WWF’s Response to the HKSAR 2020-21 Budget | WWF Hong Kong

WWF’s Response to the HKSAR 2020-21 Budget

26 February 2020

Earlier today, the Financial Secretary announced the 2020-2021 Budget of the HKSAR and outlined the government’s commitments to making Hong Kong a premier green hub in the region and tackling the climate crisis with decarbonisation measures.
Green Finance
WWF welcomes government’s move to further develop Green Finance for investment decisions to contribute to positive environmental and conservation outcomes. This initial announcement of $66 billion in green bond issuance will help to further develop green finance in Hong Kong.  
A Sustainable and Liveable City 
WWF-Hong Kong welcomes the pilot schemes to develop electric green public light bus and electric ferries and we look forward to seeing a comprehensive and effective roadmap on the popularisation of EVs upon the update of the Clean Air Plan.  The measures align with WWF’s vision to transform Hong Kong into Asia’s most sustainable city. 
Dr. David Olson, Director of Conservation of WWF-Hong Kong added, “ The $200 million Green Tech Fund will pave the way for Hong Kong to reach the needed 10% renewable energy goal through diversifying and magnifying solar photovoltaic (PV) technology in buildings, in open spaces, along vertical faces of buildings, and on highway infrastructure with large surface areas, such as noise enclosures. Currently in Hong Kong, less than 1 per cent of the electricity is generated by renewable energy. For electrification of vehicles to help address climate crisis, the city's electricity needs to be generated from renewable resource such as solar energy. WWF suggests a 10% renewable energy target by 2030.”
In dealing with plastic waste, WWF welcomes the rental subsidy for the local recycling enterprises. However, we urge the government to tackle the source of the problem, including funding a feasibility study of the Extended Producer Responsibility system for plastic packaging and tableware in the F&B industry, and establishing an aid fund for the food and beverage industry to roll out incentive schemes for customers to bring their own cutlery and containers.
Regarding the development of Chinese medicine (CM), WWF stresses the importance of the protection and sustainable use of the wild species and habitats that many medicines are sourced from and recommend the government to utilise the dedicated $500 million funding to enhance CM drug labelling, increase prescription transparency, enforce existing laws prohibiting the use of threatened species,and promote the sustainable use of TCM among the public and Chinese medicine practitioners.
Wildlife and Public Health Crisis
In fighting the COVID-2019 outbreak, the budget has mentioned the government will pay more attention to environmental hygiene so as to reduce the risk of infectious diseases spreading in the community. WWF believes the outbreak of COVID-2019 underscores the need to take urgent action and raise awareness of the potential threats to human health posed by the illegal and unregulated wildlife trade. The public health crisis must serve as a wake-up call for the need to end unsustainable use of endangered animals and their parts, as exotic pets, for food consumption and for their perceived medicinal value. 
Peter Cornthwaite, CEO of WWF-Hong Kong commented, “Permanent closures of wildlife markets, especially wet markets that sell wildlife, would provide a double dividend of significant benefit by greatly reducing the risk of future epidemics of severe wildlife-hosted diseases jumping to humans as well as reducing the impacts of the wildlife trade on threatened species around the world. WWF is calling for more resources to establish a joint law enforcement task force under Security Bureau to tackle organised transnational wildlife crime of trafficking CITES listed species, with wildlife crime offences included under Schedule 1 of the Organised and Serious Crimes Ordinance.” 
We are disappointed that government did not address the needs to protect and restore biodiversity. Additional funding should be allocated under the Countryside Conservation Fund Scheme to help restore the natural ecology of Hong Kong particularly wetlands and coastal sites of ecological value, and help support community-based projects that connects our community with nature. 
Budget provisions are needed to ensure proper coastal and marine spatial planning before any reclamation plan.  WWF-Hong Kong reaffirms that “brownfield first” policy must be prioritised and reclamation should be the last resort for land supply. 
Dr. Laurence McCook, Head of Ocean Conservation of WWF-Hong Kong remarked, “Urgent action is needed to restore key fish species and important habitats.  Our community should invest at least $5 billion over 3 years in setting up Marine Protected Areas Authority to implement a network of marine parks covering 30% of Hong Kong waters by 2030. Currently the Hong Kong government has no planning mechanism to provide strategic direction for utilising the marine resources. The government should make reference to the land planning, and immediately implement marine functional zoning for proper usage of our sea, bringing us into line with planning processes occurring in the rest of the Greater Bay Area within Guangdong.”