Walk21HK Public Forum: Connecting People to Water

Creating an Accessible, World-class Hong Kong Harbourfront for All
Leading to opening of registration to Walk21 Hong Kong Conference (Walk21HK)

HONG KONG, Thursday, 19 May 2016 – Independent public policy think tank Civic Exchange kick-started the Walk21 Hong Kong Conference (Walk21HK) today with its pre-conference event (Public Forum) funded by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust and MTR Corporation, and co-hosted with Energizing Kowloon East Office (EKEO) of Development Bureau.

Maura Wong, CEO of Civic Exchange, announced the official opening of registration to the Walk21 Hong Kong Conference. She introduced Walk21, an international organisation supporting and promoting walking, as a partner to Civic Exchange in co-organising Walk21HK in October 2016. She thanked EKEO for co-hosting the Public Forum and for their tremendous support. In addition, Maura expressed her gratitude to Hong Kong Jockey Club Charity Trust for their support as Lead Sponsor of Walk21HK. She further extended her appreciation to Diamond Sponsor of Walk21, MTR Corporation, and all other speakers of the Public Forum for supporting the event.

Jim Walker of UK-based Walk 21 expressed his excitement to co-host with Civic Exchange the first Walk21 Conference in Asia. He looks forward to a new dimension of interactive dialogue in the Asian context and wishes to meet the Forum participants again at Walk21HK.

Themed “Connecting People to Water”, the Public Forum attracted over 200 delegates from the Government, planners, architects, consultants, property owners, academics, NGOs, and media to attend. The event aims to promote not only world-class harbourfront design, but also cross-sectoral collaboration to overcome long-term constraints that have impeded the development of an accessible and desirable harbourfront in Hong Kong.

Keynote and panel speakers at the Public Forum – including Bing Thom, renowned architect and the winning designer of West Kowloon’s Xiqu Centre; Nicholas Brooke, Chairman of Harbourfront Commission; K K Ling, Director of Planning; Eunice Mak, President of Hong Kong Institute of Planners; Vincent Ng, President of Hong Kong Institute of Architects; Brenda Au, Head of Energizing Kowloon East Office; Paul Zimmerman, CEO of Designing Hong Kong; Peter Cookson Smith, President of Hong Kong Institute of Urban Design; and Jim Walker, Director of Walk21 – shared their invaluable insights.

Hong Kong’s promenade spanning 73 kilometers along Victoria Harbour can provide a stunning platform for sports, festive and cultural events, as well as a sanctuary for people from the city’s hustle and bustle. Panelists agreed that Hong Kong’s harbourfront is unique because it is in the urban centre and within walking distance from most parts of the city. Our harbourfront can be a dynamic place for both recreational and commercial use. It could be an ideal place for people to hang out with families and friends and to have fun. To make the most out of our harbourfront requires good coordination among governmental agencies, the private sector, and environmental as well as community groups – the role of the Harbourfront Authority.

Hong Kong’s harbourfront has the potential to become a destination of choice for major international waterfront events. Hong Kong people increasingly demand high quality cultural events, such as art shows, concerts and carnivals, and we should capitalise on our world-famous harbourfront to provide an outdoor alternative to some of these events. Participants urged for a well-thought out and properly-designed plan, so that our harbourfront can become a hub for the city’s fast-emerging creative and cultural scene. A vibrant creative and cultural sector not only befits Hong Kong’s status as a global city, but also contributes to economic diversification and a wider range of employment opportunities especially for the young people.

Walk21 is an international conference series started by UK-based [NGO] Walk21. It has been held in 16 cities since 2000 to promote walking, showcase cities, share best practice and catalyse new initiatives and partnerships. Walk21HK will be the first one in Asia of this series. It will be held from 3 to 7 October 2016, comprising a conference at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (3 to 5 October), a public forum (6 October), and a series of walkshops (7 October). For details and registration, please visit www.walk21hk.com.