All citizens must be involved in sustainable development debate

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 August, 2007, 12:00am

I refer to the story, 'Report 'ignores ideas by public' ' (August 22), and your editorial, 'Consensus vital on population policy' (August 23), both regarding the Council for Sustainable Development's public engagement process on population policy.

The engagement process is the council's second important strategy-building exercise, since it was established in 2003. This particular exercise - which was complex and multi-faceted - gathered a wide range of stakeholder responses spanning issues including ageing, manpower training and fertility. With the assistance of the Public Policy Research Institute of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, an independent agency, the council has in its engagement report, grasped mainstream public sentiments and concerns, distilled them into principles and targets, and set out 24 recommendations, contributing to the government's formulation of a comprehensive population policy for Hong Kong. We have forwarded the institute's reported results to the government for its reference.

The council improved its engagement model since the first process in 2004 to make it more inclusive, transparent and effective. For our current and third engagement exercise on better air quality, the council started a thorough study and put forward 14 recommendations to the government in November 2006. Three key topics - a high air pollution alert system, road pricing and demand side energy conservation measures - have been selected for public engagement which will finish in mid-October.

The council will continue to improve its engagement process in the light of valuable stakeholder feedback. One idea is to list in our report all views or suggestions received, even those that do not feature in the council's recommendations. This will provide further reference for the government in its deliberations.

At the heart of the council's engagement process is consensus building. We need every citizen to take part in this process. The path to sustainable development is arduous, but the vision of Hong Kong as a sustainable world city will be realised if we take steps now.

Dr Edgar Cheng, chairman, Council for Sustainable Development