WWF’s Recommendations for 2019/20 Policy Address – Transform Hong Kong into Asia’s Most Sustainable City
1. Expand Marine Protected Areas and save declining Chinese white dolphin
WWF continues to stress the importance for Government to designate and expand marine protected areas (MPA) in order to fulfil Hong Kong’s obligation under the Convention of Biological Diversity and its own actions planned for dolphins and other marine species under the Government’s Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan. Active measures will be needed by the Government:
- Allocate budget to conduct feasibility studies for the establishment of MPA more broadly in 30% of waters in Hong Kong, to identify a network of science-based strict no-take reserves, fisheries management zones, community-based fisheries reserves, and other marine protected area designations;
- Designate an expanded network of strict no-take zones embedded within the MPA system as they have enormous biodiversity and fisheries benefits when properly configured and enforced.
- Expand and connect the existing marine parks to establish a science-based, well-connected, and well-managed network of critical foraging, socializing, and resting habitats. By 2020, establish Dolphin Conservation Management Zone across the Western and Southern Lantau waters, with critical foraging and resting habitats strictly managed in terms of vessel traffic and speed;
- Set up a community-based working group that includes relevant Government authorities, academics, NGOs, local community, dolphin-tourism companies, fishers, and village leaders to co-manage the Dolphin Conservation Management Zone;
- Require development projects to robustly assess the impacts of construction, especially noise impacts associated with piling placement, on local Chinese White Dolphin populations in the Environmental Impact Assessment.
To combat wildlife trafficking and related corruption, WWF urges the Government to:
- Include wildlife crime offences under Schedule 1 of the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance to further deter transnational criminal enterprises who use Hong Kong as a route for wildlife smuggling so that our enforcement agency can tackle criminal enterprises with a holistic view as a whole, from source to buyer and smuggler to kingpin, instead of focusing solely on smugglers, who have less influence in the criminal enterprises;
- Further strengthen communications with source countries of wildlife products through Hong Kong Police Force’s Crime and Security Department and its Liaison Bureau to develop criminal intelligence on wildlife transnational crime syndicates;
- Further strengthen Government’s Wildlife Crime Task Force and work more closely with China's National Inter-agency CITES Enforcement Coordination Group, the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime and other regional Wildlife Enforcement Networks. This will help intelligence analysis and resources tasking, which are needed to identify and tackle illegally sourced, exported, or re-exported wildlife products.
To address the climate emergency and global heating, WWF advocates the following actions:
- The Chief Executive to lead all Government departments, public bodies, and agencies to develop and commit to science-based targets in line with limiting global warming to 1.5°C;
- Set up a policy framework by exploring all options available including through legally binding carbon budget as appropriate to contribute to limiting global warming to 1.5°C with a 50% energy saving improvement target by 2050;
- Formulate a central procurement policy in line with limiting global warming to 1.5°C;
- Introduce a decarbonisation financing scheme that replicates the success of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects within Government properties to all open spaces and privately-owned buildings;
- Establish a mandatory climate change mitigation and adaptation building scheme to all new and existing buildings;
- Set a 10% renewable energy target by 2030 and implement low-carbon pilot villages in local communities powered by solar energy;
- Establish an extensive, whole landscape-scale native-species reforestation program for extant grassland areas to contribute to carbon sequestration with a view to making Hong Kong more carbon neutral.
Awareness on sustainable lifestyles has risen in Hong Kong in the past few years on the use of biological resources such as shark fin, seafood, paper and non-biological resources such as plastic. However, a gap between awareness and action still exists in Hong Kong. WWF recommends the Government to :
- Regulate labelling and increase transparency on wildlife food products with a pilot project focused on pre-packaged marine species;
- Lead the society towards sustainable consumption through the launch of a ‘credit-rebate system’, to encourage businesses to trade more sustainable products and reward consumers and retailers for practicing sustainable trade and consumption;
- Ban all polystyrene tableware by 2022;
- Provide a clear timeline on phasing out all single-use plastic tableware upon completion of the Government’s consultancy in 2021;
- Establish an aid fund for the food and beverage industry to roll out incentive schemes for customers to bring their own cutlery and container;
- Implement the Pilot Scheme on Collection and Recycling Services of Plastic Recyclable Materials in Sai Kung and Central piers;
- Develop a regulated Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) system for plastic packaging and tableware in supermarket and food and beverage industry.
One-third of land in Hong Kong is not regulated by any statutory land use planning and control system. In particular, private land with ecological value is vulnerable to unauthorized habitat destruction activities, modification of land use and development pressure. WWF urges the Government to consider these measures:
- Cover all land by statutory land use planning with Development Permission Area Plans and regulate land uses under Outline Zoning Plans ;
- Establish a regulated Conservation Trust to provide feasible alternatives to the landowners, such as land swaps, to resolve the current land rights deadlock, while securing land for biodiversity conservation through negotiation and long-term financing.