Sustainable Development in China
Sustainable development, increasing population and continuing industrialization effects on the environment are some of the issues that have made leaders globally to examine economics and politics directions that need to be taken in the 21st century. Evidently, the current practices should not be allowed to continue and substantive changes need to be made in terms of uneven development rates in the countries of the South and North as well as with consideration of the growing population globally which is placing an increasing demand on irreplaceable and finite natural resources (Leveness & Primeaux, 2004, p. 185).
Bundtland Report (World Commission on Environment and Development 1987) shows that sustainable development is called “Our Common Future” (Tso, Yau & Yang, 2011, p.93). Sustainable development refers to the capacity of satisfying the present generation’s needs without causing jeopardy to this possibility for the future generations. More attention has recently been paid to regional or country sustainable development. Tso et al. (2011, p.93) were cited in the Hoballah (2006), for their summary of the essential factors and successful experience in relation to the formulation of sustainable development’s regional strategy for the Mediterranean region. Munday and Roberts (2006) evaluated the list of the approaches that Wales considered in monitoring and measuring the progress that has been made towards the realization of the objectives of sustainable development that include ecological footprint, tables for environmental input-output, account of environmental satellite and welfare index of a sustainable economy.
Sustainable development has many interpretations and these are confusing. A suggestion of a mapping methodology that would help in making sense of these interpretations was made on the basis of socio-economic and environmental issues combined. Riordan (1989) is supported by Hopwood, Mellor, and O’Brien, (2005, p. 3) in his environmental views’ categorization that has a wide use. This categorization ranges from strong technocentric to strong ecocentric. As Riordan (1989) pointed out, these usually combine with the socio-economic viewpoints ensuring that the tendency of ecocentrics leans towards economic and social equity as well as redistribution while the technocentrics are highly likely to support political and economic status quo. Nevertheless, this does not always happen as pointed out by Marcuse. Social justice and sustainability do not go together always (1998, p. 104). Sustainability masks justice or social justice masks environmental damage (Hopwood et al., 2005, p.5).
In most cases, social and environmental concerns are linked on the basis of a moral (Hopwood et al., 2005, p.5).The linking can also be based on a sympathetic outlook instead of considering both as socially and materially inseparable and related. Useful means of analyzing the environmental concerns have also been outlined by other scholars (Merchant, 1992; Dryzek, 1997). Nevertheless, less effort has been put in mapping different sustainable development viewpoints. To offer a general view of trends taken by the debate on sustainable development, the original mapping by Riordan can be broadened to consider socio-economic and environmental views of two different axes.
Level of the importance that is given to equality and human well-being is covered by socio-economic axis. Environment priority from the low concerns to technocentred and econcentred is covered by environmental axis. The map has a shaded area at the center which shows different views raised during the debate on sustainable development combining environmental and socio-economic issues (Hopwood et al., 2005, p.6). Some views are not included in this area and these concern either socioeconomic or environmental issues but they ignore the other.
There are major views regarding the kind of changes that are necessary in the economic and political structures as well as human-environment relationships in the society that are necessary for the achievement of sustainable development as indicated in Development Overlaid of this map. For sustainable development to be realized with the current structures -the status quo, fundamental reforms are necessary even without a complete rupture of the arrangements that exist currently-reform. As indicated in (Rees, 1995), the problems’ roots are the power and economic structures in the society and there is a need for radical transformation (Hopwood et al., 2005, p.5).
Inevitably, this conceptual framework is broad instead of being exact and precise mapping of the locations that are open for the challenge. The entire groups’ classification is simplification and debate can be handled regarding the drawn boundaries and how blurred or sharp they are. Groups and individuals change views as time goes by. Major debates in these outlooks also exist. For this mapping to be illustrated major trends in sustainable development have been outlined.
Environmental impact of wastes
Roberts (2006) notes that Tso et al. (2011, p.94) reviewed the requirements that are fundamental to sustainable development’s regional evaluation. They also offered research evidence to indicate the essence of institutional and procedural innovation. Luken and Hesp (2007) also assessed the effects of environmental policies for sustainable development and industrial development in six developing nations with reference to environmental, social and economic parameters (Tso et al., 2011, p. 95).
