HONG KONG's role in the global 'Clean Up the World' campaign turned out a disappointment because of lacklustre involvement from local youth and community. Only 80 students showed up on cleaning-up day in Sai Kung and Tai Mo Shan Country Park the day after the Mid-Autumn festival.In contrast, millions of schoolchildren took to the streets and led the clean-up in Poland. Even the African nation of Lesotho, taking part in the grassroot campaign for the first time, had 20 public areas cleaned, while every province in the Philippines reported action. Lai Lai-fong, chairman of Green Power which worked to get Hong Kong youngsters involved, said: 'I'm disappointed with the level of government and industry support for our campaign to raise environmental awareness. The contributions from government agencies have not been very much.' The group received a meagre $20,000 from the Government, and none from local corporations. 'The size of student participation wasn't much either,' Ms Lai added. 'But the summer was just over, and many may have also felt they would have a late night celebrating the festival.' This happened despite the agency's effort to send letters to every school to recruit volunteers during the summer. The agency acknowledged that 'green fever' among young people has been cooling off in recent years. 'It's evident in their attitude,' a staff member said. 'Our younger membership hasn't declined, but they aren't as active as in the past.' But support from children is actually rising in other countries, said Ian Kiernan, chairman of Clean Up the World. Mr Kiernan founded the community-driven project three years ago in Australia. 'There is a huge pollution problem in Hong Kong harbour,' he said. 'Hong Kong is an affluent society, but support for the campaign was low compared to countries like Korea, which had nine million participants.' Mr Kiernan, a former national solo yacht racer, became aware of the world's dying oceans when he took part in an 'around the world race' in 1986. Single-handed, he started the 'Clean Up Sydney Harbour' campaign, and then 'Clean Up Australia', which snowballed into Clean Up the World, backed by the United Nations Environment Programme. This year 40 million volunteers from 107 nations helped fulfil Mr Kiernan's slogan, 'Think globally, act locally', through different programmes over the weekend of September 15 to 17. 'The major causes of environmental problems are ignorance and greed,' Mr Kiernan said. 'You can beat ignorance through education, and that's what we are doing with the world's young. 'But greed, whether for power or wealth, is more difficult to deal with. People need to be reminded that if they want to sustain their wealth, they have to regard the environment as the most important factor to achieve that.' He sees a short-sighted pre-occupation with money in big cities like Hong Kong and Taiwan. Taiwan is approaching an environmental crisis, he added. Many Asian countries are on the verge of a waste crisis because of the rapid pace of industrialisation, Mr Kiernan pointed out. 'It doesn't cost a lot of money to organise a clean-up, but clean-up is not the ultimate solution. It is a start that makes people realise they can make a difference. Where money counts is getting governments to put resources into new technology for waste-water treatment and clean industry. 'We say to the young people, just because the river is black doesn't mean it has to stay that way. If you care enough, you can change it.'