World Water Day
| Editor of Friends of the Earth (HK)
Today, hand washing becomes a designated action that we repeat many times every day. Do you all feel the importance of water?
Friends of the Earth (HK) organises Water Forum to celebrate World Water Day, 22 March every year since its launch in 2014. We invited stakeholders in Hong Kong and around the world to share their experience, ideas and insights on water conservation, coastal defence and adaptation measures against climate change. As the virus outbreak spreads, our forums and activities are being cancelled or postponed. However, we can still rethink experts’ advice to remind us about water crisis and climate change before the forthcoming World Water Day 2020.
At the Water Forum last year, Prof. Ho Kin Chung, BBS, JP, President of Hong Kong Academy of Environmental Science and Founder of Polar Research Institute of Hong Kong described the various symptoms of climate change over his years of research in the Arctic region, such as glacial retreat, biodiversity loss, and red tide blooms. He noted that while water is a crucial factor that affects weather and climate patterns, the ocean has been severely understudied. Climate change is inevitable, but its impact can be lessened by implementing mitigation and adaptation measures as soon as possible.
Dr. Faith Chan, Assistant Prof. of Environmental Sciences, University of Nottingham Ningbo China recounted the extensive damages done by the last two super typhoons, Hato and Mangkhut. He noted that government’s urban planning policies and practices need to incorporate flood risk management. He pointed towards the Netherlands’ 1-in-10,000 years flood barrier and Shenzhen’s use of mangroves in the Inner Deep Bay to manage floods as references.
Looking into the Greater Bay Area, Mr. He Zhibo, Vice Chief Engineer & Director of Flood Control and Drought Relief Office of Pearl River Water Resources Commission, Ministry of Water Resources said the existing flood defence does not match the standards of other metropolitan areas (New York, San Francisco, and Tokyo). The Greater Bay Area is becoming less capable of managing flood risk in a warming climate as sea level rises and typhoons and heavy rainstorms become more frequent. He proposed a paradigm shift in flood risk management that prioritises risk reduction. Flood defence infrastructure needs to be upgraded in an ecologically-sustainable manner while monitoring and forecasting systems should be enhanced.