WWF’s Recommendations for the 2019-2020 Budget – Transform Hong Kong into Asia’s Most Sustainable City
1. Land supply: cease studies on using country parks for housing purposes and support a Conservation Trust
Country parks are a precious public asset and should continue to be fully protected. We therefore urge the government to cease further studies on country parks for land supply. Rather, the government should invest in enhancing the values of our country parks for the benefit of wildlife as well as local and overseas eco visits. An independent statutory Conservation Trust is also needed to safeguard and finance the long-term holistic biodiversity management of ecologically important sites.
2. Land supply: prioritise brownfields and devise fair and open compensation mechanisms
“Brownfields first” meets public expectations. We recommend the government to speed up the resumption of brownfield sites and develop a fair compensation mechanism to enable timely release of land for housing development.
3. Land supply: initiate marine spatial planning and only propose reclamation as last resort
Marine spatial planning is crucial in striking a balance between growing human usage and conservation of marine resources, which should be financed and initiated by the government immediately. This should be done before any reclamation decision is made to avoid irreversible impact on ecologically sensitive marine areas.
4. Safeguard marine ecosystems: expand marine protected areas to 30% of waters in Hong Kong and tackle marine litter
The current coverage of designated or planned marine protected areas (MPA) at 5% of Hong Kong waters is grossly inadequate to compensate decades of intense coastal development. Public funds should be granted now in conducting feasibility studies for the establishment of MPAs to conserve at least 30% of Hong Kong waters by 2030 with 10% by 2020 as interim target, along with funds to support co-management and compensation if deem required. Additional funding to tackle marine litter at source is also needed to protect the health of our marine ecosystems.
5. Step up enforcement by treating wildlife crime as a serious crime
Hong Kong is a major transit hub for illegal wildlife trade as well as one of the world’s largest ivory retail markets. Apart from increasing investigative power by including wildlife crime offences under Schedule 1 of the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance (OSCO), dedicated resources are required to enable intelligence exchange on transnational criminal syndicates. Sufficient funding is also needed to strengthen forensics evidence gathering capabilities to support a higher rate of prosecution.
6. Attain 10% renewable energy target by 2030 and buildings energy efficiency through government financial commitments and green financing
An aggressive renewable energy (RE) target of 10% by 2030 and long-term building energy efficiency improvements are needed if Hong Kong is to meet its commitments on climate change. The government should release and support RE installations at public open spaces. Budget measures to attract large scale local RE installations, different sources of RE via recycling and building energy enhancement projects via green bond and green finance are also needed.