22 Jun 2016

A Professor and the Undersecretary for the Environment talk about sustainability at FuturED#3

This week we hear from FuturED#3 speakers Christine Loh, Undersecretary for the Environment and Paul Clarke Professor of Education and Director/ Founder of Pop Up Foundation. Both speakers were invited to FuturED#3 Sustainability Hong Kong on 16 June 2016 an event that heard from the leading thinkers on environmental issues.

Christine Loh,  Undersecretary for the Environment   

 In government we are expected to work out the solutions. People often ask – why does it take so long to change anything? Well I will come on to that but our role in government is to look at the world now and take people on a journey with us. We need to look at the position we are in now and think how can we improve?

Hong Kong’s biodiversity is very rich but in the past 30 years the Pearl River Delta has change from being a mainly agricultural region to being a place of high industrial activity. There is a lot of green space in Hong Kong which is juxtaposition with high density housing. About 40 % of Hong Kong has been designated country park and we have done a lot to improve our air quality and water quality.

The Fair Winds Charter 2012 is a very important agreement between the shipping industry and the government where by container ships voluntarily switched to using cleaner fuels when they enter HK waters. In 2015 it was passed into law.  Air quality is not perfect but it has improved a lot and we plan to do more.

Victoria Harbour was Hong Kong’s toilet, full of human waste and pollution. In 1992 project HATS2A was launched, we planned to move the waste from the harbour on to Stone Cutters Island. The government argued about the best way to deal with the waste until 1999 when an expert panel was appointed. In 2000 the expert panel fed back to the government and building started. The project was finished in 2015 and cost 2bilion dollars to complete. The 1000 tons of waste that Hong Kong produces every day is used as a bio-fuel at T-Park in Tuen Mun the largest sludge treatment plant of its type.

Victoria Harbour is not as clean as Sydney or Stockholm but it is clean enough for water sports and we are working with biologists to clean it up more.

A major problem for Hong Kong is waste, in the next 10-20 years we need to do a great many things to clean up the waste. We are forming partnerships (e.g. Hong Kong sevens) to help address the amount of waste produced.

We are going to make people pay to throw away their rubbish but it is passing through legislation and the legal system demands that we explain what we are going to do in great detail.

My final sentence – think about beginning a career in politics it is a knowable profession and it needs people like you to make a difference.

Paul Clarke Professor of Education and Director/ Founder of Pop Up Foundation.

Intelligence is linking everything together, everything is connected now and forever. In the future you will all be eco-warriors – you will have to be because you will be dealing with the issues we created at the beginning of the industrial revolution. We have got to think about putting back in not just taking out. If we act smart together we can make a change.