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WWF releases Hong Kong Ecological Footprint Report 2013: If everyone in the world lived a Hong Kong lifestyle, we would need 2.6 Earths

On Earth Overshoot Day, WWF-Hong Kong is releasing the “Hong Kong Ecological Footprint Report 2013”. This report explains and explores the reasons why Hong Kong people are living beyond the Earth’s limits.

There is no denying that Hong Kong is a materialistic society. For this reason, Hong Kong’s Ecological Footprint is considerably larger than the global average. Today, on Earth Overshoot Day, WWF-Hong Kong is releasing the “Hong Kong Ecological Footprint Report 2013”. This report explains and explores the reasons why Hong Kong people are living beyond the Earth’s limits. In a comparison of about 150 countries, Hong Kong was found to have the 26th largest per capita Ecological Footprint. If everyone in the world lived in the lifestyle we lead in Hong Kong, we would need the equivalent of 2.6 Earths to fulfil our need for resources.

According to the report, Hong Kong has an average per person Ecological Footprint of 4.7 global hectares (gha), which is a staggering 150 times more than the 0.03 gha of Hong Kong’s available per capita biocapacity. The difference between the two figures means we are in “ecological deficit”. This deficit is the ninth largest in the world and the second-largest in Asia. The report predicts that if the situation remains unchanged in the future, by the middle of this century, we will need the equivalent resources of 3 Earths to satisfy our daily needs.

Mr CW Cheung, Head of the Footprint Programme of WWF-Hong Kong explained, “Hong Kong has always been reliant on the natural resources of other countries. Since ecological deficit is a growing problem around the world, there is increasing competition for global resources. Hong Kong has to make changes and adapt to the rules of this “new game”, to make us less vulnerable to fluctuations in global market prices and supply disruption. We hope that the Government, corporations and individuals can begin to take responsibility and adopt a “consume less, consume wisely” approach. This will reduce Hong Kong’s Ecological Footprint and also strengthen Hong Kong's competitive advantage.”

“Running significant biocapacity deficits is becoming more and more of a risk to economies in a world in overshoot,” said Global Footprint Network President Mathis Wackernagel. “With its innovation power and many efficiency advantages, Hong Kong has the potential to take the lead in sustainable development. This is not only good for the world, but it gives Hong Kong a distinct advantage and ensures economic stability.”

The report also shows that the consumption of goods is responsible for one-fourth of Hong Kong’s total Ecological Footprint, and is by far the largest single contributing sector to the Footprint. To learn

more about the consumption habits of Hong Kong people, WWF-Hong Kong recently conducted an online “Hong Kong Clothing Consumption Survey” in August, 2013. The results of the survey show that almost 80 percent of respondents do not believe that they buy more clothes than they need; while over 80 percent knew that the manufacturing of clothes is associated with negative environmental impacts, and agree that they would buy fewer clothes if they knew that the manufacture of clothes negatively affected the environment. The survey findings show that Hong Kong people’s perception of the relationship between shopping and the environment is enormously different from what they actually do in their real lives.

Ms Leila Chan, an independent journalist and author of a series of green living publications said that it is difficult for Hong Kong people to live sustainably, but some simple practices can help people to practice the “consume less, consume wisely” philosophy. She explained, “Living sustainably does not have to involve personal hardship, simple practices like using recycled plastic bags instead of paper bags and conducting periodic “stocktaking” of our wardrobes from time to time will give us a better idea of what we have and what we do not need. These practices can definitely help us to live sustainably."

Mr Kwok, director of a Hong Kong indoor fish farm added, “All environmentally conscious businesses should consider sustainability in their decision-making. As an indoor fish farm, we include sustainability in every aspect of our daily operation, like using a water recirculation system to reduce the pollution impacts on the environment and partnering with other companies to reduce overall energy use.”

WWF-Hong Kong hopes that this new Hong Kong Ecological Footprint Report will allow Hong Kong people to start thinking about the imbalance between human needs and global resources. We believe now is the time for immediate action from the Hong Kong Government, the business community and individuals. It is time for all of us to “consume less, consume wisely”. We need to turn Hong Kong into a sustainable society, reduce Hong Kong’s Ecological Footprint and reduce our dependence on resources outside our borders.

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