BEING able to establish new links with mainland authorities is one of the most enticing aspects of the World Congress on the Environment, according to a Hong Kong legislative councillor and speaker at the event. Independent legislator Christine Loh Kung-wai said the conference, attracting hundreds of environmental experts and news teams from around the world, would provide a vehicle for co-operation. 'The conference is an international gathering of impressive government bodies and non-governmental organisations,' Ms Loh said. 'It is a promotion of the problems of urban growth and the environment and it will probably attract a lot of attention from opinion leaders and opinion makers in Hong Kong.' But one of the most promising aspects of the congress was the involvement of a large number of mainland representatives, interested to share environmental concerns and solutions with Hong Kong and other countries. 'This is a good occasion for us to mingle with representatives from the PRC,' Ms Loh said. 'We are interested to hear about their problems and I am sure they are keen to see our problems and look at how we are handling them.' Ms Loh is scheduled to speak on 'Economic Development - At What Price?' in the session 'Government and the Community': the combined role of central and local governments in tackling the urban degradation of low-income areas. 'I am talking about development in the Hong Kong context - what are the costs and benefits of various projects,' Ms Loh said. 'We are going to have to change our political and economic structures if we go down the road of sustainable development. Most people would doubt that we can keep going the way we are.' People were becoming more aware of the environment because they regularly felt the effects of certain projects. Government plans to fill in a larger area of Victoria Harbour for reclamation had brought a howl of angry protest as people realised how development plans would impact on their lives, Ms Loh said. 'Do you have to invest in reclamation?' she asked. 'Does it mean there are no other ways for us to invest? My argument is, of course, no. There are other roads we can go down. 'You have to decide at what stage you want legislation - you have to decide what is the public interest and who decides the public interest.' Hong Kong people were demanding greater rights to protect their lives in the face of development.