Advisory Council on the Environment

Sustainable Development in Hong Kong for the 21st Century Second Stage Public Consultation and the Sewage Services (Trade Effluent Surcharge) Regulation

(ACE Paper 48/99)
For discussion


This paper presents an overview of the preliminary findings of the Study on Sustainable Development for the 21st Century (SUSDEV 21), including:

  • the proposed definition for sustainable development;
  • the proposed guiding principles and sustainability indicators;
  • the proposed decision-support tool; and
  • the proposed institutional arrangements.


2.The SUSDEV 21 Study commenced in September 1997, with the main objectives of developing means to incorporate the concept of sustainable development into the decision-making process, and enhancing public awareness of the importance of sustainable development.

3.Between April and June 1998, the first stage public consultation was conducted, which set in motion an extensive awareness-raising and consultation programme on sustainable development. The Advisory Council on the Environment was consulted on 23.3.1998. The views gathered were consolidated in a Report on Public Consultation which was released in November 1998.

4.An extract of the minutes of the first stage public consultation meeting with the Council is attached at Annex A for Members' reference.

Objective of 2nd Stage Consultation

5.The main objective of the second stage public consultation is to continue and further the awareness-raising and consultation activities initiated under the first stage consultation, to reach out to more people and consult stakeholder groups on the key findings and recommendations of the Study.

Key Findings and Recommendations

Definition of Sustainable Development

6.Integrating the views gathered from the first stage consultation, a definition for sustainable development is proposed as follows:

"Sustainable development in Hong Kong balances social, economic and environmental needs, both for present and future generations, simultaneously achieving a vibrant economy, social progress and better environmental quality, locally, nationally and internationally, through the efforts of the community and the Government."

Guiding Principles and Sustainability Indicators

7.The guiding principles reflect the broad goals of sustainability. Altogether eight principles have been developed based on research and views collected from public consultations, covering:

  • Economy
  • Health and Hygiene
  • Natural Resources
  • Society and Social Infrastructure
  • Biodiversity
  • Leisure and Cultural Vibrancy
  • Environmental Quality
  • Mobility

8.Sustainability indicators provide a quantitative means of measuring the impact of a particular project or proposal against the guiding principles. As the indicators will be used in a decision support tool, they are carefully selected based on such criteria as representativeness, sensitivity to changes, easy interpretation, ability to show trends over time, availability of adequately documented data, and views collected at consultation meetings. Over 200 indicators have been studied and a total of 39 indicators have now been proposed.

Decision Support Tool

9.The indicators will be incorporated into a decision support tool, which is intended to enable the Government to assess possible cross-sectoral impacts of major new policies, to achieve sustainable development. The tool, which is still being developed, will have a built-in Geographic Information System with a comprehensive database to support the evaluation process.

Institutional Review

10.To promote better understanding and the implementation of sustainable development, a Council for Sustainable Development and a Sustainable Development Unit are proposed. The Council will provide expert advice to the Government and encourage the community to put the concept of sustainable development into practice. The Unit will provide support to the Council and monitor the carrying out of 'sustainability impact assessments' on major new policy proposals.

11.More details on the findings and recommendations are contained in the Consultation Document attached at Annex B.

Awareness Raising and Public Consultation

12.Sustainable development cannot be achieved without the public's support and participation. Our main theme for the second stage consultation is "Working Together for Sustainable Development - Changing How We Think and Act".

13.Within the 3-month consultation period, a wide range of activities including roving exhibition, consultation meetings and forums, seminar and workshops will be organised. These activities will target at different sectors of the community, to enhance awareness and solicit views. An Information Pamphlet (at Annex C) is available to the public at District Offices and exhibition venues.


14.Members are invited to express their views on the recommendations of the Study mentioned in paras. 6-11 above and any other comments related to sustainable development in Hong Kong. Written comments are welcomed and should be sent to the Planning Department no later than 31 January 2000.


Annex A   Extract of Minutes of the 49th Meeting of the Advisory Council on the Environment held on 23.3.1998

Annex B   Consultation Document

Annex C   Information Pamphlet


Planning Department
November 1999


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