Experts called for Hong Kong to pay more attention to its water sustainability, water waste in particular and to seriously consider its long-term water strategy.

International officials, NGOs and academics gathered at Kai Tak Runway Park during the Volvo Ocean Race in Hong Kong this week to discuss the plastic pollution in the ocean and water management in the region and in the city.

“We are delighted to help bring the excitement of the Volvo Ocean Race to Hong Kong, giving residents the opportunity to witness first-hand the challenges that the teams face. At the same time, we hope that when seeing the boats race into Victoria Harbour people will be inspired to appreciate our seas, support and protect clean oceans,” John Batten, Regional Sustainable Cities Leader, Arcadis Asia said: “Through our focus on creating sustainable built assets, we intend to help Hong Kong harness its water assets for the greatest long-term advantage.”

A report issued by think tank Civic Exchange last year showed that the city’s total annual consumption in 2015 reached 1.25 billion cubic metres, including including sea and fresh water, 21 percent higher than the global average.

The city’s daily consumption has increased from about 190 litres per capita to 220 litres per capita from 1998 to 2015. In comparison, Shanghai’s current daily domestic use is at about 106 litres per day per capita.

“They could see the murky waters a very long way out,” explained Anne-Cecile Turner, the Volvo Ocean Race’s sustainability programme leader. “It’s a mega-city with a huge amount of waste so it is a very big problem.”

A 2016 study of 48 major international cities by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found Hong Kong was one of the highest per capita water users globally.

Experts see that the city lacks a comprehensive way of managing its water.

“In Hong Kong, you use twice much water per capita per person of global average and pay the least mount of dollar. The leakage from your infrastructure is among the top 3 of the world, which is a list that you do not want to be on. At the same time, the city is vulnerable to flood, so your asset is at risk to sea level rise, typoons, etc,” said Henk Ovink, Dutch water expert Henk Ovink.

However, Ovink pointed out that with the expertises and the huge amount of capcaicties, Hong Kong can deal with the issue in a correct way and, tuning such risk into a real rewards for the city and the surrounding.”

“Hong Kong is part of the pearl river delta and is is connect to the same water with many cities in Mainland China. Doing things right in Hong Kong is an inspiration for other places,” Ovink pointed out the critical role the city plays in the region’s water sustainability picture. “Everything you can do here can be catalytic, can be replicated and can scaled up in other places.”

(Printer – R&R Publishing Limited, Suite 705, 7/F, Cheong K. Building, 84-86 Des Voeux Road Central, HK)