Accurate and accessible data is sine qua non for conducting informed and inclusive policy formulation and evaluation exercises fruitfully. Hong Kong’s water data, unfortunately, do not meet a number of science-based criteria. Recent research efforts focusing on water policy issues have revealed myriad problems pertaining to officially released water-use data. In addition, imported Dongjiang water from neighboring Guangdong Province has effectively insulated Hong Kong from the impact of periodic droughts since 1982. Combined with a highly politically autonomous hydro-governance outfit predisposed to prioritizing supply augmentation solutions, a “guaranteed” and seemingly abundant external source has solidified a linear projection-based, business-as-usual approach to structuring our city’s long-term water strategy. I will examine the question of how several key historical “lock-in” decisions, triggered and reinforced by peculiar colonial-era considerations, have underpinned the water agency’s myopic view of Hong Kong’s water conundrum. Such an understanding is crucial to dispelling some long-held myths and misconceptions so that we could begin to re-define salient water policy planning challenges for a climate-responsive, conservation-minded, 21st century Hong Kong.
About the Speaker:
Dr. Frederick Lee holds a PhD degree in Urban Planning from MIT. He is currently Executive Director of the Centre for Water Technology and Policy at HKU; he is also an Associate Director of the Policy for Sustainability Lab in the Faculty of Social Sciences. Dr. Lee is co-directing a three-year, HK$14.7 million public education project on water sustainability, supported by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charity Trust. He is a Fellow at both Civic Exchange and the WYNG Foundation.
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