WWF’s Response to the HKSAR 2022-23 Budget
WWF welcomes the allocation of additional resources to help meet the carbon neutrality target before 2050 and promote a green city. In the long run, the government must invest in and provide incentives to small and medium enterprises with clear goals for a circular economy and targets for carbon neutrality. Doing so will diversify Hong Kong’s economy while promoting a more sustainable business model. For example, the government can set up a funding scheme for the F&B industry to develop measures to reduce single-use plastic, such as a roll out of incentive schemes for customers who bring their own tableware and replace disposable plastic with sustainable materials. For a “plastic smart city”, the government must allocate resources to develop a target and timeline to accelerate the “no plastic in nature” vision by 2030. We recommend government allocating more resources to expand the scope of Plastic Recycling Pilot Schemes to all districts, improve the waste management policy, develop a circular economy for single-use plastic, and educate public on eliminating the single-use culture.
WWF believes that, during the post-COVID green recovery period, green tourism can bring huge social and economic benefits to Hong Kong, for instance, from eco-tourism, scuba-diving, and fisheries. To avoid adding anthropogenic pressure to the already fragile natural environment, the government must study ecological carrying capacity and develop management plans, such as code of conduct, before launching any green tourism plans.
WWF agrees with government on dedicating resources to promote green and sustainable finance. Rather than the volume, we recommend the government to focus on the quality of the green bonds. Currently, there is a lack of standards and requirements for Green Bonds. To avoid green washing, the government must develop a science-based standard for green bond issuance that includes both biodiversity and climate impact. In the process of formulating the standard, the government can also take reference to the taxonomy in European Union or other regions.
Northern Metropolis Development Strategy
WWF agrees with the government to set up a dedicated fund for future development of Northern Metropolis and we urge the government to allocate funding and resources to establish a sustainable Northern Metropolis Office to kick-start consultation and stakeholder engagement. The office should also protect sites of conservation importance through effective policies and regulations, alleviate development pressure and ensure smooth transition from policy announcement to designation of protected areas. We also suggest formalising implementation of Strategic Environmental Assessments for a sustainable and climate resilient Northern Metropolis, which must incorporate principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity, including no net loss, the precautionary principle, wide stakeholder participation and traditional and scientific knowledge. For example, to avoid adverse impact on wildlife movement in the area, the government must carefully study the appropriate building height and development intensity limit for future Northern Metropolis development.
“Wetland connectivity is vital in providing important ecosystem service and habitats for many wildlife species. The government has the responsibility to explain the detailed conservation measures that can ensure the ecological value will be maintained or even enhanced to achieve the conservation goal. Development and biodiversity conservation must be integrated in mutual ways to sustain both in a world now dealing with a climate crisis that is now the most critical existential threat to humanity and other biodiversity. The government must take actions to ensure all infrastructure and development projects are climate-resilient, causing least impact to the environment and transforming Hong Kong into a more liveable city.” said Nicole Wong, CEO, WWF.
East Lantau Reclamation
WWF is concerned about the Lantau Tomorrow plan, as the Budget Speech states that the government is considering streamlining the development procedures, with a view to further advancing the development timetable. WWF reiterates our objection to the reclamation plan, as it will bring irreversible impacts on the biodiversity and ecosystem, and because the carbon emissions from construction works will undermine the government's commitment to carbon reduction. To effectively protect our waters and critical habitats, Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) must be incorporated into future development plans. We urge the government to establish a MSP authority and allocate adequate funding to kick-start the MSP process.
“Marine spatial planning is a science-based, accountable, and widely accepted public process that helps analyse and allocate the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities, to minimise conflicts and identify positive synergies among all sectors. We urge the government to commit a concrete, specific and timebound roadmap for increasing Marine Protected Area coverage to cover 30% of Hong Kong waters by 2030, in order to protect precious marine species and their habitats.” said Professor Laurence McCook, Director of Oceans Conservation, WWF.
Please refer to details of our Budget recommendations here.