Hong Kong Geopark respects local people, their communities, and their traditional way of life, and has an active role in the economic development of its territory through enhancement of a general image linked to the geological heritage and the development of sustainable tourism. Hong Kong Geopark fulfils its role by creating infrastructure, activities and supporting visitor’s access and interpretation of the Geopark and its heritages.
A geopark is not only about geological and geomorphological conservation, enhancing sustainable development involving local communities is also one of the main goals. To promote local participation, Hong Kong Geopark has been working as a facilitator to assist local people to understand the geological history of their own community, to learn the skills to tell their stories. New ideas have also been brought in, e.g. to encourage local restaurants to create geopark-related dishes, to help enrich visitor experience as well as to enhance the sustainable development of local economy.
Like many other UNESCO Global Geoparks, Hong Kong Geopark values and provides an open and participative environment for local engagement and partnership. While Hong Kong Geopark offer assistance to facilitate our partners’ fulfillment of these requirements and to ensure they operate in line with the GGN concept, we will NOT take part in the business operations of any public or private partnership programme.
Most of the remote villages and communities in Hong Kong experienced a sharp population decline in 1960s and 70s, as the villagers moved to the urban area or emigrated overseas. In recent years, many of the communities are almost deserted, with only a few elderly villagers remaining.
Under the “Same Roots, Same Origins” project, the geopark team approached the local communities of Hong Kong Geopark to learn about their history, culture, heritage and stories, and recorded and transferred the information into “story rooms” and publications to promote and conserve their heritage.
Mr Wong Kam-sing, Secretary for the Environment of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, outlined the Government’s efforts in promoting rural sustainability in Hong Kong at the Seminar on Community Sustainable Development and said: “the Government has adopted a diversified and flexible approach in supporting and promoting the conservation of rural areas through harnessing community efforts. We have actively engaged the local communities and assisted NGOs in advancing conservation and in co-managing rural areas using innovative approaches”.
The sustainable rural revitalisation project at Lai Chi Wo has been awarded the prestigious Special Recognition for Sustainable Development in the 2020 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. It showcases the best nature-based solutions to sustainable development undertaken by local communities.