FaithInvest CEO Martin Palmer has returned from a packed and inspiring week in Hong Kong, where he met faith leaders, discussed plans for an exciting new initiative to support Daoist investors, delivered a lecture at Hong Kong University and spoke at JP Morgan's Asia Philanthropy Forum.
For Martin, returning to Hong Kong was also an enormous personal pleasure after he first visited the territory as an 18-year-old, volunteering in an orphanage for a year. It had a huge impact on his life.
'It made me see the world very differently and has fed much of what I've done since,' he says, in the video recorded in Hong Kong (below), in which he explains what he is doing there.
'In Hong Kong you have this microcosm of the world – you have Zoroastrians, Sikhs, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Baha'i's. Christians, Catholics – the whole world is here. And of course it is a major financial centre.'
Asia Philanthropy Forum
JP Morgan's Asia Philanthropy Forum brought together influential philanthropists (many from Asia-based families motivated by values that are often guided by faith), as well as policy makers, entrepreneurs and community practitioners to discuss how we can give with real impact.
Martin spoke at a panel on the first day entitled: 'Giving with Purpose; the Role of Faith in Philanthropy'. The event produced 'a fascinating collection of people and an impressive mixture of participants and a truly innovative set of speakers.' he said.
Investing according to Daoist values
The trip included a meeting with Daoist faith leaders and a representative of the China Daoist Association, who travelled from Beijing to meet Martin to discuss plans to develop a new initiative around Doaist values and investing.
The initiative, which was prompted by affluent Daoists approaching the China Daoist Association for advice on how to use their wealth in line with traditional Chinese values, will see new guidance being developed for Daoist investors as well as a new organisation being established to inspire entrepreneurs and business people who follow Daoism to use their assets in line with traditional Chinese values.
Martin explains: 'I've worked with the Chinese Daoists for over 30 years and we were approached by the China Daoist Association before the COVID lockdowns asking us to begin exploring these issues and to help them think through them. Then COVID struck, but within a couple of days of all COVID restrictions on travel being lifted, they were saying, can we meet?
'We had virtually a whole day at the largest Daoist temple in Hong Kong, Wong Tai Sin, about creating a new guidebook for people who are lay Daoists, who follow the Daoist principles and are shaped by Daoist principles, as to how they can invest according to ESG (Environment-Social-Governance) and in line with the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals,' Martin explained.
'One of the features of contemporary China is the rise in the number of people who associate themselves with a particular faith or tradition, or, as is often described in China, traditional Chinese beliefs and values.
'And the heart of that, for many people, is Daoism. It's the only indigenous Chinese religion. It has formed the basis of the philosophical and scientific outlook of China for at least 2000 years, and therefore is of enormous interest to Chinese entrepreneurs, business people, thinkers who want to show that China has a great gift of philosophy and wisdom and practical action to share with the world.'
This new Daoist initiative will be launched at an international meeting in China in September this year, at which Martin has been invited to speak.
Above: Martin and Dr Lee Yiu-fai, Abbot of Wong Tai Sin Temple, and worshippers at the temple.
Lecture at Hong Kong University
Martin also gave a lecture on the growth of the faith environmental movement, and how this now includes a recognition of the faiths as stakeholders in the planet, with considerable assets from buildings and land to billions of dollars of investments.
Faith leaders and environmental groups were invited to Martin's lecture, held at Hong Kong University, the territory's oldest institute of higher learning with an international reputation for excellence, ranked fourth in Asia University Rankings, and 31st in World University Rankings.