Special Report – Annie Lao

What better way to celebrate Macau Business’s 17th anniversary than to showcase 17 locals aged 35 and younger with the kind of talent that boosts our confidence in the future?

MB May 2021 Special Report | 17 talented young people

Annie Lao

Studying in Australia let Annie Lao discover nature. Typhoon Hato made her realize how necessary it is to protect the land we live in.

Basically, each one of us is becoming an ecologist to an ever-greater extent, while the truth is few of us have the courage to take on a more active role.

That makes being an eco-activist – in a land where harmony is prized and facing up to those most powerful is to be feared – doubly uncomfortable. 

Eco-activism, however, is the right word to sum up Annie Lao’s environmental concerns, which are not unlike Greta Thunberg’s, her great inspiration in the fight against climate change.

Take for example what happened in 2018 when Lao, representing a group of environmentally concerned citizens, submitted a petition bearing thousands of signatures against single-use plastics to the government.

The moment she appeared before the media and government officials, convincingly defending her ideas, she became the new face of local environmental activism.

Her concerns over the future of the planet arose when she attended the University of Sydney, Australia, but the course she completed (a bachelor’s degree in Commerce, 2012) was not indicative of the Annie Lao we know today. 

She had remained at the University and was working in the school’s accounting department when she decided to stop and travel around Australia and Europe. This opened new horizons for the young woman, born in 1989.

Annie Lao’s voice began to be heard in 2017 – the year of Super Typhoon Hato – when for the first time she felt Macau was not a safe place to live. “I felt like I could have lost my home or my family,” she said at the time.

Since 2017 she has led a number of campaigns. The lack of garbage separation in Macau was her first, primarily because the government seemed aloof from the problem.

Following the launch in 2018 of the online petition “Macau Plastic Waste and Pollution”, she was eventually chosen to meet with leaders to discuss environmental policies and managed, together with other concerned citizens, to pressure the Government to move forward with the first law restricting the use of plastic bags and to create legislation banning single-use plastics.

Ms Lao took another step: in 2019 she and others launched the “Macau for Waste Reduction” campaign – initially known as “Macau Waste-No-Mall” – on Facebook, and some months later they turned words into action, inaugurating a recycling station hosted in different parts of the city every second Saturday of the month in a bid to collect recyclable plastics, aluminium cans and paper from the community and to teach the importance of clean and properly sorted recycling.

The work she carried out led to her employment by one of the casino-hotel resorts in its department dedicated to sustainability.