Ministerial forum discusses sustainable urbanisation (with photo)More than 80 ministers and senior officials from the Mainland and 13 other countries/region in the Asia Pacific are attending the Ninth Ministers' Forum on Infrastructure Development in the Asia-Pacific Region (the Forum) in Hong Kong on December 15 and 16 to exchange views and share experiences on sustainable urbanisation.
The Forum, initiated by Japan in 1995, aims to provide ministers and senior officials of its member countries/region with a unique international platform to discuss development strategies and policies, exchange views and share experiences in infrastructure development. The Forum has 20 member countries/region in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, officiated at the Forum's opening today (December 16). He said that continued population growth and rapid urbanisation and their impact on communities and the environment pose huge challenges to governments of the region in various forms, from housing and transport to energy and natural resources.
To maintain its competitive edge and enhance the living environment, Hong Kong has introduced a new dimension to infrastructure programmes, he noted.
"In his 2007-08 Policy Address, the Chief Executive of the HKSAR Government introduced the concept of 'progressive development', which stresses the need to protect the environment while promoting economic growth so as to create a quality city life for the people of Hong Kong. Development must be sustainable, balanced and diverse," Mr Tsang said.
In pursuing sustainable urban development, Hong Kong has adopted a five-pronged strategy - optimising use of land to achieve liveability; pursuing a low-carbon and sustainable model of development as an ongoing process; enhancing the efficiency and safety standards of utility infrastructure; promoting heritage conservation and revitalisation of historic buildings, and promoting regional co-operation.
"At the beginning of its term, the Government initiated the strategy of promoting growth through infrastructural development. Our capital works expenditure rose substantially from HK$20.5 billion in 2007-08 to the revised estimate of HK$49.6 billion in 2010-11. The estimated capital works expenditure for 2011-12 will reach a record high of over HK$58 billion.
"The Government will continue to invest heavily in infrastructure in the next few years and I estimate that the capital works expenditure for each of the next few years will exceed HK$60 billion," Mr Tsang said.
Delivering the welcome address to the forum delegates, the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, said, "Strategies have been developed and measures have been taken by the Government to enhance land use planning, combat climate change, ensure public safety as well as improve living quality.
"All these pose considerable challenges for us given Hong Kong's geographical, spatial and natural resource constraints. Nonetheless, we shall make every endeavour in meeting our people’s aspiration for a quality living environment in Hong Kong."
Mrs Lam also shared with the delegates Hong Kong's recent initiative to enhance land supply by reclamation outside Victoria Harbour and rock cavern development.
Hong Kong hosted the Third Forum in 1999. This is the second time that Hong Kong was selected to host this prestigious international event.
Organised by the Development Bureau, the two-day Forum on December 15 and 16 comprised two sessions: the Senior Officials' Meeting and the Ministers' Forum. Under the theme "Sustainable Urbanisation", Forum participants focused their discussions on four aspects of common interest to member countries/region in pursuing sustainable urban development, namely, land use and town planning, climate change, public safety and living quality.
Delegates participated actively in sharing experiences and exchanging views on challenges encountered during the process of urbanisation, and strategies to overcome these challenges.
To demonstrate the joint commitment and solidarity of the member countries/region in pursuing sustainable urbanisation, a Ministers' Joint Declaration was endorsed by the participating countries/region.
More details of the Forum are available at the following website: www.devb.gov.hk/9th_forum.
Ends/Friday, December 16, 2011
Issued at HKT 18:30