The Faculty of Architecture at the University of Hong Kong recently published the world's first study on the greenspace exposure levels, revealing disparities in greenspace coverage and exposure levels across over a thousand cities worldwide. The study scientifically measures the opportunities for residents in different regions to interact with greenspaces. Despite Hong Kong and Singapore having greenspace coverage rates of 70% and 84% respectively, the exposure levels are only 35% and 55%. According to data from the Planning Department, around 65% of Hong Kong's land is covered by forests, shrubs, and grasslands, including parts of country parks or nature reserves. The government has been promoting urban greening for many years to develop a greener environment in Hong Kong. In 2010, the Greening, Landscape, and Tree Management Section was established under the Works Branch of Development Bureau to coordinate various departments in establishing multi-level greening, landscaping, and tree management strategies. How effective have these efforts been?


    • Care in Action

      Care in Action

      2022's policy address proposed the establishment of “Care Teams,” dividing Hong Kong's 18 districts into over 400 sub-districts, each with its own Care Team. This initiative, first rolled out in Tsuen Wan District and Southern District, serves as an organization to assist with government's district policies and to consolidate community resources. What specific services will it provide? How does the role of the Care Teams in the community differ from other groups serving the community? The government hopes to draw on the experiences gained in Tsuen Wan and Southern Districts and extend them to the remaining 16 districts. What insights do the District Officers, who are also the commanders of the Care Teams, have to share? And what suggestions might Care Team members have for reconsidering the service and operational model of the Care Teams?

    • Jobs for All?

      Jobs for All?

      There is a phenomenon of manpower mismatch. Many industries are experiencing manpower shortages and recruitment difficulties. As a way of resolving the labour shortage, the government decided to import labour. There have, however, been voices in society which suggest that importing labour is not addressing the root causes of the problem. Ultimately, we will still have to “rely on ourselves”. Effort should be made to encourage citizens of all ages to accept a variety of trades including some manual labour and “offensive trades” and provide more resources for vocational retraining. Meanwhile, it is necessary to attract more people to inherit various traditional and possibly declining industries.

    • SEN Parents and the Lifelong Worry

      SEN Parents and the Lifelong Worry

      Parents always worry about their children, regardless of their age. For parents of person with special education needs, their concerns about their children's livelihood extend even beyond their passing. A few years ago, the government introduced the “Special Needs Trust”, which are managed by the Social Welfare Department and designed to manage the inheritance for parents of person with intellectual disabilities, mental disorders, or autism. Regular disbursements will be made to their children, but not many trust accounts have been opened. Parents think that this program lacks transparency and flexibility in financial investments, and they worry that once the funds are used up, their children will lose the necessary care. Some suggest that the entire program should be reviewed for better flexibility and more promotion should be made to achieve a greater impact, ensuring that children with special needs receive care and assistance in the future.

    • Demystifying the IB

      Demystifying the IB

      The International Baccalaureate (IB) programme has gained considerable popularity in recent years among parents, and the number of IB top scorers is also on the rise. As well as international schools offering relevant non-local courses, more schools participating in the Direct Subsidy Scheme have also introduced the IB programmes. The IB curriculum attracted a great deal of attention from the education sector and parents. However, most DSS schools that offer IB programmes only provide a two-year International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) and schools that offer IB programmes must adopt a two-pronged approach, which means offering IB and local programmes simultaneously. Parents often mistakenly believe that IB courses are easier than traditional local courses. However, IB students must not only cope with public examinations, but also manage their time effectively and complete multiple papers and assignments. Pressure is no less than that which students face in the HKDSE. How well do parents understand IB programmes? Are IB students truly free from homework and exam pressures?

    • Mind Matters

      Mind Matters

      According to the Hospital Authority, in 2021, there were about 270,000 patients with mental illness receiving treatment under their care in Hong Kong, with approximately 370 psychiatrists available. The ratio of mental health patients to psychiatrists in Hong Kong has long been below the World Health Organization's recommendation of at least one psychiatrist per 10,000 people. The shortage of medical staff leads to long waiting times for patients. In June 2023, the government proposed ten measures to strengthen mental health support. These include optimizing the ratio of case managers to patients with severe mental illnesses to no more than 1:40, prescribing newer medications with fewer side effects, reviewing the “conditional discharge” mechanism, and exploring the feasibility of “Compulsory Treatment Order”. However, some scholars point out that the fundamental issue is the shortage of medical staff. The question remains: how can mental health services be optimized for the greatest benefit of the patients?

    • Care for Elderly Carer

      Care for Elderly Carer

      The aging population in Hong Kong has led to an increasing number of carers. When caring for the care recipients, carers not only have to address their needs but also face challenges related to their own mental well-being, lack of caregiving skills, and financial support, etc. In the 2022 Policy Address, the government reinforced the implementation of carer support policies. However, despite policy implementation, there have been a series of family tragedies in society, highlighting the issues of 'elderly caring for the elderly' and 'elderly caring for the disabled', and the heavy burden borne by elderly carers as well. How can we alleviate their pressure and create breathing space for them?

    • The New Era of AI

      The New Era of AI

      ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence chat robot developed by OpenAI, has swept the world, triggering a debate on whether AI will replace humans. While some schools have banned its use, many others have chosen to embrace technology and continue developing AI teaching platforms to encourage student usage. The business sector, on the other hand, welcome this trend in general. However, will this lead to a substantial number of job losses? What impact will AI have on human employment? Could AI eventually surpass human control as depicted in science fiction?

    • Burning Issue

      Burning Issue

      In the sweltering summer heat, prolonged exposure to the sun can easily lead to heatstroke. The Labour Department recently released new Guidance Notes on Prevention of Heat Stroke at Work, based on the Observatory's Hong Kong Heat Index. These include amber, red, and black-level warnings, outlining rest arrangements for outdoor workers under each warning level. For outdoor workers, the critical question is whether these new guidance notes can ensure their health. The guidelines also categorize labour intensity into light, moderate, heavy, and very heavy physical workload, but do workers know which category they fall into? Meanwhile, what challenges do employers face in implementing these guidelines, and are there criminal liabilities for employers who fail to provide rest periods as stipulated? The increasingly common high temperatures and heatwaves are linked to climate change. Facing extreme heat, we must adopt strategies to adapt and also try to mitigate climate change from various angles.

    • Green Goodbye

      Green Goodbye

      In recent years, the government has actively promoted green burials, encouraging citizens to handle their ancestors' ashes in more environmentally friendly and sustainable ways, including scattering in gardens of remembrance and at sea. The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department states that green burials can help save land resources needed for constructing columbaria in the long run. While the number of green burials has increased over the past decade, traditional beliefs still influence their prevalence, preventing them from becoming widespread. Funeral industry representatives emphasize the importance of understanding and preparing both pre- and post-mortem plans to increase the adoption of green burials, also urging citizens to plan their final affairs in advance.

    • Let Them Shine

      Let Them Shine

      The lives of autistic individuals are filled with challenges at various stages of their development. Especially after they leave school and enter the workplace, even more challenges await them. In December 2021, the Census and Statistics Department released a territory-wide survey on persons with disabilities and chronic diseases. The survey revealed that, in Hong Kong, there are 22,400 people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), of which 10,500 are aged over 15 and only 2,500 are employed. Local support services for autistic people have focused on in-school training. It wasn’t until 2018, that the government set up support centres for teenagers with high functioning autism. Currently, there is a half-year waiting period for services at the center, reflecting the high demand for these services. How can we improve the employment prospects of people with autism? What can be done to help autism persons to integrating into the workforce?