Everyone has a favourite “City” he or she wants Hong Kong to be. But it must be all those cities to holistically serve her people. (Photo credit: Chris Lusher)
Hong Kong needs a new vision. A vision that will give guidance to our leaders and the broader community looking for a way forward. A vision that will push us ahead, that will pull us along, that will entice – and inspire.
Hong Kong is one of the world’s great cities and has risen to global prominence in a mere sixty or so years. The city lacks the antiquity of a Jerusalem, Damascus, Beijing, Tokyo or even comparatively youthful New York or Toronto. Its youthfulness carries the benefit of a raging dynamism – but drawback of a lack of historical direction. The upside is Hong Kong is compelled to choose a future that meets the needs of her people – and their great aspirations. We are not bound by the past.
Given this tremendous power and freedom, what future will Hong Kongers choose?
Some cities have chosen one future. Vancouver aims to the Greenest City in the world. Vienna’s Urban Development Plan STEP 2025 aims to be a Smart City “where people live because they enjoy it – not because they have to.” Mayor Sadiq Khan hasn’t got a clever label for his idea of an ideal London, but has a broad vision for changing many aspects of government to generate opportunity for all.
Hong Kong, as Asia’s World City, will be all these things – and more.
Our place in Asia, in China, and in the world, means that Hong Kong can – nay, must – aspire to more. There is a responsibility to the seven million souls here and hundreds of millions across Asia that depend on Hong Kongers to develop our city as a safe haven for capital, business, trade and more for their livelihoods. Our rule of law means millions trust our products, our contracts, our banks, indeed – our words. Growing as the World City is a civic duty shared with a region. The good news is that Hong Kongers are up to the task.
We must be all the cities that will serve our citizens and the world. Smart City? Yes. A Healthy City? Absolutely. Sustainability means resiliency in the face of adversity in economic, social and climatic terms. If we can ﬁnd our way through to be all these cities, we will deserve the sobriquet of Asia’s World City.
Delivering on these elements will deliver to the Hong Kong people the city they deserve and one that will enable them reach their maximum potential.
Each of the four cities Hong Kong must become are interconnected, all lending to making Hong Kong a world leader and wonderful place to live.
Four Great Cities, One Wisdom
A city that is constantly repairing itself can never get ahead. Hong Kong has succeeded in many ways in making itself a Resilient City. Natural disasters that would kill thousands elsewhere barely cause a hiccup here. We have achieved ‘Spongy City’ status, able to soak up the winds and water of the biggest typhoons. Resiliency is social as well, speaking to our citizens ability to weather economic downturns and social change. We must also consider the resiliency of our environment, through the preservation of wetland marshes and biodiversity.
This will also lend to our Sustainable City character. Whether in the rural areas or in the heart of the city, we must ensure that we must not poison our environment, maximising the efficiency of our use of energy, food, water while minimising our generation of waste, CO2, methane and heat. Our hearts and minds must also be nurtured and sustained through design and policies that lend to creative communities and social connectivity. These things lead to our physical and mental health.
A Healthy City is crucial. Wealth and beautiful vistas mean little to a people ailing in body. Human development in a city approaching 9 or even 10 million people means that our bodies must be nurtured through wholesome, safe food, perhaps sourced through vertical gardens in our own urban farms and vertical gardens. Human development, in the creative, economic and education sphere uplifts our city’s soul. Thoughtful urban design can deliver ecofriendly transport and exercise promoting cityscapes. Over time, we can make our environment cleaner and our people healthier.
A Smart City is an absolute must to achieve all of the preceding.The use of technology to provide data to enable better decision making will make all the ‘other cities’ possible. Big data released as open data, and smart use of technology will enable us to be more resilient, use fewer resources to better effect and better engage our citizens.
What will this city look like? Delivering on the economic and physical dimensions of the four cities will allow us to elevate our citizenry to achieve something beyond Smart, Resilient, Healthy and Sustainable. We will be free to elevate our concerns to achieve a degree of Wisdom.
A Green community is characterised at its core by using green sources of energy to drive our processes, including green transport. Urban farms can lend to our ecorestoration of our environments. Everyone would be an athlete of sorts, as design makes sports and fitness a way of life possible for all. Health in our people will speak to the Livability of Hong Kong.
Livability is crucial. Many of the world’s greatest cities right now are not defined by their industries nor their size, but by the attractiveness of the lifestyle. People, strangely enough, like to live in places where the air is clean, the smells are fresh, the work productive and pleasant and the voyage to work enjoyable. Whether by bicycle or electric ferry over clean waters, people feel more at Harmony with their families and their communities when their economy and environment work together. The Harmony in society allows for deep intellectual exchange and collaboration that feeds into the development of the four cities.
This is when we create space for Wisdom – the ability to pursue spiritual development. Along the way, we ﬁnd solutions to care for the poor and elevate them out of that status to a place where they can participate fully in a harmonious society, and perhaps a harmonious world.
Cheung is Founder and Convenor of Doctoral Exchange and of Central-Wanchai Reclamation Study Group. He also founded and chairs Neodimensions Group.
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