A rational model for sustainable development within Vilnius was developed by Zavadskas et al. (2007) with special emphasis being put on pollution effects. This model involved an analysis of macro, meso and micro environmental factors affecting Vilnius’ sustainability as well as the recommendations for the enhancement of sustainable development. An evaluation of sustainable development in Turkey was made by Kizilaslan et al. (2007) in relation to population growth, forests size, deforestation rate, agricultural development, population density, urban population and the rate of self-sufficiency. Contextual background was outlined by Tso et al. (2011, 97) in order to understand governance issues and sustainable development in the Asian cities. Policies and methodologies of ensuring and promoting sustainable development in industries in Rwanda were investigated by Short (2008). The scholar examined the role of the government in providing a supporting frame (Tso et al., 2011, p.95).
After making sustainable development comparisons among regions or countries, multidimensional variables that include environmental, social and economic variables ought to be considered. There is a need for sustainable development index (SDI) in order to achieve an objective comparison and indication. Sustainable development can be measured in different ways depending on the study’s specified objectives. Constructing SDI on the basis of the official statistics in order to achieve a measure that is objective is one way (Tso et al., 2011, p.95). However, this approach cannot reflect the feelings and opinions of individuals living in the region where the study is conducted directly. A survey is another approach. Views of different sub-groups as well as produces indicators can be measured and the sentiments of the sub-groups compared using this alternative. The basis of pioneer works is the SDI construction of Nordhaus and Tobin (1973), Daly and Cobb (1989, p. 115) as well as the survey done recently by Lawn (2003).
Hoffman (2000) developed a root index which serves as the sustainable development’s measure in the New York City (1990-1995). This index focused on sustainable economic factors and activities’ foundation which had long-term effects that included education and infrastructure. The Social Services Council developed Social Development Index in Hong Kong (Tso et al., 2011, p. 94). There are bi-annual reports that are published since 2000. This index has 47 core indicators that involve 5 population groups that are disadvantaged and 14 different sectors. The index construction’s details are in Chua et al. (2010). There was a SDI with a regional scale that Herrera-Ulloa et al. (2003) developed for the Baja California Sur in Mexico. This SDI considered institutional, economic, environmental and social dimensions.
With the use of principle component analysis (PCA), Tarabusi and Palazzi (2004) developed a sustainable development’s index. This index structurally considered a balance of different aspects of development while weighing unbalance negatively. For this index to be developed, environmental, social and economic aspects of a country’s development were considered. In application, the index development process considered sustainable development in 126 countries. This index was used to rank and to compare these countries (Tso et al., 2011, p. 97). The adopted sustainable development concept was called ‘sustainable society’. This concept introduced a measurement of corresponding features so that stability can be developed and maintained in the society. The overview of the indicators of any sustainable development that the European Commission adopted recently in monitoring, assessing and revising the strategy for sustainable development that Gothenburg adopted in 2001 were presented by Ledoux et al. (2005).
Additionally, Barrios and Komoto (2006) proposed some of the approaches to SDI construction for Philippines. Instead of using PCA, the approaches used sparse principle component analysis (SPCA) in order to facilitate results’ interpretation. SDI was used in indicating areas that required improvement in this study in order to realize sustainable and better life. After 1997, awareness of sustainable development and continuous growth has increased in Hong Kong which is seen as a special region of China administration.
Environmental sustainability in terms of the Hong Kong housing system was preliminarily assessed by Chiu (2000) as well as the use of the life-cycle building model of Bhatti in the development of sustainable housing policy. The perspective of sustainable development was applied by Chiu (2002) in investigating whether government and policy changes’ responses to property market collapse have made consumption and distribution of resources more equitable in Hong Kong. In the discussion of Scotland and Hong Kong sustainable development, Robert and Hills (2002) considered the changing circumstances’ impact.
Hills (2002) presented a discussion of the recent environmental policy evolution within Hong Kong, emergence of the agenda of regional management of the environment, ecological modernization potential as well as the development basis for a broader environmental management strategy in relation to Pearl River Delta. As indicated in Lai et al. (2006), Tso et al. (2011, p. 96) discussed Hong Kong’s sustainable development model’s Coasian interpretation that incorporated environmental, societal and economic factors.
Nevertheless, when practicing sustainable development, sometimes figuring out major concern areas becomes difficult. A systematic approach is adopted in the construction and development of Hong Kong Sustainable Development Index (HKSDI) to collect data from the multi-stakeholders so as to determine vital areas that sustainable development should address (Tso et al., 2011, p.97). Apart from acting as the tracking mechanism of the status quo, it also assumes the role of being the device for building consensus as well as the tool that is used in creating public awareness. HKSDI development is described in this paper while presenting its findings between 2003 and 2007. The top priority areas will be quantified and identified. The paper also offers a vital reference frame for the government, civil society and businesses to collaborate in order to address common challenges to sustainability as well as meeting citizens’ aspirations.
