2 March 2015 / Did you know that the Government has a $5 billion dollar fund for supporting community green projects? On Monday we were invited to join an afternoon at the Science Museum to find out more at the annual ECF EECA Sharing Session.
The Environment and Conservation Fund (ECF) was set up by the Government in 1994 to provide funding for local non-profit organisations (including universities) and community groups to conduct research and for energy conservation, waste reduction and environmental education projects and activities.
ECF has ambitious aims and projects must measurably contribute to the overall environment of Hong Kong, raise environmental awareness of the local community, or mobilise the community to take action to improve the environment.
In 2014 the ECF reported total equity of $5.96 billion following a cash injection of $5 billion (interestingly- of which $4.7 billion was invested in the Exchange Fund, used as a reserve to back the Hong Kong dollar). Some $205 million was distributed to 383 projects in 2014. This must make Hong Kong one of the best places for public funding support for green projects in the world!
The Government is encouraging organisations to use for ECF to support Hong Kong’s Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (BSAP) related projects and in line with this made Biodiversity one of the four priority themes for 2014-2016.
There was a full house in the Science Museum auditorium for an informative session with a schedule of presentations, exhibition panels and Q&A.
Ryan Leung of Lung Fu Shan Environmental Education Centre gave an overview of Biodiversity and related issues as potential areas for action.
Lo Wai-yan of Hong Kong Bird Watching Society presented on a unique programme to engage senior citizens in birdwatching and biodiversity in 10 urban parks, with some 500 senior citizens successfully trained as birdwatching guides, in turn reaching some 7,000 members of the public over one year.
Mr Kwong Hing Siu of Ying Wa Primary School and Mr Pang Ching-kuen of China Holiness Church Living Spirit College talked about their schools’ experience of setting up organic farms on the school roof and in a 30,000 square foot former carparking space shared by three schools respectively. Mr Pang candidly shared the downs as well as ups of their experimental organic farming eg natural disasters- a good learning experience for the students nonetheless!
Dr Samuel Chui of the Environmental Protection Department and EECA Sub-Vetting Committee member gave a short presentation with advice to applicants reminding that the goal is to measurably improve participants’ environmental knowledge leading to behaviour change, and that projects must be sustainable, ideally coordinating with broad stakeholders and partners (helpful to lower costs).
The next round of EECA General Projects closes on 20 April with $13 million available; good luck! For details see EECA website.