The following is a speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Donald Tsang, at the Corporate Membership Award Presentation Ceremony held by the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) Hong Kong at the Government House this evening (September 5) (English only):
Mr Shaw, Dr Kwok, Sir David, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to join you all for this Corporate Membership Award Presentation Ceremony. It gives me a chance, once again, to pay tribute to the valuable support our business sector has given to protecting our natural environment, and to thank these companies on behalf of the community. The partnership approach adopted for the scheme is a model that is well worth supporting because the natural environment is a valuable community asset that requires concerted and ongoing efforts to protect and maintain.
Although Hong Kong is a small place, we are home to a fascinating diversity of wildlife and habitats. These not only provide a precious resource for conservation education, they also offer considerable potential for sensitively planned recreational and eco-tourism activities.
Conservation of the environment and our natural resources is essential if we are to develop Hong Kong in a sustainable manner for future generations. But we need the active support and involvement of the community to preserve our natural heritage in the long run and we have to tackle bureaucratic red tape too. In this regard, the WWF has always been our willing partner, working tirelessly over the years to raise public awareness about the importance of nature conservation as well as soliciting support from different sectors of the community to achieve this worthy goal.
The WWF has been managing one of our most outstanding sites since 1984 - the Mai Po Nature Reserve - and has developed a close working relationship with the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department to protect this important habitat. The WWF also organizes educational programmes and guided visits to the site to help people - particularly our youth - better appreciate the precious natural resources that we must protect and nurture.
The WWF has also taken a strong interest in the preservation of rare and endangered species in Hong Kong, such as the black-faced spoonbill and the Chinese white dolphin.
The Corporate Management Programme is yet another example of how the WWF has helped raise awareness about our natural heritage and devised practical ways to help our corporate citizens play a meaningful role in protecting and preserving our flora and fauna.
We in government are also looking for practical ways to help us better preserve and conserve our natural heritage. We have recently conducted a review of our existing nature conservation policies and measures. And we are in the midst of a three-month consultation on that review.
The conservation of ecologically important sites under private ownership is one important area we are addressing. Our review has concluded that the most practical option to better protect these sites is through partnerships with key stakeholders including landowners, developers and non-governmental organizations. We have drawn up proposals based on this partnership approach and the details are set out in the consultation document.
Just like this Corporate Membership Programme, the success of our nature conservation initiatives requires your active participation and support. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage you all to read the consultation document and to give us your ideas on how better to achieve our nature conservation objectives, and how we can best strike a balance between the need to protect our environment, and the need to develop our land resources. The government looks forward to generating more opportunities for greater co-operation and more partnerships in nature conservation.
Finally, I would like to congratulate all of the companies receiving awards today and thank all of you once again for devoting your time, energy and resources to protecting our natural heritage. Hong Kong owes you our deepest thanks and appreciation.
Thank you very much.
Ends/Friday, September 5, 2003