Ex-staff Perspective On 10 Years Of CWR: Mark Harper

By Mark Harper 26 October, 2021

On the 10th year anniversary, former project manager Harper reflects on his time with us & how it shaped his career

Joined CWR in 2014 to be involved in 'groundbreaking thought leadership work' while building a life in HK - team of 3 managed everything from website, newsletter & research
Highlight project was the water risk assessment for a major Hong Kong hotel chain - it further sparked his interest in ESG & corporate sustainability and reaffirmed his career direction
CWR gave him focus on what he wanted to do: in-house corporate sustainability. Now, Harper works on Swire Group's sustainability strategy
Mark Harper
Author: Mark Harper
Mr Harper has worked for over 15 years in the field of corporate sustainability and environmental engagement. At John Swire & Sons Hong Kong, he is responsible for managing the Group's ESG disclosures and advising Swire companies on their ESG submissions. In addition to his reporting work, Mr Harper is responsible for assisting the Group on policy and strategy development, particularly in the areas of climate resilience, biodiversity, waste, and sustainable water management. He also leads the Research Committee of the Drink Without Waste working group Mr Harper has extensive experience in ESG disclosure standards, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals, GRI and the Hong Kong Exchange ESG Reporting Guide, in conducting sector-focused benchmarking studies, corporate environmental management, and in organising hands-on corporate citizenship and CSR training programmes for many corporations, including HSBC and HKEx. Mr Harper worked in a number of senior management positions before joining John Swire & Sons Hong Kong in high-profile NGOs, including the Earthwatch Institute, Fauna & Flora International, China Water Risk, and the Business Environment Council, where he was responsible for managing the organisations' advisory services on ESG reporting and corporate sustainability strategy development. Mark was project manager of China Water Risk for 2013 and articles written below were during his tenure at China Water Risk.
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CWR: Tell us about your time at CWR …

When did you join?

Mark Harper(MH): I joined in 2013.

Why did you join?

MH: In a previous role I had been seconded to Hong Kong and during that time I fell in love with the city.

CWR role gave me opportunity to be involved in … groundbreaking thought leadership work

The CWR role gave me an opportunity to come back to Hong Kong, to build a life and career here. It also gave me the opportunity to be involved in what I felt was groundbreaking thought leadership work on a major emerging issue.


How long did you spend at CWR?

MH: I was there for around 12 months.

What did you do?

MH: We were a small team of three back then, so we all had to be involved in everything from management of the CWR website, writing for and helping to prepare the monthly newsletter, and working on some of the research projects – such as a water risk assessment for a major hotel chain.

CWR: Looking back to your time there, what do you consider as your biggest achievement? Part of the job included public speaking, any memorable firsts? Were you nervous, any tips?

The project I most enjoyed was the water risk assessment for a major HK hotel chain

MH: The project I most enjoyed was the water risk assessment for a major Hong Kong hotel chain, it was this project that further sparked my interest in ESG and corporate sustainability and reaffirmed my views on where I wanted to take my career.

CWR: Is your current work related to water? If so, how? If not, do you still keep tabs on water challenges?

MH: My current role is partially related to water in that I work on the development and implementation of the Swire Group sustainability strategy SwireTHRIVE.

But my primary foci are climate change and climate risk as well as waste management with a strong focus on plastics. I definitely keep tabs on what is happening in the water space, and the CWR newsletter is integral to that.

CWR: Has CWR changed your career aspirations?

MH: No, I had always wanted to work in sustainability.

CWR gave me focus on exactly what I wanted to do: in-house corporate sustainability

In fact, I had worked in sustainability for around 10 years before I joined CWR. What CWR did was give me focus on exactly what I wanted to do in sustainability – which was to take an in-house corporate sustainability position.


CWR: Three words/bullets on what makes CWR unique …


  1. Specific focus
  2. Data-driven
  3. Tailored communication using decision-useful language that businesses can understand

CWR: Any advice to those who want to join work in the water/climate space?

MH: Do your research, figure out what exactly you want to do, and what your skill sets are best suited to. Then persevere until you get the ideal role.

More on CWR 10-year anniversary 

Further Reading

  • Corporate Conscience: Beyond Charity Why are so few companies effectively mitigating water risk? Is it time for the conscientious corporate to transition water from purely charity and compliance to a core business activity?
  • Water in Mining: Disclosure Overview  The international mining sector leads the way in water disclosure, but with massive regional variations in the level of reporting and poor current reporting frameworks are investors getting the full picture?
  • Food, Weather & Water Heading north : Shifts in weather patterns mean food, weather and water are all heading north in China. Mark Harper analyses the major implications for agriculture & agri-commodities.