The endeavor to make Hong Kong a world-class city was stated by its Chief Executive in a Policy Address (1999). Fundamental mindset’s change is required in order to make Hong Kong a comfortable, pleasant and comfortable home (Tso et al., 2011, p. 98). Bureaus, government departments, businesses and citizens should start forming partnership in order to realize sustainable development. There has been progress in raising sustainable development’s awareness among the public but fundamental mindset’s change is yet to be achieved. A Sustainable Development Council was formed by the government in the April of 2003. This council was responsible for leading in the formulation of the strategies for Hong Kong’s sustainable development. Strategies have been developed by this council and they address specific issues that include waste management, renewable energy, urban planning and the new population policy strategies as well as air quality via public consultation.
Although these steps are positive, a holistic strategy is required in addressing different though interconnected issues for enhancing Hong Kong’s sustainability further instead of strategies for individual topics. However, for a clearer picture to be brought out regarding areas that need improvement, an effective means of measuring life quality in Hong Kong is required. Factors that indicate sustainable development may help in designing and implementing improvement programs, their influence on behavior as well as monitoring progress (Tso et al., 2011, p. 99).
For good policy to continue being developed, a holistic and clear road map is required in order to enhance life quality including targets and measurable indicators. As such, HKSDI was established and launched on the basis of ten priority areas representing the wide array of concerns of the community in regard to local economy, the environment and social progress. Workshops of multi-stakeholder engagement that were held from 2001 to 2003 were used to identify the 10 priority areas that sustainable development in Hong Kong should address. This index therefore reflects different and relevant social, environmental and economic issues that track the view of the public on progress that Hong Kong has made towards a future that is more sustainable.
More than 70 participants with interest in this topic were involved in the initial workshop that was held in 2001. They included business operators, government officials, commerce chambers’ members and environmental consultants (Tso et al., p. 101). Specific questions such as “what your priorities for Hong Kong’s sustainable society are?” and “how can you define them as well as what targets can be achieved by Hong Kong?” among others were asked in order to focus the discussions of the workshops on the areas of environmental, economic and social sustainability. Consequently, a consensus was reached by participants through facilitated, interactive discussions on the list that comprised of 30 issues of priority that are vital for the realization of sustainable development in Hong Kong (Tso et al., 2011, p. 102).
The next workshop was a sustainable development’s international symposium by the government. It reviewed the priority issues that had been identified after which a consensus was reached for top 10 priorities on Hong Kong’s sustainable development through debates. It involved different stakeholders’ groups who represented different sectors such as social and environmental organizations, the government, academics, business and professionals. This workshop’s goal was to identify the top 10 priorities that according to participants should be focused on by the actions that are aimed at achieving Hong Kong’s sustainable development. A process of consensus building that was interactive facilitated the realization of the conclusion of ten main priority areas. Participants formed ten small groups for discussions during this process. Every group had ten members from various groups of stakeholders and a facilitator who was independent led the group.
A research by the Education System indicated that health, hygiene and environmental protection are the most vital areas for the achievement of quality life in Hong Kong. Life quality is greatly influenced by performance of these areas. The people of Hong Kong were satisfied by health performance and hygiene for the 5 years taken by the study. Public concern about hygiene and health was aroused in 2003 by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak within different Asian countries as well as Canada. Following this crisis, people are now aware about the essence of the environment to human health. As such, Ho et al. (2004) developed a scheme for practical assessment that assesses hygiene and health performance of Hong Kong’s apartment buildings.
The government has put more resources and efforts in this sector while developing more policies that prevent such a disease from occurring in different ways. The results of the survey suggest that the actions have been effective. Despite the fact that people are currently satisfied with this area’s performance, the results of our survey indicate that public spaces’ cleanliness should be improved further. In this regard, the made efforts will enhance the achievement of quality life (Tso et al., 2011, p. 103).
The people are satisfied with the Education System’s performance as well especially over the past years apart from 2005 when performance and importance gap in the sector was the largest. The survey indicates that teaching quality and restructuring of the education system in Hong Kong are two aspects that require further improvement in order for quality life to be achieved. Actually, education is a vital issue when it comes to changing values, behavior, interests and norms of the people. Educational strategy plays a vital role in shaping culture that a society practices and this can change the people’s norms while influencing individual’s behavior. Wong (2003), (Tso et al., 2011, p. 104) investigated the contribution that continuing leadership empowerment and education has on sustainable development.
