Over 400 local and international academics, professionals and government officials took part in a two-day conference opened Monday in Hong Kong to share their expertise and experience in heritage conservation and discuss the challenges of preserving historic buildings in the context of rapid urban development.
The International Conference on Heritage Conservation 2011, with the theme "Conservation and Development - Partners or Rivals? ", was jointly organized by the city's Commissioner for Heritage's Office of the Development Bureau and the Antiquities and Monuments Office of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.
When delivering a keynote speech at the conference's opening ceremony, Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang said that for decades, Hong Kong had invested heavily in infrastructure to modernize the city, improve the living environment, maintain Hong Kong's global competitiveness and create jobs.
Tsang noted that there had been higher public expectations on the government to preserve the city's built heritage in recent years.
"In my 2007 Policy Address, I announced a new heritage conservation policy and promised to press ahead with heritage conservation work. Over the past four years we have made good progress with our various heritage conservation efforts," he said.
In the past few years, the government has launched a series of initiatives to protect, conserve and revitalize Hong Kong's historic buildings. These have included the Heritage Impact Assessment for public works projects, the Revitalizing Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme, providing economic incentives to private owners for conserving their historic buildings, and the Conserving Central initiative as announced by the Chief Executive in his 2009-10 Policy Address.
Esteemed keynote speakers at the plenary session on Monday included Director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage Shan Jixiang; President of the Advisory Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites John Hurd; President of ICOMOS France Pierre-Antoine Gatier; and Chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, New York, Robert Tierney.
In addition to two plenary sessions and five break-out sessions on various heritage conservation topics, the conference participants will also have an opportunity to visit historic buildings in Hong Kong, including the Savannah College of Art and Design, Hong Kong, formerly the North Kowloon Magistracy.