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Swedish Experience of Environmental Management Sparks
Fresh Ideas for Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta

January 23, 2008 - Hong Kong should adapt a more holistic approach to its environmental issues. That was the main message from "Sustainable Development - the Swedish Experience," an international forum held yesterday at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Fifteen environmental experts from Sweden addressed more than 100 Hong Kong companies, researchers and academics at the forum, sharing their insight and experience in waste management, pollution control and sustainable economic growth.

The forum was organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), together with the Royal Sweden Hong Kong Society, the Consulate General of Sweden in Hong Kong and Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks.

Speakers emphasised that environmental challenges could be tackled effectively only through consensus-building at all levels in a community, including government, NGOs, youth groups, consumers and trade and industry.

Tony Clark, Commercial Counsellor at the Swedish Embassy in Beijing, and head of the Swedish Center for Environmental Technology (CENTEC), said that the Swedish Government was committed to "hand over to the next generation a society in which the major environmental problems have been solved."

He stressed the importance of environmental legislation and implementation. Government initiatives in Sweden include a carbon dioxide tax, a green-energy certificate requirement to ensure that companies use renewable resources, and the use of biofuels at petrol stations across the country.

CENTEC, he said, could work with Hong Kong in several areas, including awareness-raising, developing a regulatory framework, working on pilot projects in cities, helping to reduce greenhouse gases, tackling urban pollution and encouraging the use of biofuels in public transportation.

Peter Wenster, Senior Advisor at the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR), explained how self-government at the municipal level was a key factor in Sweden's success. Local governments were responsible for their own taxation systems, generating revenue to solve problems at the local level. Mr Wenster noted that acceptable solutions require shared responsibility, cooperation and open dialogue among the various stakeholders.

For better water management, Steen Bjerggaard, Director of International Projects, Stockholm Water Company, noted that digested sludge could be used to provide fertilisers, as well as heat, electricity and biofuels. The company helped transform lakes in central Stockholm to allow for bathing and fishing - something that could be envisioned for Hong Kong's harbour.

One often neglected area is waste collection, said Hans Strom, CEO of ENVAC, a Swedish waste management company based in Hong Kong. Mr Strom explained how waste collection can be moved underground with a process called ARCS (Automated Refuse Collection System), which minimises human contact with waste and drastically reduces odours. With ARCS, household waste travels down chutes to underground pipes, which then transport the waste to vacuum-sealed containers, where it is compacted and dumped in landfills.

The system, he said, is being used in various cities in Europe and in Singapore, Seoul and Guangzhou. Extended use of ARCS in Hong Kong would streamline waste collection and reduce the number of refuse trucks polluting the air and streets. According to Mr Strom, the investment costs would be about HK$5,000 per household, with an operating cost of HK$15 per month, per household.

"Swedish and Hong Kong companies should make effective partners in developing the huge market potential presented by environmental challenges and the growing determination to tackle them in this region," said Christopher Jackson, Director, Corporate Development, at the HKTDC.

The Hong Kong Government has introduced a number of air-quality and environmental schemes. In his October 2007 Policy Address, the Chief Executive proposed a HK$1 billion injection into its Environment and Conservation Fund. The additional funds will be used to help Hong Kong develop a healthier, cleaner environment. A further HK$93 million will be set aside to help Hong Kong-owned factories in the Pearl River Delta region adopt cleaner production processes.

For more information
Please contact the TDC's Corporate Communication Department:

Harsha Harjani

About the TDC
Established in 1966, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) is the international marketing arm for Hong Kong-based traders, manufacturers and service providers. With more than 40 offices worldwide, including 11 in the Chinese mainland, the TDC promotes Hong Kong as a platform for doing business with China and Asia. The TDC also organises trade fairs and business missions to connect companies with opportunities in Hong Kong and the mainland, while providing information via trade publications, research reports and online. For more information, visit www.tdctrade.com

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