The phrase “People Mountain People Sea” is often used to describe the dense population in Hong Kong – and the irony in its use now lies in that there is no more “mountain” nor “sea” left in the city.
Economic development is practically synonymous with urbanisation and, with the limited land space in Hong Kong, the city is fast coming up against the problem of overcrowding. Land reclamation has been increasingly seen as a solution to this. However, are the benefits of land reclamation worth the environmental impact they cause? If we know that Land reclamation would result in the “large displacement of the marine sediments and the development of mud-waves beneath the reclamation fill”. This would disrupt the ocean’s ecosystem, lead to soil liquefaction, and pollute the water. And destruction of nature as dangerous as climate change.
Hongkongers often boast about the city’s magnificent skyscraper-studded skyline that edges Victoria Harbour, but we’ve lost view of our “mountains” and “seas”. The explosive transformation of Hong Kong, from a rustic village to a cosmopolitan city, is an extraordinary story that’s worth celebrating, but we should not prioritise economic development over our environment.
Let us not blindly resort to land reclamation as the only solution for the city’s development. Instead, let us build a city that is economically sustainable – and let us build it with a sense of empathy for the life around us.