Special report – Environmental awareness: before and after Hato

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The environmental awareness of Macau residents has improved dramatically in recent years, but more is needed

MB September 2021 Special Report | Macao Green


Professor Qingbin Song

At the time of Chui Sai On, there was a lot of talk about “scientific governance”. One of the tools put forward to achieve this goal was the use of public consultations combined with regular opinion polls (“scientific decision-making based on the opinions and aspirations of citizens”, as the Government has described. the idea in 2010).

But if the Macau government had followed what several scientific studies say about residents’ relationship with the environment, it would have already implemented more drastic measures, less based on consensus and awareness.

The truth is, survey responses are one thing, and what residents think and really want is another.

Let’s go back to 2015. At the time, the Environmental Protection Bureau (DSPA) was conducting regular surveys on the environmental satisfaction of the population, and the report for that year said: “[there is] a noticeable lack of determination and sense of responsibility on the part of citizens with regard to carrying out environmental actions.

Two years later, Super Typhoon Hato happened, and some (a lot?) Things have changed. “People started to feel like they had to do something. The population already feels that there are needs linked to the problem of sustainability that must be met. In Macau, there is already concern, ”noted in 2019 Macau’s best-known local ecologist, Annie Lao.

In addition to the great effort that the Macao government has made in the area of ​​environmental education and public policy propaganda, which is increasingly visible in the Region, the results of several academic surveys, carried out in recent years based on surveys of population, seem to agree with Annie Lao: According to research conducted by Professor Qingbin Song, Macau Environmental Research Institute, Macau University of Science and Technology, more than 70 percent of those surveyed agreed that they would pay for the collection and food waste processing, and 85 percent of those surveyed were willing to pay for solid waste recycling in Macau.

“Residents’ awareness and attitude towards the environment has improved significantly in recent years” – Qingbin Song

“More and more residents can recognize the environmental benefits of these government actions and are ready to support and participate in them. It’s a very good phenomenon, ”said Professor Song. Macau Affairs. “The political decisions of the government and the ideas of the locals can complement each other and jointly promote environmental protection and sustainable development in Macau.

However, all experts know that there are gaps between the environmental awareness of residents and their daily behavior. “Environmental awareness shown in polls is not always equivalent to actual behavior,” concedes Professor Song.

In an interview with Macau Affairs, Mr. Song, one of the leading local experts in this field, explains that environmental behavior is affected by several internal factors (e.g. attitudes, personality variables and subject cognition) and situational variables (e.g. example economic conditions and social pressure). He cites this example: Most people in Macau believe that electric vehicles are good for the environment, but due to their higher cost and lack of charging facilities, the market share of electric vehicles in Macau n was only 0.55% in 2020.

“In addition, it seems that residents – in order to present themselves at the precise moment they respond as having better environmental ethics – can beautify their cognition and consciousness when answering questions,” warns Professor Song. “The environmental awareness of residents indicated in the survey is a global response of their attitude and environmental cognition, etc., which does not completely determine their behavior,” he stresses.

“A good environmental conscience is often one of the most important preconditions for solving environmental problems,” said the Macau-based researcher. Macau Affairs, concluding with the hopeful proposition that “residents’ awareness and attitude towards the environment has improved considerably in recent years”.

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