Systematic process devised to assess sustainability


The Secretary for Planning and Lands, Mr Gordon Siu announced the findings and recommendations of the Study on Sustainable Development for the 21st Century (SUSDEV 21) today (February 9).

Commissioned in 1997, SUSDEV 21 aimed at developing a systematic process to enable Hong Kong's decision makers to understand the long term implications of strategic policy or development decisions, using a set of forward-looking sustainability indicators.

Speaking at a press conference, Mr Siu said that sustainable development involves balancing social, economic and environmental needs.

"Sustainable development is an abstract concept. To implement this concept, we have to apply it in practical life, in different aspects including economy, health and hygiene, natural resources, social facilities, cultural activities and transportation."

"Sustainable development has to work for present as well as future generations," Mr Siu said.

To help bureaux and departments to systematically assess the sustainability implications of new policies and schemes, the consultant has assembled baseline data and developed a set of indicators for evaluation by means of a computer aided sustainability evaluation tool.

By applying the evaluation tool, information on major projects between different bureaux and departments will be shared to encourage a cross-sectoral, team based approach to planning.

The indicators will be reviewed regularly for revision or updating.

As the way forward, the Government proposed to set up a Sustainable Development Unit (SDU) to help integrate sustainable development principles into the Government's major policy initiatives and to serve the Council for Sustainable Development (CSD) after it has been established.

"To ensure that sustainable development is given early consideration in the decision-making process, bureaux and departments will be required to include in the submissions to the Chief Secretary's Committee or the Executive Council a statement on the sustainability evaluation," Deputy Director of Administration, Ms Chang King-yiu said.

"While our general objective is to encourage wide application of sustainability assessments by bureaux and departments, presentation of an evaluation report would be mandatory for strategic initiatives and major programmes," she said.

Examples may include the comprehensive transport studies, regional or sub-regional planning studies, and possible strategies for energy and conservation.

The SDU will also examine overseas experiences in promoting sustainable development and consider carefully the relationship between the CSD and other relevant statutory and advisory bodies.

Upon the establishment of the CSD, the SDU will provide support to the Council and work with it to facilitate a concerted effort by the community to put sustainable development into practice.

Mr Siu said, "Successful implementation of the concept of sustainable development requires the joint efforts of the community and the Government.

"We look forward to the early setting up of the SDU, an important step in promoting sustainable development in the SAR," he added.

End/Friday, February 9, 2001