Flash cards to be used to get message across to Hongkongers on sustainable consumption

Council for Sustainable Development hopes new engagement exercise can reach beyond policy-based approach to encourage people to see practical implications of excessive use of resources

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 August, 2016, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 August, 2016, 11:46am

The team tasked with engaging the public on the sustainable consumption of resources – such as plants, animals, fish and timber – hopes concepts such as “biodiveristy” and “sustainability” will be less foreign to the public after the exercise.

It is trying to get the message across to youngsters with an unusual strategy – 16 flash cards, which include illustrations, definitions and examples of resource use spiced liberally with Cantonese colloquialisms, puns, jokes and slang.

Professor Jonathan Wong Woon-chung, who convenes the Council for Sustainable Development’s public engagement support group, said the consultation would actually help drive interest in and understanding of other more “theoretical” government policies.

This includes things like the recently concluded planning stage for the city’s first biodiversity strategy and action plan (BSAP). A consultation document on this was criticised by some experts as being too bland and uninspiring.

“They wanted to introduce the concept of biodiversity but such a concept is very difficult to bring out. People could not relate it to their everyday life,” Wong said. “Their approach wasn’t so close to home as a lot of their thinking was done from a policy perspective.”

With the help of a public relations firm, the council has launched a campaign to present sustainability-related terminology to youngsters by using the flash cards.

“If the concept is strong, people will realise if I continue to use an unsustainable mode of consumption, I will affect the world’s resources and thus its biodiversity,” Wong said.

The council’s latest public engagement is not based on a policy, but it is supposed to “arouse awareness, stimulate discussion and explore ways” to encourage behavioural changes conducive to sustainability. Results and recommendations will be given to the Environment Bureau for reference for future policymaking.

Wong said one of the aims of the new public engagement exercise was to improve understanding of concepts among the public using a “bottom-up” approach.

“We wanted to find a way to deliver the message to the public in a more interesting and engaging way,” said schoolteacher Adrian So, who helped the council design the flash cards.

Popular historical figures make an appearance on the flash cards.

“Brother pigeon, I’m counting on you to help me deliver this letter,” says Zhuge Liang, the ancient Chinese strategist of Three Kingdoms fame, known for making use of carrier pigeons, to a bird in one card. The pigeon snaps back at him: “That’s not environmentally friendly! Its all about delivering messages electronically now.”