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Speech by CE at World Sustainable Built Environment Conference 2017 Hong Kong

Following is the speech by the Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, at the World Sustainable Built Environment Conference 2017 Hong Kong this morning (June 5):

Conrad (Chairman of the World Sustainable Built Environment Conference 2017 Hong Kong Organising Committee, Mr Conrad Wong), K K (Chairman of the Construction Industry Council, Mr Chan Ka-kui), Wong Bay (Chairman of the Hong Kong Green Building Council, Mr Bay Wong), Dr Qiu (representative of the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and Counsellor of the Counsellor's Office of the State Council, Dr Qiu Baoxing), distinguished guests, government colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning. Welcome to Hong Kong, and the World Sustainable Built Environment Conference.

I am delighted that Hong Kong has the honour of hosting this prestigious, triennial event, with more than a thousand of you here from over 50 countries and regions - sustainable building advocates, policymakers, architects, engineers, construction industry professionals, researchers, academics and so on.

As this year's conference theme makes clear, sustainable building is not just about buildings. It is also about creating a green and liveable neighbourhood through smart urban planning, innovative building design, and integration of eco-friendly technology.

You will find Hong Kong an interesting place - perhaps the perfect place - to experience the challenges and solutions in creating a sustainable built environment. For we are one of the densest, most dynamic urban environments in the world. Our landscape is mountainous with limited buildable space. We have a deep harbour in the middle of our city. And we have a population of more than 7 million people.

Creating a sustainable built environment in such compact space does come with challenges. Matthew, our Chief Secretary for Administration, will share with you in detail the Hong Kong Government's plan for meeting these challenges, and developing our city into a liveable, competitive and sustainable metropolis.

But let me just say that constraints are, sometimes, a blessing in disguise. In our case, the constraints have served to inspire. To drive us towards innovation. Our planners, engineers, architects, surveyors and other professionals have risen to the physical challenges.

Some of you may know that Hong Kong - back in the 1950s - was the first in the world to implement a seawater flushing system across the city. That solution was a response to the lack of local fresh water supply back then. Today, about 80 per cent of our population is covered by the seawater flushing system. That system, by the way, is eco-friendly - we conserve more than 700 000 cubic metres of potable water each and every day.

Environmental protection is part and parcel of a sustainable built environment. I am glad to report that Hong Kong is well on track to reducing carbon emissions, promoting energy efficiency and green building.

Hong Kong's Climate Action Plan 2030+, released earlier this year, sets out our new carbon-emission reduction target and the plans for meeting it. By 2030, we aim to reduce Hong Kong's carbon intensity by 65 to 70 per cent from the 2005 level.

Buildings account for 60 per cent of our carbon emissions. So promoting green building is a practical and effective way of achieving our reduction target.

My Government has built in statutory requirements and economic incentives to encourage the private sector to adopt green building practices. We are grateful to the Hong Kong Green Building Council for showing the way to sustainable building, with its BEAM Plus green building assessment scheme in place.

And I am pleased to say that the Government is leading by example. We are adopting energy-efficient and renewable energy technologies in government buildings.

Last December, the Hong Kong Green Building Council introduced BEAM Plus Neighbourhood, which assesses the sustainability performance of building clusters. This, of course, reflects this year's Conference theme. We should extend the green building concept to encompass district-wide considerations - smart urban planning, microclimates, connectivity and others. Indeed, the Hong Kong Government is now working on a new development strategy - the Hong Kong 2030+ study - to build Hong Kong into a sustainable, green and low-carbon city.

One of the notable features of Hong Kong as a sustainable city is the integrated public transport system. We integrate the different modes of public transport, often along and around our mass transit railway system to enhance complementarity. We also integrate housing, office and retail projects with railway stations and public transport terminals. As a result, we have been able to contain private car ownership rate to 71 per 1 000 population, as compared to 147 in Singapore, 310 in Japan and 562 in Australia.

The effectiveness of our railway network is also borne out by the increasing coverage of the services of our mass transit railway corporation, the MTRCL, outside Hong Kong. When the corporation takes over the operation of the new lines in England, Beijing and Sydney, its overseas network will count more than 2 000 kilometres.

Hong Kong, an active member of the global community, is committed to sharing our experiences with the world.

And that includes the other 660 cities in China. In particular, we will step up co-operation with the other 10 cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area. These cities are among the most prosperous ones in China, and are undergoing rapid development in recent years.

Hong Kong can contribute, as well, to a green built environment in countries along the Belt and Road, which is an initiative by China to enhance connectivity and co-operation among 60-plus countries on three continents. Hong Kong can, for example, introduce the use of low-carbon technology and construction materials, and help set green building standards and practices. I should add that Hong Kong firms and professionals have already been engaged in various construction and design projects in Belt and Road countries, such as Vietnam, Thailand and India.

It is through international co-operation that the global movement of sustainable building will find continuing momentum. And it is through such global initiatives as the World Sustainable Built Environment Conference that we will move forward.

Let us continue to work together, to plant the ideas and the projects, the partnerships and the collaborations, that will bring sustainability to our children, and the planet that they will inherit.

My thanks to the Construction Industry Council and the Hong Kong Green Building Council for organising this very meaningful conference. I wish you all a rewarding and enjoyable stay in Hong Kong.


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