China’s huge population, growing prosperity, and traditional culture places it front and centre in the global effort to protect our planet's biodiversity. Yet, a burgeoning demand for endangered wildlife products, combined with China’s rapidly growing influence and  interdependence with the global economy presents both challenges and opportunities for those seeking to reverse the destruction to our environment. The country has the highest demand on wild life in the world owing to traditional beliefs, cultural habits, and greed. This insatiable appetite must change in order to protect and preserve biodiversity as we know it. As China develops, attitudes are changing at an impressive rate so although a daunting task, I'm confident it can be achieved because the Chinese are practical and adaptable. After all, we used to bind our women’s' feet for centuries until a few decades ago, yet today it is unthinkable!

 

With rapid development comes pollution and food safety issues, positioning China at the cusp of a new era where environmental concerns are a top priority for both the political establishment and the growing middle class. However, like any proud race, the Chinese people do not respond well to finger pointing and hectoring, taking such an approach is counterproductive and doomed to fail. Only by changing the perception of their own self-interest can attitudes and habits be changed. Bearing in mind China's rapidly increasing pluralism, as someone based in Hong Kong who racially and culturally bridges the gap between China and the West, I am in an ideal position to educate and influence, affecting the requisite change which will have positive outcomes for a sustainable environment. China’s evolution is welcome, but in the field of environmental and biodiversity protection, a virtual revolution is urgently required.

For over a century Hong Kong has arguably been the most important nexus between China and the West. Now part of the PRC, the Special Administrative Region presents an ideal platform to reach out to Chinese people with new ideas. With the world's 6th highest GDP (PPP) per capita and a critical role as an international financial hub, Hong Kong channels 33% of the foreign capital flows into China. But Hong Kong’s historical influence also extends to the latest foreign trends, such as international cuisine, entertainment, fashion & technology. Endorsements from prestigious brands would be of significant benefit towards leading the way to change.

Having worked in Hong Kong's public broadcasting and cinematic field since 1987, I make use of that in the Chinese diaspora to advocate via art, culture, media, and education. I am also privileged to be able to access and influence both the public and private sectors, often collaborating with other NGOs who share my vision and concern. Over several years of intensive participation in international conservation efforts, I've had the opportunity to associate with and learn from many leading experts in their respective fields. Their collective analysis is alarming and has awakened my sense of urgency towards conservation issues. During this time, my work on marine conservation (particularly the ban on shark fin), and elephant protection advocacy has gained much momentum as reflected by positive and concrete results from my lobbying with governing bodies. My efforts enjoy tremendous public support and awareness via social and other media. I intend to scale up my efforts to affect urgent change where possible and I'm developing a stronger platform to better deliver more projects to effectively reach out to China and the rest of the world.

Sharon Kwok
Executive Director & Founder