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International conference to share heritage conservation lessons (with photos)

Over 400 local and international academics, professionals and government officials will take part in a two-day conference today (December 12) and tomorrow to share their expertise and experience in heritage conservation and discuss the challenges of preserving historic buildings in the context of rapid urban development.

The International Conference on Heritage Conservation 2011, with the theme "Conservation and Development - Partners or Rivals?", is jointly organised by the Commissioner for Heritage's Office of the Development Bureau and the Antiquities and Monuments Office of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

The Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, officiated at the conference's opening ceremony this morning and delivered a keynote speech.

He said that for decades, Hong Kong had invested heavily in infrastructure to modernise the city, improve the living environment, maintain Hong Kong's global competitiveness and create jobs.

Mr Tsang noted that there had been higher public expectations on the Government to preserve the city's built heritage in recent years.

"In my 2007 Policy Address, I announced a new heritage conservation policy and promised to press ahead with heritage conservation work. Over the past four years we have made good progress with our various heritage conservation efforts," he said.

In the past few years, the Government has launched a series of initiatives to protect, conserve and revitalise Hong Kong's historic buildings. These have included the Heritage Impact Assessment for public works projects, the Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme, providing economic incentives to private owners for conserving their historic buildings, and the Conserving Central initiative as announced by the Chief Executive in his 2009-10 Policy Address.

"Development and conservation do not have to be opposing forces. They can be two sides of the same coin. We can, and should, strike a balance between development and heritage conservation. To maintain a good balance between the two requires the concerted efforts of all parties concerned, as well as mutual trust and understanding," Mr Tsang said.

Esteemed keynote speakers at the plenary session today included the Director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, Mr Shan Jixiang; the President of the Advisory Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), Mr John Hurd; the President of ICOMOS France, Mr Pierre-Antoine Gatier; and the Chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, New York, Mr Robert Tierney.

The Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, will deliver an address at the concluding plenary session tomorrow.

In addition to two plenary sessions and five break-out sessions on various heritage conservation topics, the conference participants will also have an opportunity to visit historic buildings in Hong Kong, including King Yin Lei and the Savannah College of Art and Design, Hong Kong (former North Kowloon Magistracy).

The Heritage Fiesta December 2011 is also being held concurrently during the conference period to allow the public to discover more about Hong Kong's built heritage. Sixteen historic buildings will be open for the public to visit free of charge throughout December.

More details of the International Conference on Heritage Conservation 2011 and the Heritage Fiesta December 2011 are available on the website: www.heritageconference2011.hk.

Ends/Monday, December 12, 2011
Issued at HKT 17:35

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The Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, delivers welcoming remarks at the opening ceremony of the International Conference on Heritage Conservation 2011 today (December 12).. The Director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, Mr Shan Jixiang, speaks at the plenary session today..

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