The following is the speech (English only) by the Financial Secretary, Mr Antony Leung, at WWF Hong Kong Corporate Membership Award Presentation Ceremony at Government House Ballroom this (August 24) evening:
Mr (Markus) Shaw, friends of the environment,
I am delighted to be here today to participate in the presentation of the corporate membership awards, and to congratulate the World Wide Fund for Nature Hong Kong on its 20th anniversary. WWF has contributed significantly to making all of us more aware of the need to care for our environment.
During the past two decades, the environment in Hong
Kong has been put under increasing pressure on a number of fronts - a rising population, a sharp increase in the number of motor vehicles on our roads, and the increasing industrialisation of the region. But I am pleased to say that we are making headway through tougher legislation and a growing awareness amongst the community of the need to keep our environment clean.
This is particularly so in relation to one of the most visible environmental challenges in Hong Kong - air pollution. For example, in the last five months of 2000, the levels of two major pollutants - respirable suspended particulates (RSP) and nitrogen oxide - decreased considerably when compared with the same period in 1999. RSP was down 13% and NOx by 10%. The number of Air Pollution Index readings exceeding 100 also decreased by 24% and 86% at roadside and other stations respectively in the first six months of this year. These levels will continue to drop as measures introduced by the government to reduce motor vehicle emissions come into full play.
And I would like to thank the business community for its growing support for environmental causes. Over the past couple of years, we have been lobbied hard on the need to take positive action to clean up the environment if we are to become Asia's world city. We are beginning to see some results. A clean, unspoiled living environment is vital for the health of all our citizens and for the competitiveness of Hong Kong. This is even more important in today's business environment where the success of a city hinges on its ability to attract talent from all over the world. Our tranquil countryside adds to our attractiveness as Asia's world city.
There is no doubt that Hong Kong, with its world-class business environment, is a magnet for multinational corporations wanting to establish a base here. Last year, the number of regional headquarters or offices in Hong Kong increased by 20%. And we are improving our living environment in keeping with this development. In the process of providing effective environmental protection, we hope to build up supporting industry here that will create new jobs and new opportunities.
As the Chief Executive has said, we want to make Hong Kong a showcase for a quality environment. A city that is able to offer comprehensive services, such as financial, technical and consultancy advice to support environmental improvements in the Asia-Pacific region. If we can develop suitable innovative environmental protection technologies, we can help create a green and sustainable environment for Hong Kong and the region.
While I have mentioned the economic reasons for the need to protect the environment, we are really doing it for ourselves and the future generations. We all want to breathe clear air, we want to enjoy clean beaches, we love to see clear sky. Today's event testifies to the joint effort of the corporate sector, the World Wide Fund for Nature and the government in achieving this objective. We must not forget that all of us have an important role to play. No matter whether we are at work, at home or at play, let's work together for a better environment.
Thank you very much.
End/Friday, August 24, 2001