Among the vital areas that should be focused on for quality life to be achieved is environmental protection. Nevertheless, this area’s performance has not been satisfying in comparison to others more so after 2003. ANOVA results indicate that a big difference exists regarding the 2003 performance as well as that of the following years. This survey shows that air quality was consistently a major aspect that needed further improvement during the 5 years of the study. Actually, the long-persisted problem of air pollution in Hong Kong has been recognized internationally. By 1966, a committee for studying air pollution that is generated by motor vehicles and industrial activities was set up by the government. Air quality kept deteriorating regardless of historical concerns especially during the 1990s. The Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department reported in 2002 that poor-visibility days had increased and this was raising awareness of this problem to the entire public.
The recent air quality crisis came at the history of Hong Kong’s crossroads. Due to its return in 1997, China is struggling to maintain the world-class status of Hong Kong as well as the East Asia’s financial capital. While struggling to maintain its competitive edge, the importance of air quality has increased. As such, the government as well as businesses can work together to effectively solve this problem and this will reinforce Hon Kong’s competitiveness in the global economy and enable it to achieve quality life. Additionally, ANOVA results indicated that there has been continuous improvement in Health Economy area (Tso et al., 2011, p. 106).
Success in the achievement of improvement of the priority area can be used and summarized as the reference for the other areas. Population policy’s performance was at its worst between 2005 and 2007. Specifically, immigration management from Mainland China has been identified as a major aspect requiring improvement. An investigation was done by Law and Lee (2006) on the existing relationship between the economy, citizenship and the social exclusion among the mainland immigrants within Hong Kong. There are three social exclusion dimensions that are interrelated in regard to Chinese immigrants within Hong Kong. These are (1) globalization; (2) strength and nature of the local social identity that is based on place; (3) territorial states’ political attempts. Usually, Hong Kong is seen as the Chinese immigrants’ society. The control regime for immigration in Hong Kong has changed as per the economic development.
Various historical periods applied different regimes such as the Touch-Base policy applied in 1980, the Two-Way Permit, One-Way Permit, Talents Scheme Admission and the General Labor Importation Scheme among others. Although these policies helped in Hong Kong’s economic development through the provision of labor resources at specific periods, they also created several problems. There were times when the newcomers were viewed at as aggravating social problems in the territory because they increased competition for houses, welfare benefits and jobs. Following the Financial Crisis of Asia in 1997, economic recession in Hong Kong deepened (Tso et al., 2011, p. 108).
The negative perception that the people of Hong Kong had towards new arrivals intensified further. As such, there is the need for an effective population policy. Considering the competition of global cities, it s important that the government look for the talents of the mainland Chinese in order to realize economic transformation that will lead to a metropolis whose basis is knowledge and to enhance Hong Kong’s competitive status. Therefore, an immigration policy that is more flexible should be adopted in order to attract talents from the mainland Chinese to Hong Kong.
Generally, there are many aspects that ought to be considered for better life quality to be achieved. A cited in Chua et al. (2010), Tso et al. (2011, p. 108) pointed out that economic and social developments are inter-connected and equally important. Focusing on one aspect excessively can harm society’s development. It is important to assign appropriate weights of importance to economic, environmental, cultural and social development since these are the cornerstones of balanced and integrated social development.
This study has some limitations. First, the study’s response rate is very high because of resources that can be afforded in interviewing cost as well as the questionnaire’s length. A good survey done via the phone ideally requires a high rate of response. Nevertheless, resources for interviewing costs as well as time will be necessary for increased rate of response to be realized from a telephone survey (Tso et al., 2011, p. 108). Second, each respondent provided satisfaction and importance level’s rating towards the areas of priority. In fact, going by 106 G.K.F Tso et al. (2012, p. 123) they may refer to various but specific aspects of the area. However, this is an unavoidable problem in practice since an individual can have personal concerns for the priority areas.
Among the major factors that determine economic, business and social development is sustainable development. Nevertheless, several factors affect sustainable development including the environment and politics. For effective sustainable development to be achieved, several factors should be implemented such as a streamlined education system.
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Tso, G.K., F., Yau, K.K., and Yang, C.Y., 2011. Sustainable Development Index in Hong Kong: Approach, Method and Findings. Social Indicators Research, 101(1), pp. 93-108.