Reflecting on Hong Kong's stand out performance in the Sustainable Cities Mobility Index, we spoke to Francis Au, Country Head of Hong Kong, to discuss what he thought were the key points behind Hong Kong ranking number one. Francis has vast experience working in Hong Kong on some of its most iconic projects and specializes in quantity surveying, providing him with a strong contextual understanding of the key drives in the Hong Kong market. Using the Chief Executive’s recent policy address, Francis referenced a combination of innovation, technology and support to key sectors being high on the government’s agenda as the root of success.
Over the last few months, two recent milestones highlight Hong Kong’s ongoing objective to become Asia’s World City by creating economic opportunities as an international business hub and improving livability. They both allude to the importance of smart and affordable infrastructure as the main driver to enable Hong Kong as a sustainable hub and to improve quality of life for its residents.
The first was the Hong Kong Chief Executive’s inaugural Policy address where we saw an outline of measures for continued economic growth such as support for the shipping and maritime sectors, land use, and stimulating the innovation, technology and creative industries. We also saw livability issues addressed such as the Starter Homes Pilot Scheme to help first-time homebuyers and plans to increase the supply of Public Rental Housing. The policy was a good balance of the economic and social initiatives required to accelerate its vision; however as one of the world’s most expensive cities to live in, Hong Kong must act swiftly to adopt solutions that further offset the affordability issues.
Transport in Hong Kong is one area that learnings can be taken from as recently demonstrated in Arcadis 2017 Sustainable Cities Mobility Index where Hong Kong leads the world for sustainable mobility ranking number 1. The report compiled by Arcadis is a major coup for the city and also provides a great framework to learn from across the three pillars of sustainability - social (People), environmental (Planet) and economic (Profit) whilst the city develops it’s initiatives in response to the Policy address.
For example, the index shows that Hong Kong’s innovative and well-connected public transport network enables comprehensive mobility and creation of a strong well-connected flow through the city. This in turn links workers, industries and businesses that ultimately provides a strong foundation for economic and sustainable growth. Hong Kong’s affordability of public transport relative to the average income level plus early incorporation of digital capabilities in its transport system meant Hong Kong scored well with a leading overall Index score of 69%. It is here where we should consider how early adoption of SMART processes and technology can drive profitable economic infrastructure and maximize affordability in the Policy address.
Another area that Hong Kong topped the global ranks was the People sub-index scoring 81%, indicating that emphasis on residents’ needs yields not just great economic opportunities but is the framework for a successful and livable city is its People. We see a similar agenda by the Chief Executive as we see a similar focus on residents’ needs for affordable housing, another of the key building blocks for a vibrant city.
In the Profit sub-index Hong Kong ranked 6th worldwide and scored 100% on economic opportunity due to the city’s ability to fund the needs of the transport infrastructure through its own revenue, reflecting that the maintenance of assets (in this case transport systems) is not only a priority, but a sustainable measure. The MTR Corporation’s track record in extending the transport network, running it profitably, and keeping fares low sets a global standard that sectors can learn from.
There is an alternative opportunity to further improve the city’s vision as indicated in the Planet pillar where Hong Kong ranked 53rd overall. There are major opportunities that Hong Kong can explore, which include bicycle infrastructure and the adoption of Electric Vehicles where other Asian cities such as Singapore and Beijing that have demonstrated economical and social benefits.
Hong Kong has a strong foundation to build on and for continued leading position it is important the Government understands the needs of its people. Hong Kong’s formula for public and private partnerships and refreshed infrastructure initiatives to drive economic growth and deliver better quality of life seems to be the right one for years to come.
To find out more about the Sustainable Cities Mobility Index, download the full report below and see how Hong Kong ranked against the rest of the major cities in the world.
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