Green Peng Chau Association is a charity organisation founded in 1991 by a group of islanders who love and care about nature and Peng Chau. We are committed to promoting public awareness and environmental education, attention in Peng Chau’s environment and local culture.
Sannie Chan Lit Fong has done more than possibly anybody else to preserve and protect Peng Chau Island from incompatible developments and to disseminate green knowledge in the local community. She does this through talks, recycling work, health seminars and the application of organic farming at two farms she helped establish. Sannie founded the Green Peng Chau Association (GPCA) about twenty years ago and is still the executive director of the Association. Undaunted by difficulties and initial low interest on the part of sections of the local community, Sannie has helped propagate Peng Chau’s reputation as a quiet, motor-vehicle free island of outstanding natural and ecological characteristic with a potential for sustainable ecotourism and organic farming development.
Sannie started an ecotourism project in on Peng Chau in 2000. “Green Cultural Island” was implemented when they received Government funding for sustainable development on Peng Chau Island in 2004. As part of this project, they collect data and information on the island’s history and culture (from stone age times), organise ecotourism, organic farming, a green market that sells local products and tries to set up the Island as a showcase for the sustainable development community.
Peng Chau, once a prosperous island is now impoverished due to the modernisation of China and globalisation. Sannie has a powerful sense of belonging. She felt that she should do something about the dire situation. She wants to do something for the next generation and make Peng Chau economically and environmentally sustainable.
Through her dedication to re-discovery the island’s history and character, Sannie now has a deeper understanding of sustainable development and how important sustainable development strategies are. She gained a lot of experience in how to collaborate with local people and put theories into practice. She received help from the natives who gave her information and from many other stakeholders: other green groups on biodiversity in Peng Chau, volunteer help to produce maps, the government and NGOs support funded the organic farm.
Sannie faced many obstacles in proceeding with her initiatives on Peng Chau. She runs exhibitions to introduce people to their cause but the people in Hong Kong are too busy, and there never seems to be enough human resources to do everything. The government does not seem to understand what sustainable development means. Bureaucracy and lack of communication between departments is also an obstacle. They give up too quickly, which is one of the reasons why Sannie has not had success with the green market. The project has however raised awareness and the profile of the island. They created the first map made by the locals, and now Peng Chau is recognised as an eco-tourism destination in Hong Kong.
Sannie has also been able to spread her work to other organisations. Students from school and university come to learn about ecotourism, sustainable development and organic farming.
When asked about her hopes and visions for the future Sannie shared the following: “Nowadays lots of people are suffering from the economic downturn and bad health. People live in an illusion and are controlled by the material world. I hope they can return to nature and be nurtured. Nature makes us happy, and they should become more spiritual.”