27 Jun 19

Eco success in Greater Bay Area

Notwithstanding the tensions between Hong-Kong (at least, it’s citizens) and mainland China, the area around the former British overseas territory, known as the Greater Bay Area or GBA, is becoming one of the world’s most successful tech regions.

Mega-City with ambition

Chinese Government is redeveloping 9 cities in Guangdong, Hong-Kong and Macau into one large urban area, comprising over 70 million people with an isolated GDP size of USD 1.6 trillion. An important aspect of this development are the physical links between the cities and its focus on high-tech industries; Shenzhen, a young city and home to heavyweights such as Tencent and Huawei, is a good example of what China wants to achieve. But there is more than only tech.

Clean and Green

Since 2012, the “ecological civilisation” is part of China’s constitutional goals. Still the global number one polluter, China has been investing massively in clean energy, motivated not only by eco goals, but perhaps even more by the perspective of becoming less dependent on (foreign) oil to keep the country going.

Both transportation and real estate in the GBA are now eco-friendly. Electric buses and taxis have become the local standard and new buildings need to comply with severe energy consumption and emission regulations.

River Chiefs

Those who visited Hong-Kong or Guangdong 15 to 20 years ago, will remember the dirty and smelly rivers and the overall untidy aspect of landscapes in the region. Nowadays, “river chiefs” are being appointed to ensure that rivers become and stay clean, whilst others take care of forests, coastlines or air. Coordination between HK, Macau and Guangdong is ensured thanks to cross-boarder efforts.


As the GBA is expected to grow to 100 million people by 2030, and also because global warming presents risks of flooding for the region, many efforts are being made, not only to (keep) clean, but also to prevent future disasters. One such example is the “sponge city” technique where landscapes and underground tanks absorb and store rainwater.

Sustainability also comes with respect for regulations. Therefore, AI, predictive analysis are being put to use to anticipate damaging events. On a lesser scale, drones are also put to work to check the emissions of ships in the bay area, checking if the correct fuel types are used.

Investments and opportunities

When ecology becomes a business, investment opportunities pop up. New venture capital firms, specialised in green energy, eco-cleaning and sustainable transportation are supporting new companies and will, eventually, accelerate the achievement of China’s goals. Another proof of how China turns a threat into a lucrative opportunity.

Authored by: Yves Helven