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Problems facing Hong Kong

Development in Hong Kong and other major cities needs to become more sustainable. Hong Kong, however, faces additional problems such as potential increases in population and a corresponding need for additional housing and many other facilities. The SAR needs to adapt existing concepts of development and planning and adopt a system more sympathetic to a sustainable growth pattern and taking into account historical, cultural and environmental factors.
By the end of 1999, the Government will have the results of the HK$40m study, ‘Sustainable Development for the 21st Century’ (SUSDEV21). This independent study is assessing and evaluating an improved administration system to ensure that relevant aspects of development proposals are co-ordinated and balanced. This balance between continuing economic growth and commitment to sustainability is vital to Hong Kong.
In April, the Government, following up on proposals made in the Chief Executive's 1998 Policy Address, stated that it was now compulsory for all departments to publish annual environmental reports accounting for the impact their policies would have on the environment. The first reports, to be published in 2000, will allow Hong Kong to monitor its growth and encourage awareness of sustainability issues.
The government has recently made other efforts to improve the environment. For example, the proposed Strategic Sewage Development Strategy aimed at preventing the deterioration of marine water quality around Hong Kong and the proposal to ensure that taxis run on LPG rather than diesel, are all measures to control pollution in the environment. However, the EPD and Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau (PELB) can only do so much to promote sustainability, Hong Kong needs to develop a systematic and integrated approach across the various relevant government departments. To support and complement the government’s approach a culture needs to be developed, within society as a whole, that makes sustainability a top priority.
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