The 1963 drought has played a central role in Hong Kong's water history for about six decades, even though the city has by now become a completely different place—it has undergone fundamental transformations in its social, economic and political systems. Several world-class infrastructure projects have ensured that Hong Kongers have enjoyed uninterrupted water supply since 1982, making us oblivious to the fact that the city has been hit by episodes of droughts in the past four decades. There is every reason to believe that these projects will continue to insulate Hong Kong people from the impacts of droughts. The central thesis of this talk: The official narrative of Hong Kong's water story has been anchored in the 1963 drought, but circumstances have changed. Thus, continuing to fear the spectre of drought-induced water-use restrictions runs the risk of our becoming prisoners of this entrenched narrative—blinded by outdated premises and overlooking the most pressing issues in water planning in the 21st century. It is time for us to contemplate alternative narratives that will help us address real challenges.
Speaker: Frederick Lee
Centre for Water Technology and Policy
The University of Hong Kong