Victoria Harbour can only be revived if the government, developers and anti-reclamation groups learn the art of compromise. That was the message from Sean O'Neill, director of communications with the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, and one of the guests at today's Designing Hong Kong Harbour District conference. He was speaking from experiences learned during Boston's 'Big Dig' - an ongoing project to open up the city's waterfront that involved putting roads underground. For more than a decade, the Big Dig put the city through the same traumas Hong Kong is now experiencing. But Mr O'Neill said the hard work was worth it. 'The end result is ... that [compromise] will bring the harbour back to life,' he said. 'It is difficult [to compromise] and that's not unusual because people get entrenched in their position. Compromise is the significant issue we learned from Boston.' Yesterday, he toured Victoria Harbour's waterfront in an open-topped bus. 'From my perspective, access is a major issue,' he said. Mr O'Neill said the public's wishes should not be ignored. 'We learned the hard way,' he said. 'One third of the cost [of the Big Dig] was litigation.' Redesigning Victoria Harbour was an opportunity for residents, businessmen and the government to work together to create something world-class. 'It is important that all the parties involved work together because the benefit will be for everyone,' he said. Mr O'Neill said that worldwide, waterfronts were being transformed from industrial areas to living, working environments. Paul Zimmerman, chief co-ordinator of the Designing Hong Kong Harbour District initiative, said today's event was the first international conference on sustainable planning for Victoria Harbour. 'The sharing of both local know-how and internationally acclaimed examples will help us to identify creative solutions for sustainable urban planning of the harbour district,' he said. The government is also participating in the conference, and the South China Morning Post is the event's media sponsor.