary basis; we are a leader in air quality and environmentally-related research; and we devote considerable time to exploring how the Hong Kong constitutional system should evolve.
The post-SARS turnaround in 2003 was swift for Hong Kong and for Civic Exchange. The fact that our city was able to recover quickly had much to do with its strong foundations, both economically and socially. For Civic Exchange too, SARS provided an opportunity to respond in a way that utilised our ability to act as a platform for collaboration.
The past year has been a defining one for Civic Exchange, as it has been for Hong Kong where we are based. The outbreak of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) made us realise the importance of building social capital in our society so that citizens can fight adversity together effectively. Although there was sadness over the many infections and deaths in the community, Hong Kong people were also proud of their ability to come together to overcome the unexpected public health challenge that paralysed the city for three months. At a time of crisis, Hong Kong people proved they could be compassionate, generous, cooperative and professional. The experience gave Hong Kong people back their sense of dignity and pride, which has suffered in recent years as a result of self doubt and uncertainty about how Hong Kong fits into a rapidly modernising China.
The past year has been busy and invigorating. We are stretching our abilities and producing work of high quality that we are proud of despite modest resources. In the midst of our hectic schedule, we had our first birth and our first marriage. Congratulations to Lisa Hopkinson for her best work yet in producing Lydia Bea, and to Julia Gilkes for her transformation to Julia Surman. A key project for the coming year is to design a playroom at Number 69 Wyndham Street so that Lydia can visit often. Civic Exchange is grateful to design school students from Hong Kong Polytechnic University for creating our second annual report in CD-Rom, website and printable pdf formats.
This is Civic Exchange’s first Annual Report. It documents our establishment and getting off the ground. We believe we are creating a unique approach to developing public policy where we combine research, thinking, experiment, and building stakeholder consensus in a practical and participatory manner. There is a story of how we got to where we are. We would like to tell this story here. Even though Civic Exchange is only one year old, the key individuals who make up the organization have been involved in public policy for some time. Setting up Civic Exchange represented the next step of our collaboration. Civic Exchange is grateful to design school students from Hong Kong Polytechnic University for creating our first annual report in CD-Rom and printable PDF format.