Press Release: Civic Exchange’s New Report Guides The Development Of An Effective Plan For Biodiversity Conservation In Hong Kong

Independent policy think tank Civic Exchange today launched a new publication Developing a Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan for Hong Kong. This report sets out how Hong Kong can develop a Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (BSAP), based on the Convention of Biological Diversity’s (CBD) guidance and principles, so that effective and urgent actions can be taken to protect Hong Kong’s wildlife and ecosystems and prevent further loss of biodiversity. 
The CBD was initiated by the United Nations in 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit to halt the alarming global decline in biodiversity. It was extended to Hong Kong in 2011. CBD requires member parties to develop/update a BSAP in line with internationally agreed goals and targets, and begin implementing them by 2015. 
Developing a Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan for Hong Kong recommends a 7-step planning process for developing Hong Kong’s BSAP. These steps include: 
1. Identifying and engaging different stakeholders; 
2. Assessing Hong Kong’s biodiversity and links with well being; 
3. Developing a strategy, from identifying the vision, principles and priorities to setting specific targets; 
4. Developing an action plan for the above strategy; 
5. Implementing the BSAP; 
6. Monitoring and evaluating the implementation process; and 
7. Reporting the findings and revising the plan where necessary. 
“One of the guiding principles for developing a BSAP is that it should be jointly developed and owned by a full range of stakeholders”, said Lisa Hopkinson, the report’s author. Indeed, guidance from the CBD strongly recommends that the process should be open, participative and transparent in order for the BSAP to be effective. Hopkinson explains, “The BSAP will have far-reaching implications for all levels of government and society, and thus, we recommend high-level government leadership and a joint government and non-government group to develop and drive the process.” 
This report outlines a process for determining the actions required to protect Hong Kong’s biodiversity, some of which may include protecting sensitive ecological sites, amending legislation and institutional arrangements, boosting efforts to mainstream biodiversity into government policy, and raising awareness to gain widespread support and involvement of the public. 
“Without urgent action, Hong Kong will lose invaluable and irreplaceable natural assets, undermining the city’s future prosperity, health and quality of life. We need an overarching plan to ensure a better balance between urbanisation and nature conservation. The development and implementation of the BSAP provides a timely and important roadmap for Hong Kong. We need to accomplish a lot of tasks by 2015 according to the CBD timeline and there is no time for delay”, said Yan-yan Yip, CEO of Civic Exchange. “The next few months will be critical and the groundwork must be laid now, with working groups and taskforces to be set up, and a full public engagement process developed to create a widely supported plan for conservation.” 
“Past incidents showed that our government tends to only protect sites in times of vocal public disapproval. We have an opportunity now to develop a comprehensive BSAP; the benefits of this for Hong Kong’s future development will be enormous”, Yip affirmed.