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Future Proofing Wetland Stewardship
© WWF-Hong Kong

To create a better future for life on Earth, it is important to combine creative solutions with human discipline. Utilising design thinking and social innovation skills may help us find new paths and new ways in which to coexist with nature. Securing the future of wetlands is a vital pathway: the world needs more people to become engaged in wetland stewardship and drive collaborative efforts to conserve wetlands.

Wetland stewardship has multiple areas of involvement, with fishponds being an important component. Participants can start by examining different threats, and then use design thinking and social innovation to develop sustainable solutions for wetland management.


Walk & Pitch Competition

Walk & Pitch Competition
© WWF-Hong Kong

Making aquacultural stewardship a sustainable industry requires the collaboration between people with talents in business management, innovative technology and social sciences. This competition brought together participants with different expertise and had them contribute their ideas about how to make aquaculture management more sustainable.
The selected participants pitched their innovative ideas and solutions to the judges during a five-minute wetland walk. Their pitch had to grab the attention and spark the curiosity of the judges – not an easy task! The chosen teams were competing for a project kick-starter fund of HK$50,000 that would then be used to turn their imaginative ideas into reality.

Design goals:  
•  Preserve or even enhance the ecological value of fishponds and aquaculture farms e.g. Maintain fishponds and aquaculture farms for water birds to feed and rest, provide breeding grounds for diverse animals  
•  Fishponds aquaculture farms serve as a “sponge” to mitigate flood  

The participants could pick one of the following challenges for their pitch:  
1) Incubate additional or alternative income streams and strategies for local aquacultural ponds.  
2) Create an innovative business models that will increase demand for or the accessibility of local aquacultural products.  
3) Develop a community programme to increase public knowledge about and the relatability of local aquacultural ponds and/or aquacultural products.  

The winning team:  
Team Edge Effect ’s project proposed to enhance the edges of fishponds by reprofiling them, thus creating space to engage and educate the next generation. Their proposal also sought to provide a self-sustaining economic system for fishpond operators, and connect and enrich the ecological corridors along the semi-abandoned fishpond edges. As the winners of the kick-starter fund and our assistance, we look forward to seeing their vision comes to life!

Youth Innovator

 Youth Innovator
© WWF-Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, fishponds provide freshwater fish for consumption. They also have high ecological value because of the ecosystem services they provide – specifically, buffer areas for climate mitigation and habitats for large numbers of birds. Meanwhile, humanity’s next generation is facing a number of challenges as the impacts of climate change begin to rapidly multiply. Protecting nature has become an enormous, worldwide task.

This section of the Wetland Incubator project recruited a group of youth innovators in September 2021. With support from MaD (Make a Difference), these young innovators learned to collaborate with different stakeholders, understand wetland-related social issues and create innovative solutions to pressing problems. The youth innovators were divided into three groups, each focusing on either research, educational promotion or product making. Their outputs include questionnaires and data analysis, a “Something’s Fishy” Facebook page that debunks myths about freshwater fish and an informative leaflet and video that provide freshwater fish recipes.

Sharing from participants

This is a complex challenge – what techniques did you use to create a solution?

Group 1 – Sonics:
Our team wanted to perform research. We thought the best way to tackle freshwater fish issues was to first look at what policies and schemes are being implemented in Hong Kong to encourage sustainable fisheries. We designed an online questionnaire to collect data and understand what the public knows about the Accredited Fish Farm Scheme (AFFS) and received 144 responses. The results were interesting: they showed that of the 80% of respondents who said they would eat freshwater fish, more than half said they would eat it two or three times a month, the rest would eat it more frequently. Nearly half of the 35% of respondents who were aware of the AFFS would support the scheme, and nearly 90% would be willing to pay more for fish from the AFFS.

Group 2 – Ivory:
Going to supermarkets and local wet markets to interview people about their thoughts and preferences on freshwater fish was quite a lengthy process. It was interesting talking to fish shop owners and customers – we discovered that a lot of them share the same opinions: that freshwater fish have too many bones, have a distinct muddy taste and are generally less clean and hygienic. We discovered many iconic freshwater fish dishes that people enjoy, but they just weren’t as popular as marine fish dishes. This prompted a brainstorming session on the reasons behind this perception.


Group 3 – Megan:
To restore public confidence in freshwater fish, we started by eliminating a few misconceptions and misunderstandings held by Hong Kong citizens. Our team produced an online video of a carp recipe to reach out to more people. We added local seasonal vegetables to the recipe to make the idea more down to earth and environmentally friendly.