Tracy Wong Harris, is the Deputy Secretary General of HK Green Finance Association (HKGFA) and a kick-ass sustainability banker. Impressive CV for this young woman, as impressive as the spectacular green dress she is wearing today.
In Pic: Meeting Tracy over a cuppa
Born in HK, Tracy grew up in a village house far away from the HK sky scrapers. Sustainability as a term was not in her vocabulary. Green was nowhere in the horizon simply because Green was everywhere for Tracy, the benefits of living far from HK island.
Tracy went to the UK for her studies in her teens and subsequently started career in London as an Investment Banker. “Nothing to do with saving the planet at all”, says Tracy. Homeland beckoned her and she relocated back to Hong Kong in 2011.
The move to Asia was a good one. She got married to her English boyfriend who had come back to HK with Tracy and became a mother in 2014.
When she moved back to HK, she promised herself to do 1 thing outside of her day job to contribute back to the local community. Tracy chose to promote diversity. She started the HK Chapter of LGBT+ Business Resource Group (BRG) at JP Morgan in 2011.
In Pic: Tracy with the stake holders of her life, parents, her brother, hubby and baby, at Pink Dot Hong Kong
“Motherhood made me increasingly mindful of the resources - food, air, water, that I had been taking for granted. I had grown up with all these given to me but what about my child? How will the world be in 20 or 50 years?” Tracy’s younger brother made her realize to what extent she was living in a bubble. “He introduced me to the concept of planetary health, a concept that promotes human health and prosperity while preserving the environment." All these promoted her to think “What is her purpose in life”
After a period of deep reflection and deciding her next move, Tracy decided that she wanted to leverage her financial skillsets to make positive impact to the environment, in particular in Asia where it needed the most. Next important challenge was leaving the cushy-shiny world of Investment Banking: “That was a tough one. It meant leaving a well-paid job and dealing with lifestyle change and the fear of the unknown…all at once”, remembers Tracy smiling.
Tracy started volunteering end of 2018 at the Hong Kong Green Finance Association. Rest is history.
“Sustainability is the buzz word nowadays. Everybody is using it and it can have completely different meaning to different people. What I really care about, is to use finance tools to channel the most needed capital to transition businesses towards a low carbon economy, to give us a chance to keep temperature raise to below 2 degrees. I am particular passionate about driving the building sector to transition to net zero.”
In Pic: Tracy moderating a session on Sustainable Finance
Along with Tracy’s advocacy responsibilities, she has also authored many important research reports related to climate change. A recent report on Decarbonizing HK Buildings she co-authored, notes that in Hong Kong’s unique, high-density built environment, activities in buildings account for more than 90% of electricity consumption and 60% of greenhouse gas emissions, which means reducing energy consumption in buildings is critical.
“Asking ourselves how do we make new and existing buildings energy efficient, in the lowest carbon possible way. Leverage tech, policy, financial products to help these industries to get closer to net zero.”, continues Tracy.
Despite her genuinely heartwarming smile, I could see she was concerned for climate change and angry towards those who refuse to change their attitude towards it.
The biggest challenge Tracy faces in her new professional life as a sustainability advocate is changing people’s mindset. “Urging them to try to go the sustainable way. Getting them to understand the risk of their actions and the huge opportunities that come along with it. Unfortunately, many are still looking at the financial impact in a traditional way and failing to address social or the environmental issues.”
In Tracy’s deep dark eyes, I also saw optimism, tenacity and the will to carry on the fight. The sustainability rhetoric is building-up and before long it will become a normality. Hope is such a powerful emotion, I said to myself smiling. Resisters better beware!