For information and discussion
on 5 March 1999
Panel on Environmental Affairs
Working Programme to DevelopPurpose
This paper sets out for Members' information the timetable to which the Environment Division of PELB is working to develop new environmental policies and initiatives. This is in response to a request made by the Chairman during the joint Environmental Affairs & Transport panel meeting on 15 January 1999.
2. In order to contribute to shaping a more sustainable future for Hong Kong, environmental policies need to be directed towards achieving three things:
- Reducing emissions and waste;
- Conserving a productive, vibrant and enjoyable natural environment;
- Providing information and setting objectives that will guide future choices by the public sector, business and individuals, towards more efficient use of resources and a more attractive urban environment.
3. Clearly c) above requires public involvement in the setting of objectives and in the making of choices, but public participation in preparing other policies and programmes for pollution control and environmental improvement is also essential if these are to command support and be implemented effectively.
4. There is very high awareness throughout the community of the impact of deteriorating environmental conditions and the need to make improvement. Considerable willingness is indicated in general terms to support environmental improvement measures. But many of the solutions are complex and require changes in habit, business practices, economic frameworks and legislative controls. Specific proposals have often led to opposition from the individuals or groups who may need to change their behaviour or practices in order for improvements to be made.
5. The pressures facing Hong Kong's environment, stemming from a large and growing population with high aspirations for material and social progress, are intense. Quite substantial changes in approach are going to be needed if those pressures are to be met and managed in a way that enables economic, environmental and social improvement to be achieved together.
6. To involve political, business and community groups more closely in the development of environmental policies, to provide forums for the sharing of information and ideas and the building of consensus, and to help prepare the wider community for the choices that will have to be made if the urban, rural and marine environment is to be improved, a structured programme of outreach and discussion has been prepared. This is described below.
The Working Programme
7. To start the process, two forums will be held on 10th and 11th March. Political groups, business associations, professional institutions, academic institutions, community groups, public service agencies and advisory bodies have been invited to send representatives. An introductory presentation will be given on the challenges that confront Hong Kong's environment, and the general nature of changes that would be needed to achieve environmental improvement. Participants will then be invited to join in discussion of the type of objectives that should be set for the quality of the environment. The ideas raised in each forum will be recorded and shared with those attending the other forum, and with interested parties who are not able to attend.
8. Participants will also be invited to either join or contribute proposals to a number of working groups that will be set up. These working groups will consider particular areas of environmental performance and develop ideas for improvement. They will be asked to meet over the period between the end of March and the end of June, and prepare reports that can be shared with all participants. The proposals developed by the working groups will be used as a basis for preparation of a green paper on new environmental policies to be issued by the end of the year.
9. The contacts established through this process will be used subsequently to consider the public responses to the green paper and to help prepare for the white paper to be issued in 2000. It is hoped that they will also be interested in contributing to the monitoring, review and development of programmes that are set out in the white paper.
10. While this paper is submitted for information, Member's advice and suggestions on the process set out above would be welcome. All Members of the Council have been invited to join themselves or to send representatives to take part in the process, and the proposals and reports generated from the forums and working groups will be sent to Members as they are produced.
Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau