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Commendation for Promoting New Energy, Yet Urgent Action Required for Conservation, Particularly for Wetlands
Today, we offer a mixed response to the Chief Executive's Policy Address. WWF-Hong Kong (WWF) applauds the government's commitment to promoting the use of new energy sources and look forward to seeing the deployment of green fuel and green transformation of mobility in Hong Kong. WWF also eagerly awaits the update and implementation of the Hong Kong Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan based on the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (KM-GBF) and would take this opportunity to remind the government that the goals and targets set out in the KM-GBF and the minimum global efforts required to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030.
However, WWF is concerned by limited emphasis on conservation measures in the Policy Address, particularly regarding the protection of wetlands. While the proposed Sam Po Shue Wetland Conservation Park aims to enhance the ecological quality of the Northern Metropolis, WWF hopes the government will prioritize the conservation of wetlands and ensure no net loss in wetlands.
WWF calls on the government to actively pursue Wetland City accreditation under the Ramsar Convention for the Northern Metropolis. This accreditation recognizes cities that serve as exemplary models for conserving and sustainably utilizing wetlands. Dr. Bosco Chan, Director, Conservation, WWF-Hong Kong, emphasized, “Transforming the Northern Metropolis into an international Wetland City would not only safeguard endangered species but also enhance the climate resilience of the new development area, providing a high-quality living environment. This approach presents a win-win situation.”
Nicole Wong, CEO, WWF-Hong Kong, highlighted the importance of Deep Bay Wetlands, stating, “Deep Bay Wetlands support diverse wildlife and make a remarkable contribution to global biodiversity. Conserving Deep Bay Wetlands is a key priority for the sustainable development of the Greater Bay Area. The government must enhance cooperation with Mainland Authorities to preserve their integrity.”
This year’s Policy Address acknowledges recent extreme weather events in Hong Kong and the potential for future occurrences. WWF urges the government to develop a plan for climate resilience in existing and future buildings and infrastructure, building upon the principles established in the Climate Action Plan 2050. Including climate change factors in the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance and its technical memorandum is one way to ensure that climate risks are adequately addressed.
Nature itself offers solutions to enhance our climate resilience. The Deep Bay Wetlands, for instance, can serve as a natural sponge, effectively absorbing excess rainfall during severe rainstorms. WWF strongly recommends that the government capitalize on the natural conditions present in the Northern Metropolis by embracing Nature-based Solutions for the benefit of the environment and local communities.
Marine Spatial Planning
Regarding the development of maritime and port strategy and enhancement of cruise tourism, Lydia Pang, Interim Head of Oceans, Conservation, WWF-Hong Kong, commented, “A comprehensive ecosystem-based marine spatial planning is vital to achieve a sustainable blue economy and effectively resolve conflicts between sectors, including the protection of marine ecosystems.” WWF reiterates that the government should withdraw the Kau Yi Chau Artificial Island Reclamation Plan as no large-scale reclamation projects should proceed without conducting comprehensive marine spatial planning.
At present, only 5% of Hong Kong’s waters are designated or proposed as marine protected areas. The government should formulate a specific and timebound roadmap for expanding marine protected areas in line with the KM-GBF and requests for the designation of Shui Hau Bay on Lantau Island as a marine protected area by 2025.
The producer responsibility scheme (PRS) should strive to establish a circular economy by ensuring high-quality recycling outputs. For instance, for plastic beverage containers, the objective should be to achieve 100% bottle-to-bottle recycling. To support this, the government should provide necessary subsidies to the industry for developing infrastructures that enable complete circularity for these recycled materials. Furthermore, it is important for the government to adopt a holistic PRS that includes all types of packaging materials and products within its scope. This should be implemented in a way that allows for easy identification of eligible products. A clear and expedited timeline should be established for different types of products, ensuring effective implementation.
As concerned citizens and environmental advocates, WWF remains committed to working together with the government to achieve a sustainable and resilient future. WWF is ready to continue its efforts to create awareness, educate, and engage with the public, policymakers as well as the overall promotion of sustainability and environmental stewardship.
Please refer to details of WWF’s Policy Address recommendations here.