Q: What is the one big idea you have for Hong Kong's future? A: We must think globally instead of locally - be a visionary dreamer to transform Hong Kong Albert Oung is wearing a green jacket and a green tie; his WhatsApp profile picture is a green rose; his office is named Green House and his mobile number includes five sixes - luk in Cantonese, which means, of course, green. Oung is the founder of the World Green Organisation (WGO) and the Hong Kong branch of global political group the Green Party. "People call me Mr Green," he says. Green has become the go-to word used - and misused - in abundance as a label for environmental sustainability, but Oung makes an effort to properly define it. "Green means more than being environmentally friendly and sustainable," he says. "It is about a mentality or a set of values encouraging sharing, helping each other, being responsible, compassionate, honest and having integrity." He believes they are values the city now needs to remember. "Hong Kong needs to unify with one heart," he says. "We cannot let some minority groups of Hong Kong people kidnap important issues." Presented with the challenge of how Hong Kong should move into the future, Oung's ideas are both revolutionary and pragmatic. More than that, he is already on the case. While Hong Kong is ranked a healthy seventh out of 144 economies for competitiveness, in Asia it lags behind Singapore - in second place - and Japan. And it was given a tough warning from the World Economic Forum, which compiles the index, that it had to ramp up efforts on higher education - where it ranks 22nd - and innovation - where it fell to 26th place. Oung is already addressing these two issues through the WGO's annual competition aimed at unleashing students' imagination in coming up with innovative designs to tackle social problems. The social element backs up Oung's belief that you can't be competitive without being green. Indeed, the city's high pollution levels have been increasingly cited as a factor in reducing Hong Kong's ability to attract and keep talent - an important element when it comes to measuring competitiveness. "We must think globally instead of locally - be a visionary dreamer to transform Hong Kong from an international finance centre to another global level altogether, as an international green city," says Oung. "We can blend our Hong Kong spirit with the Hong Kong spirit of entrepreneurship, which we are losing." For Oung, the government's piecemeal efforts are frustrating, given that it has the opportunity to act on a massive scale, at a fundamental level and taking a "holistic approach", instead of opting to manage problems as and when they occur. "For Hong Kong to move forward, it needs comprehensive proposals executed with efficiency," he says. He wants integrated solutions, beginning with civic education, to reduce sewage and waste for example, through to better town planning, making for more environmentally friendly surroundings. "The government should abandon its piecemeal manner. If integration is carried out correctly across the environmental protection industry, the commercial sector, households and the government, then unnecessary social and health costs can be avoided." He adds: "Why can't we start educating right from the very beginning? Why don't we do something to avoid pollution or environmental damage before they happen?" Oung wants to sweep aside the whole concept of Hong Kong building ever more carbon-copy satellite cities that has been at the heart of its town planning for the past 50 years, during which time the population has expanded from three million to seven million at the last count, in 2011. The government is reclaiming rural land in the northeast New Territories to build two new towns - a move that has met with fierce resistance from locals fighting to protect their homes and green groups fighting to protect the city's natural habitats. There have been allusions, too, to the northwestern New Territories town of Tin Shui Wai, the so-called "City of Sadness", where rows of high-rise flats were built and little offered in the way of economic activity or community facilities. It developed a reputation for domestic violence, suicide and high unemployment. Oung wants to see a different approach this time. "The government could create a model city by carefully planning the design and function of the northeast New Territories development," he said. "If it works out, it could be a role model for other districts and even the world." He said an environmentally friendly and comfortable neighbourhood could be created by using non-toxic building materials and energy-saving fixtures, introducing a new waste-management system and putting an emphasis on low-carbon transport, with bicycle lanes and electric buses. He also criticised the lack of coordination on government initiatives. This affected the rules introduced in 2011 to stop parked drivers from keeping their engines - and air conditioning - running; the roll-out of a plastic bag levy between 2009 and April 1 this year; and the plan to build three landfills and an incinerator to deal with the problem of waste. Waste is a big problem for the city. According to data compiled last year by independent environmental activist Hahn Chu Hon-keung, every Hongkonger produces an average of 1.35kg of waste a day, which is way above Seoul's 0.95kg, Taipei's 1kg and a total of just 0.87kg in Singapore. Hong Kong also has the highest number of rubbish bins - 48,820 - according to the data. The government has set out to slash the amount of rubbish generated by 40 per cent by 2020, partly by introducing disposal fees by next year. Oung, who is also the founder of the Hong Kong Myanmar Chamber of Commerce, launched his green campaign in the city two years ago. He is also taking it to Myanmar, where he was born 55 years ago, in Yangon. Hong Kong, however, is where he grew up and it remains his home. It is also where he has proved he can turn words into action - for example by organising markets to donate unsold vegetables and fruit to the needy and recycling food waste into fish feed. The Airport Authority, the Urban Renewal Authority, the Link real estate investment trust, CLP Power and the MTR Corporation are among the big names partnering the WGO. The group has also reached out to the city's employers through the Green Office Awards scheme to help reduce the amount of energy and water used in the workplace and the amount of waste generated. Oung's pragmatic approach also applies to Hongkongers' calls for genuine universal suffrage. Oung, who was a student activist at the University of Toronto in Canada in the 1980s, agrees with students' demands for democracy but says they should make clear what their definition of democracy is and how it can be achieved. The city is due to have its first one-man, one-vote election for the chief executive in 2017. But Beijing and the Hong Kong government want a nominating committee to first select which candidates can stand, which campaigners argue undermines the whole idea of universal suffrage. "I support students to have dreams, but, in reality, they need to have a plan to chase beyond the dreams," said Oung. Suggesting the students' protest movement, which was met with pepper spray by police and anger from supporters of Beijing, was not a suitable plan, he added: "The confrontation can be avoided and transformed into a more concrete plan to rebuild Hong Kong, for example joining hands to make Hong Kong the greenest place in the world through a Green Hong Kong Campaign. "This is less controversial and will win support from different walks of life." Hong Kong green campaigner Albert Oung's biographical details Born in Myanmar, Albert Oung, 55, left his hometown Yangon for Hong Kong when he was just three. In the 1980s, he completed a double-major bachelor's degree in business and economics at the University of Toronto, Canada. He is the founder of the World Green Organisation and the Hong Kong Myanmar Chamber of Commerce. He founded the independent Hong Kong Green Party. He has spent about 30 years in the green industry, developing and commercialising various renewable material, energy and waste management technologies. He also helps set industry standards for such schemes as Total Quality Management, Life Cycle Assessment and ISO, and develops good manufacturing and food safety practices. With bilateral trade between Myanmar and Hong Kong taking off, Oung is serving as an adviser to the Myanmar government on standardising rules and regulations for the export to Hong Kong of domestic helpers. This is a new sector for Myanmar involving considerable work in drawing up work contracts. One problem Oung has encountered is inconsistent wording in English and Myanmese versions of contracts. To take care of Myanmese domestic helpers in Hong Kong, Oung has teamed up with about five community centres in Kowloon through the Hong Kong Myanmar Chamber of Commerce. The aim is to ensure that the domestic helpers are able to adapt to their new working environment.