Speech by SPEL

Following is the full text of the speech by the Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands, Mr. Gordon Siu, delivered at the Prelude to ECC's 10th Anniversary Celebration in Park Court, Pacific Place this (Friday) afternoon:

Mr. Wong,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to be present at the Environmental Campaign Committee's 10th Anniversary Celebration.

The ECC has attained an impressive record of achievements since its establishment. The Student Environmental Protection Ambassador Scheme, for example, was an innovative, successful and often praised initiative. World Environment Day and the annual Environmental Protection Festivals have been landmark activities. Over the past ten years, due to these and other events, people of Hong Kong have become more and more conscious about the environment. They are more willing to make an effort to improve the quality of life in the place where we live. It is encouraging. I would like to thank the ECC for contributing to this. I would also like to thank the individuals, and the green groups, who make up the ECC, and who give so much time, effort and expertise.

The Government is determined to improve the environment and set a new course for a sustainable future. The Government can and will do a great deal to help:

- We introduce new vehicle emission standards to help clean the air;

- we plan and build comprehensive sewage collection and treatment systems to clean our waters;

- we provide landfills to dispose of our waste in an environmentally sound manner;

- we also ensure that environmental and sustainable development objectives are considered at an early stage when planning new developments.

We must not be complacent. We must go further and faster.

However, Government's efforts alone won't work unless everyone in the community is fully involved. Protecting the environment is everyone's concern. Each of us is an important partner, an essential partner and every amount of individual effort really does count.

It is easy to do. It often requires no extra effort, Frequently we just need to do things differently, by thinking about the effects of our actions. If we exercise a bit of care here and there on tiny matters in our daily lives, we can make enormous improvements. There are many simple examples -

- switch off electric appliances when you are not using them; switch off lights when you leave a room;

- drivers can turn off car engines while waiting;

- don't leave a tap running. This not only saves water but also saves energy;

- reduce waste by not buying products that have too much packaging; separate usable materials such as paper, plastic and drinks cans for recycling;

- walk short distances instead of using vehicular transport. It's good for your health, and for the environment.

I have listed some examples, there are many more simple tasks can be done anywhere, by all of us, at home, at school, at work and in public places.

Bringing about a cleaner environment not only improves our lives, our health, but, more importantly, it will help safeguard our futures, and those of our children. Almost every day we see disturbing reports predicting a dire future for the world's environment. I remain an optimist. I am confident that the greater understanding that arises from the work of bodies like the ECC, changes in lifestyle and new technologies will help us avert the disasters that some are predicting. But this can be done only if we all participate actively.

Mr. Wong, Members of the ECC, green group representatives, past and present, may I thank you again for your excellent work over the past ten years. I look forward to even closer cooperation in future.

Thank you.

End/Friday, September 24, 1999