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Home or Farm?


The Government started to gauge public views on building a new town in Yuen Long South in mid-April, triggering discussions about the future development of agriculture in Hong Kong. Similar debates have been generated as the Government earlier launched a study on North East New Territories. Our latest analysis elaborates on the current agricultural policies and the uses of farmland, which sheds some light on the development of agriculture, and discusses whether Hong Kong should promote agricultural development or conserve existing farmland.

Bottleneck in recycling


The Government suggests producers to take responsibility on glass beverage bottle recycling, aiming to recover as much as 70% of waste glass. But glass takes up only a small percentage of municipal solid waste, and the limited uses for recycled glass can hardly achieve the best value for money. The Centre’s analysis for this week discusses the difficulties facing local recovery and recycling industry, with a view to resolving this environmental problem from a practical point of view and through diverse initiatives.

Standardising working hours?


The strike of dockers, which started last month, has drawn attention to the long working hours in Hong Kong. In a separate development, the Labour and Welfare Bureau announced the set up of a Special Committee on Standard Working Hours to study the viability of legislation in three years. The Bauhinia analysis for this week summarises overseas experience and different points of view to drive public discussion.

Continuing education matters


Young people around the world are facing notable hurdles entering the job market, such as a high rate of youth unemployment. Some of them may look for career opportunities outside their professions, generating significant demand for continuing education. However, there have been comments saying that our society tends to neglect the importance of continuing education as it is not considered as part of standard education system.

The cost of ‘Occupy Central’


There has been growing concerns over the potential impact that the proposed ‘Occupy Central’ movement would have on society. It will be hard for us to make an evaluation without looking into the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Movement in the United States and the ’15-M Movement’ in Spain, which have proven that economic conditions, public acceptability and participants’ background are decisive factors in social movements. The Centre will closely monitor its developments and make timely assessment.

More behind the concept of suspended coffee


Suspended coffee, a new initiative that small businesses take to help the needy, is a good example of how the business sector can contribute to poverty reduction. This shares the same philosophy of the Centre’s soon-to-be-released research — the business sector should have a more diverse role to play in alleviating poverty. The ‘stand-by’ resources allow more flexibility and are apt to achieve a win-win solution. However, some problems need to be solved before such concept can be further developed.

Addressing youth unemployment


The latest unemployment rate of Hong Kong youth aged between 15 and 19 was 12.4%, and 7.4% for the age group from 15 to 24, which are significantly higher than the overall average of 3.4%. To tackle the problem of youth unemployment, we should think beyond the conventional education system. The dual system of Germany, which has the lowest youth unemployment rate across Europe, may be a good example for countries facing a similar problem.

Sugar as a life and death issue


Today, the world population on average consumes roughly 23kg of sugar per capita every year, a significant increase of 350% from 5.1kg at the beginning of the 20th century. Considering the health effects of sugar, the Hong Kong Government issued ‘Trade Guidelines for Reducing Sugars and Fats in Food’ in late 2012 and launched the Nutrition Labelling Scheme three years ago. The Bauhinia believes more could be done to promote a healthy lifestyle.

Urban farming in Hong Kong


The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and the Vegetable Marketing Organisation have recently made use of vacant industrial buildings for growing hydroponic vegetables, which are sold at a lower price than imported organic vegetables. Urban farming should be further explored when food safety is drawing a high level of attention nowadays and the prices of food from the Mainland may increase as a result of economic and population growth, as well as the rise in local demand for food.

Fund for the future


To get ready for the public finance implications of population ageing, news said the Government would study related policies implemented in other countries, including the idea of future fund, which has been used in Australia and New Zealand since the 2000s to strengthen Government’s long-term financial position by providing unfunded retirement liabilities.