Hong Kong must focus on ‘liveability’ to improve its sustainability ranking

City is 16th out of 100 worldwide on new Sustainable Cities Index, and second only to Singapore for employment, economic development and ease of doing business

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 September, 2016, 1:49pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 September, 2016, 7:56pm

Hong Kong’s a great place to do business, but it will need to invest in projects like parks that make it more liveable if it’s going to maintain its global competitiveness, according to design and consultancy firm Arcadis.

The city ranks 16th out of 100 cities worldwide on Arcadis’ just-released Sustainable Cities Index, buoyed by its “profit” ranking which sees Hong Kong ranked second only to Singapore for employment, economic development and ease of doing business.

But when it comes to Hong Kong’s liveability and affordability, there’s still work to be done, says the firm’s newly-appointed chief executive for Asia, Matt Bennion.

“That isn’t just measured by long working hours, that’s measured by the ability to get out and do things at the weekend,” he told the Post.

Bennion says there’s an opportunity to include “social infrastructure” in urban developments, projects like public parks and Hong Kong’s Velodrome.

“Those are the sorts of things that create diversity for people in terms of their ability to live and work in a city.”

Hong Kong ranked 81st for the “people” measure, which assesses a city’s income inequality, work-life balance and affordability, among other measures.

Seven mainland China cities ranked higher than Hong Kong on that measure, although ranked below Hong Kong overall.

This year’s overall Hong Kong ranking is a fall from last, which saw the city in 8th overall for sustainability.

If things were to continue as they are with the level of [property] activity and the level of investment, it would drive a bigger gap in affordability and wouldn’t be sustainable
Matt Bennion, chief executive for Asia, Arcadis

“You’re seeing a very increased level of [property] activity at the moment which is showing some worrying signs that could well become a trend.”

He expects that to “settle down” although he said property unaffordability was still a “critical issue” for Hong Kong.

“If things were to continue as they are with the level of activity and the level of investment, it would drive a bigger gap in affordability and wouldn’t be sustainable,” Bennion said.

“There are clearly plans in place and they seem sound. It’s really just about seeing those through and not getting blown off track with that agenda.”

Hong Kong’s government policy to make the city more sustainable isn’t wrong, but other cities were moving forward and making balanced investments across the people and profit aspects of life, he said.

“The good news is that no one city [in the world] balances those three things perfectly,” he said, referring to profit, people and protecting the planet.

 

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