SPEAK UP FOR THE ENVIRONMENT!
Hong Kong's first environmental petition platform
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We are pleased to announce that SupportHK officially launched on Sunday 15th December with nine petitions (three petitions had already run their course and closed by the launch date). Although an unusually wet and cold December day, the event was attended by journalists, petition organisers and signers as well as some curious members of the public.
We kicked off with a few words of welcome from SUPPORT HK Manager Kelly Chan. In Kelly’s words, “we have so many environmental challenges and we all want to see action on issues that affect us the most”.
Indeed, Hong Kong faces more environmental challenges than ever. In a year when WHO classified outdoor air pollution as a leading cause of cancer, Hong Kong suffered air pollution in excess of WHO’s short term guidelines for 85% of the time (up to the end of November). With about 6 -7 years until all three landfills are exhausted, Hong Kong is struggling to stem its waste generation currently at 13,500 tonnes per day. And development pressure increasingly threatens our unique country parks.
In recognition of such pressures, key insights and perspectives of why green citizenship in Hong Kong is important now more than ever, were provided by our four guest speakers:-
Known for her concern about environmental issues and having lobbied extensively for a greener urban environment in LegCo, Tanya Chan Suk-chong said she was delighted to see a petition platform dedicated to such local issues, noting the importance of uniting people together.
Popular singer-songwriter Chet Lam Yat-fung known for addressing environmental issues in his inspirational songs, recognized that every individual effort can help in creating a better environment.
Motivated by a strong family connection of three generations to Pound Lane, Sai Ying Pun, Gigi Lau Wing-gi talked about the importance of protecting Hong Kong’s heritage and our urban environment.
This was echoed by Fred Lam Fai, well known social activist and one of the last standing protesters before the demolition of Queen’s Pier in 2007. Fred hopes that Support HK will create a mechanism for both individuals and organizations to support each other to safeguard our environment.
Five petition organisers presented their petitions (see below). While all are locally focused its striking how such a relatively small city as Hong Kong can also have such a significant impact on important global issues:
1. ‘Ban the Hong Kong Ivory Trade’ as elephants move uncomfortably close to extinction, Hong Kong’s ivory trade persists as a result of legal loopholes. This trade drives the rampant poaching of elephants worldwide. All trade must stop and all stockpiles in Hong Kong of the illegal trade should be destroyed. To date, only 292 more signatures are needed to reach the 10000 goal.
2. ‘Remove shark-related products, including fins, from the menus of all Traditional Chinese Restaurants/Food Outlets, unless the products are proven to be from a sustainable source’. Hong Kong remains the global trade hub for shark fins while shark populations are continuously declining worldwide driven by this trade. A moratorium on serving shark fin soup and shark products in restaurants is needed to allow populations to recover. To date, 41 signatures of 10,000 are needed.
3. ‘Object to plans to develop and destroy Hoi Ha, one of Hong Kong’s areas of outstanding natural beauty adjacent to Hoi Ha Marine Park will be developed for village housing with little consideration of the environmental sensitivity of the area’. The development is triple the size of the village. The Town Planning Board is requested to reconsider its plan in light of the unique nature of the site. To date, 1143 signatures of 5000 are needed.
4. ‘Save the Hong Kong Trail – The Lugard road family walking trail (voted one of the world’s top ten trails) is threatened by proposals to develop a boutique hotel’. There are safety concerns due to the extremely narrow right of way as well as environmental issues. Town Planning Board is requested to halt this development now. To date, 676 signatures of 100,000 are still needed.
5. ‘Know your puppy’s background – insisting on visiting the breeder!’ Every year thousands of puppies are bred in appalling conditions in puppy mills away from the public eye. Many live miserable lives, many die and many end up abandoned; every year around 7,000 dogs are destroyed by the government alone. Public support for new dog breeding laws is requested as well as the additional requirement for the buyers right to visit the breeder. To date, 42 signatures of 50,000 are needed.
As existing petitions progress and new ones come on line, we will continue to keep you updated! While the site has been up and running since mid October, the helpful feedback from you, our users, has allowed us to set our official launch date for December 15th. In response to your feedback we are simplifying the petition signing procedure, making it quicker, and more user friendly. Thanks to you it will be up and running soon!