Second stage consultation on sustainable development

Sustainable development is the key to making Hong Kong one of the best places to live for the present and future generations, said the Chief Executive, Mr Tung Chee Hwa, marking the launching of the second stage public consultation on sustainable development today (Monday).

Mr Tung invited the public to express their views in the coming three months on the essential recommendations of a consultancy study on the subject commissioned by the Planning Department.

Elaborating on the Government's determination to adhere to such a principle, he said a set of indicators was being developed to assess social, economic and environmental effects of every major policy in order to strike a balance between various factors.

"Sustainable development means finding ways to increase prosperity and improve the quality of life while reducing overall pollution and waste, meeting our own needs and aspirations without doing damage to the prospects of future generations, and reducing the environmental burden we put on our neighbours and helping to preserve common resources," Mr Tung said.

He noted that Hong Kong was facing up a huge bill for neglecting the environment over the years while pursuing social and economic progress.

"To avoid making the same mistake, we must change our thinking swiftly and implement the concept of sustainable development," he said.

He reiterated that environmental protection was high on the Government's agenda and was one of the main themes of his Policy Address.

In the Policy Address, the Chief Executive announced a range of measures to improve the environment, including improving the air quality to the standard of major cities such as London and New York by 2005, speeding up sewage disposal projects to improve the water quality in the Victoria Harbour, and doubling the proportion of recycling of waste by 2007.

"The Government is firmly committed to achieving these targets and we will provide sufficient resources to implement these measures," he said.

Stressing that we could not solve environmental problems by our effort alone, the Chief Executive said he was pleased to announce that agreement had been reached with the Guangdong authorities to cooperate in six areas to jointly improve the air and water quality in the Pearl River Delta.

The kick-off ceremony was also attended by the Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands, Mr Gordon Siu, and the Director of Planning, Mr Bosco Fung.

The study, known as SUSDEV 21 Study, addresses long term sustainable development to ensure that policies and plans should balance economic, social and environment objectives, both for present and future generations.

The first stage public consultation programme held last year has introduced the concept of sustainable development to the public and solicited their views on various issues, which had been taken into account in the formulation of a preliminary set of guiding principles and sustainability indicators.

In the current consultation exercise, the public and stakeholders will have another opportunity to comment on some major proposals on the way forward.

These proposals cover the definition of sustainable development for Hong Kong, the guiding principles, indicators and evaluative criteria, and the development of a computer-based tool to assist Government's evaluation of the sustainability implications of strategic policy and project decisions.

A roving exhibition is being held across the territory to provide updated information to facilitate exchanges of ideas on how sustainable development should be pursued.

Starting at the Pacific Place today until October 27, the exhibition will move to four other venues during the following period:

Metroplaza, Kwai Chung (3.11.99 - 10.11.99)

Lok Fu Shopping Centre (11.11.99 - 17.11.99)

Tuen Mun Town Plaza (18.11.99 - 24.11.99)

New Town Plaza, Sha Tin (25.11.99 - 1.12.99)

A consultation document and an information pamphlet have been published and are available at the information counter of the exhibition venues, all District Offices, the Planning Department and its homepage

Photo:The Chief Executive, Mr Tung Chee Hwa, officiated at the opening ceremony of the exhibition on "Sustainable Development in Hong Kong for the 21st Century" at Pacific Place. Picture shows Mr Tung joining the officiating guests at the ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the exhibition.

End/Monday, October 25, 1999