Hong Kong at a Glance
Population: 7.4 Million
Major Threats: Tropical Cyclones, Floods, Landslides, Wildfires, Extreme Weather
Populations Affected: Urban and Rural Communities
Locations Affected: Hong Kong, Kowloon
Industries Affected: Transportation, Manufacture, Financial, Fisheries, Agriculture
Compounding Issues: Environmental Protection, Renewal Energy, Nature Conservation, Agriculture
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HK-SAR) is renowned as one of the most populous countries globally, characterized by high development and significant financial centrality. Its population primarily consists of Chinese ethnicity, accounting for up to 93 percent, while the remaining population comprises various Asian and non-Asian ethnicities. Geographically, Hong Kong covers several major islands, including Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula, Lantau, and the New Territories, along with over 200 large and small islands.
Economic improvements in the early 1850s attracted more foreign investors. Hong Kong significantly contributes to the global financial center and is recognized as one of the largest exporters. Moreover, Hong Kong serves as an example of a country with two systems within one nation, and it is also considered one of the safest destinations, appealing to foreigners and offering exceptional shopping experiences.
Major Threats and Economy
Hong Kong is challenged by the slowdown of the real economy. Since 2018, deglobalization has led to the continuous deepening of China‑US trade frictions, which has a huge impact on Hong Kong’s exports and re‑exports. As the US and Mainland China are Hong Kong’s two largest economic and trading partners, trade disputes between the two will inevitably affect the business of related merchants. Hong Kong exports stayed on a downward trend for the 15th month in a row (as of mid-2023) as the contraction in trade with mainland China, the United States, and Europe continued.
The struggling real economy has dampened the market confidence in Hong Kong. However, Hong Kong still plays a role as one of the leading international financial centers. Hong Kong is still a prime location for financial services and home to many financial institutions. With the setup of the InvestHK Family Office in 2021, Hong Kong is taking proactive steps in facilitating more family offices, thereby generating more demand for investment management and other related professional services.
Climate Change Impacts
Global warming has undeniably had significant effects on numerous countries. In rapidly developing regions like Hong Kong, where there is a growing demand for construction, increased manufacturing, and greater utilization of fossil fuels for industrial purposes, the impacts of climate change have been observed sooner due to the escalation of human activities. The emergence of longer hot nights and shorter cold days has become a reality, accompanied by rising sea levels and elevated seawater temperatures.
The accumulation of carbon emission gases in concerning levels has given rise to several consequential issues addressed by change agents. The rising sea levels not only reduce land area but also make reclamation efforts less effective, and the slower response to these changes magnifies the ensuing impact.
Hong Kong SAR is particularly susceptible to natural hazards such as floods, tropical cyclones, and heatwaves. While these hazards might seem commonplace due to their yearly occurrence, their disruptive effects on human activities are significant, leading to economic losses and fatalities. Industries and transportation sectors experience delays, exports and imports face postponement, and agriculture and fisheries sectors suffer damage. Further, the lower-income population, often engaged in daily labor, loses their income, further exacerbating their living conditions.
Intense heavy rainfall, thunderstorms, and floods are expected to become more frequent, increasing the exposure to hazards because of climate change contributions in the current decade. Due to its dense population, Hong Kong is more vulnerable to hazards, which in turn elevates the risk to its residents. The city’s long history of typhoons and floods has resulted in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries, along with collapsed buildings, over 60,000 fallen trees, livestock casualties, crop damage, interrupted electricity supplies, and water shortages. While the number of fatalities has decreased, the economic losses have seen an upward trend.
Throughout its recorded history, recent geophysical activities have been felt in Hong Kong, but they have not resulted in harm to the population. The government provides appropriate announcements regarding these geophysical activities, focusing on preventive measures and appeals.
Adaptation and Local Context
The Hong Kong government has begun to take necessary steps concerning climate change adaptation, mitigation, and risk reduction. One of these steps involves reducing fossil fuel usage and transitioning to renewable and clean energy sources to improve air quality and promote sustainable farming and agriculture. These initiatives are in line with Hong Kong’s Climate Action Plan 2030+. These promoted programs aim to enhance urban quality of life while prioritizing environmental protection. Initially, the focus of adaptation efforts is on developing resiliency for residents in urban areas. This is part of an integrated, long-term program. The implementation of these initiatives has already yielded visible results in certain areas.
The necessary steps align with the Paris Climate Agreement and are being implemented as expected. This also requires collaboration with significant change agents who share the same vision of reducing global warming. One of Hong Kong’s recent major commitments involves promoting renewable energy despite the anticipated higher costs. The government is optimistic about collaborating with power companies to reduce the country’s dependence on coal, thereby improving air quality and the overall health of Hong Kong’s population for years to come.
Opportunities and Recommendations to International Donors
Several sectors offer opportunities for global change agents to align their vision with the Hong Kong government’s objectives, including Health, Education, Construction, Environment, Conservation, and Agriculture. Some potential areas where international donors might be involved include:
- Public health facilities
- Drainage and the development of a sustainable water reservoir system
- Development of sustainable water and air quality
- Educational services
- Sustainable conservation of country and marine parks
- Adoption of new technologies for renewable and clean energy
- Adoption of modern and sustainable agricultural technologies
- Implementation of urban farming using new technology
- Modernization of fisheries using new technology