Government to provide a sustainable living environment for Hong Kong (with photo)

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government will continue its endeavours to provide a quality and sustainable living environment for the people of Hong Kong, the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, said today (October 17, New York time).

Mrs Lam was speaking at the plenary session of an international symposium organised by the Skyscraper Museum in New York City (NYC) to examine the relationship between vertical density and sustainable solutions in Hong Kong and New York during her official visit to the city.

She told the audience that Hong Kong’s high density development had accommodated the city’s population increase at one million per decade in the latter half of the 20th century and propelled its economic growth, while preserving the countryside for public enjoyment.  

“To many visitors, they are amazed to find out that over 44% of Hong Kong’s land area is actually taken up by country parks and special areas,” she said at the symposium.

“Hong Kong’s highly efficient public transport system which takes care of 89% of average daily trips made is also the envy of many cities.”

However, Mrs Lam admitted that in recent years, both the civil society and members of the public had voiced concerns about the height and bulk of buildings and their environmental and visual impact, and expressed strong aspirations for preserving heritage buildings, ceasing harbour reclamation, creating quality open space and preserving community networks and local characteristics in urban regeneration.

In response to these aspirations and to pursue a sustainable development in Hong Kong, the Government was committed to finding the right balance through what the Chief Executive referred to as “progressive development”, that is, apart from economic benefits, we should strive for benefits to culture, the society and the environment.

Mrs Lam outlined in her presentation the various initiatives in reviewing development density, promulgating clear development control parameters in statutory plans, preserving and revitalising heritage buildings, undertaking area-based revitalisation projects, promoting green buildings, etc.  She also took the opportunity to refer to new initiatives contained in the Chief Executive’s 2008 Policy Address delivered on 15 October, particularly on harbourfront enhancement and energy efficiency in buildings.

Mrs Lam said that to achieve the vision of Hong Kong as Asia’s world city, the Government would focus on three broad areas in working out the future blueprint of Hong Kong, namely improving a quality living environment, enhancing economic competitiveness, and strengthening links with the Mainland.

With the concerted efforts of the community, the Government was confident that all those policy measures would help contribute to the sustainable development of Hong Kong, she said.

Mrs Lam arrived in NYC on October 16 for a 3-day official visit. She met the Chair of Landmarks Preservation Commission, Mr Robert Tierney, and the Chair, City Planning Commission and Director of NYC Department of City Planning, Ms Amanda Burden today to learn about the city’s urban planning and heritage conservation works.

She will visit a number of historic buildings and significant public open spaces in the city tomorrow, including the Grand Central Terminal, New York Public Library, Madison Square Park, Bryant Park and Union Square Greenmarket, and to officiate at the performance of City Contemporary Dance Company, which is a programme under the “New York Celebrates Hong Kong 2008 Festival” organised by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York.

Ends/Saturday, October 18, 2008
Issued at HKT 11:55


The Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, today (October 17, New York time) speaking at the plenary session of an international symposium organised by the Skyscraper Museum in New York City.