Hong Kong to become China “Green City”?

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    press release from Civic Exchange: Call to declare Hong Kong "China’s Green City" Hong Kong, 6 November, 2006 — A new report by Civic Exchange calls for a comprehensive strategy to conserve and manage Hong Kong’s unique natural assets. The report has been submitted today to the Chief Executive, the HKSAR Government Directors of Planning, Lands and Environmental Protection, the Executive and Legislative Councils, the Town Planning Board, the Advisory Committee on the Environment and to relevant District Councillors. The report entitled "Our Place – Our Time" is focused on Hong Kong’s unique asset, its rural land. The report is produced by Civic Exchange in co-operation with Living Islands Movement (LIM) and a number of other environmental concern groups in Hong Kong. The report describes how Hong Kong is beyond being merely a ‘world class’ city: it is well placed to claim to be ‘China’s greenest city’ because it is equatorial, by the open sea and has a diversity of trees, flowers, birds, insects and marine life that is unique in China and the world. It is defined as a unique asset that has been aptly described as a national treasure. Eric Spain, spokesperson of LIM said: "Our untouched countryside provides a constant backdrop to the urban areas and is readily accessible: the people of most large cities have to travel for hours to reach the rural pleasures that we can reach in minutes. Development of ‘eco-tourism’ would greatly help the micro-economies of rural villages.

    "What was once ‘Crown Land’ now belongs to the people – Our Place – and it is now time – Our Time – to sustain it for future generations." Christine Loh, Chief Executive of Civic Exchange explained, "The value of this countryside to the people and the economy needs to be better understood. If the development trajectory of the past continues and our land is devoured through piecemeal development, a priceless asset will be destroyed forever. Future generations may come to ask what kind of people we were to have allowed this to happen.

    "This paper "Our Place – Our Time" provides a starting point to discussing and envisaging the future and provides a list of issues that need to be studied and addressed such as the administrative and legal systems together with the processes that will encourage public participation, identification, appreciation and ownership of our unique and invaluable asset."

    Our Place – Our Time, Hong Kong’s Unique Asset: Our Rural Land

    The report has several endorsements from organisations, including this – by me, on behalf of Hong Kong Outdoors: I wish to endorse the arguments presented in the paper, including the fact that "Hong Kong’s countryside is a unique and irreplaceable asset"; also that we need holistic, strategic planning, and should foster a culture of caring for the environment, both within the government and within the community. Indeed, the paper’s aims would seem similar to those the Hong Kong Government outlined in Agenda 21, and the HK government’s laudable aims for sustainable development. For example: as our Chief Executive Mr Donald Tsang told the Legislative Council on 23 October 2002 (when he was Chief Secretary for Administration): "sustainable development demands that we seek better ways of living and working that enable us to lead healthy, fulfilling, economically secure lives, while preserving the environment and the future welfare of our people. In short, it is about improving the quality of lives for ourselves and future generations." These are fine words indeed. However, "preserving the environment" does not appear to be the government’s priority. As the paper indicates, plans for Lantau could result in major environmental damage. Elsewhere, too, we see some important places are under threat, including the Frontier Closed Area, the Soko Islands. For the Frontier Closed Area, the government has said the environment will be protected, but produced no details on how this will be achieved, whilst producing development plans. Hong Kong is indeed special, environmentally. How many other "world cities" rival our geographical setting? How many others have such networks of world-class hiking trails on their doorsteps, or can boast such impressive biodiversity, including endemic species as well as species that are globally endangered? Perhaps no other major city can boast such a combination. We indeed need sound, thoughtful, holistic planning in order that Hong Kong continue to prosper, whilst retaining its superb natural assets. Dr Martin Williams Founder


    Here’s main text from an email I sent back in January, after first hearing of the idea that Hong Kong become China’s green city: just had google for "green city" China; and not new idea. – seems, though, it tends to mean a city doing some env stuff, rather than one in natural setting with lots of greenery. But Dalian and Nanjing local govts (see below) maybe have some grasp of the idea; more, by the looks of things, than Donald and Henry. Give us something to compete with. Maybe UNEP to aim for, but think this is for govts to attempt. (see interview from Nanjing – try to imagine someone high in HK govt giving equivalent responses ) Spiel below. But just occurring to me, too – Hong Kong has bauhinia as symbol; also dolphin for handover. Nanning, Guizhou, aiming to be green city:  [I’ve been; not struck by greenery]

    Henan capital, Zhengzhou is China’s model for the planting of trees in urban areas and is therefore called the "green city."

    Green (here, meaning eco-friendly) cities to be built from scratch: British design consultancy Aruphas announced that it has been tapped by the Chinese government to lead the construction of an "eco-city" expansion to Shanghai. Dongtan, the expanded development near Shanghai’s airport, will eventually cover about 8,800 hectares — roughly the size of Manhattan island. Shanghai claimsthat the Dongtan project will be "the world’s first genuinely eco-friendly city," using recycled water, cogeneration and biomass for energy, and striving to be as carbon-neutral as possible. The first phase, a 630 hectare development including a mix of transport facilities, schools, housing and high-tech industrial spaces, will begin construction late next year, and is expected to be completed by 2010.

    So what does it mean to be a "genuinely eco-friendly city?" Arup gives this overview:

    Priority projects include the process of capturing and purifying water in the landscape to support life in the city. Community waste management recycling will generate clean energy from organic waste, reducing landfills that damage the environment. Combined heat and power systems will provide the technology to source clean and reliable energy. Dongtan will be a model ecological city, and its buildings will help to reduce energy use, making efficient use of energy sources and generating energy from renewable sources.

    The express goal for the Chinese government is to use the Dongtan development as a template for future urban design. This isn’t the only green city project in China. In July, we noted that William McDonough had drafted a master plan for building the city of Huangbaiyu as a "cradle-to-cradle" model city. Phase 1 construction, with forty new homes built using advanced construction materials, should be completed by October. As McDonough’s plan is arguably at leastas "eco-friendly" as the Dongtan project is supposed to be — and is already well underway — Shanghai’s claim that Dongtan will be the first one is a bit dubious.

    I’ve had slight involvement in project to build env friendly city south of Shanghai; some ideas in plan dodgy. Milton Keynes type place hardly real "green" to me Beijing, China’s capital city, has drawn up an ambitious plan to have its green land coverage increased to 40 percent by 2005 and 45 percent by 2010. Beijing Mayor Liu Qi announced the plan to build the capital into a "green metropolis" at a teleconference on afforestation Thursday. we already better that for greenery

    I mentioned Dalian: Located on the picturesque Liaodong Peninsula, in the center of Northeast Asia economic zone, strategically within short distance from Japan, South Korea and the Far East regions of Russia, Dalian is, and has been, the most dynamic seaport city of Northern China. International trade has developed from these strategic areas to that of international proportions molding Dalian into a greater international center covering everything from finance to tourism now with new ever expanding parameters. After effectively transforming itself from that of a city of heavy industry in 1995 to that of a "Green City", Dalian is the first city in China to receive the "Global 500" award for human habitation and excellent living environment by UNEP – United Nations Environment Program.

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