The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) is a socially responsible institution committed to climate change research and serving as a test bed for low-carbon innovation, and was the first local university to pledge to become carbon neutral, by 2038. Recently, CUHK became a member of the International Universities Climate Alliance (IUCA) and will join hands with universities globally to tackle the unprecedented challenge of climate change.
The IUCA, established in April 2020 and convened by the University of New South Wales in Australia, seeks to translate research into practice by sharing findings with global leaders, policymakers and business executives to facilitate climate action. IUCA is a global alliance of diverse universities committed to evidence-based research and practice, with multi-disciplinary focus on climate change science, impact, mitigation and adaptation. Members of the alliance include The University of Oxford, The California Institute of Technology, Nanjing University, The National University of Singapore, The University of Zurich and Yale University.
CUHK will collaborate with the IUCA to develop a framework for assessing and modelling effects on climate-sensitive health. It will enable decision makers, particularly in the health sector and at the national level, to improve their understanding of the potential impact of climate change on health, and make it easier for them to come to decisions on climate preparedness, adaptation, and mitigation in their regions.
Professor Rocky S. Tuan, Vice-Chancellor and President of CUHK said, “The University is honored to join the IUCA. Universities are pioneers in creating knowledge and have an essential role in promoting sustainable development. CUHK is at the forefront of climate research, and its researchers are contributing strongly to the climate response both locally and globally.”
Climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing society today. Over the years, CUHK has made extraordinary achievements in climate change and related studies. The establishment of the State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology in 2008 exemplifies CUHK’s unique position in pioneering research in agricultural technology to increase food security resilience in the face of climate change. In 2011, the Institute of Environment, Energy and Sustainability was set up to promote multi-disciplinary environmental research. In 2013, CUHK established the Institute of Future Cities to undertake urban climate studies, foster sustainable cities and support effective climate action globally and, in collaboration with the University of Exeter in the UK, founded the CUHK–University of Exeter Joint Centre for Environmental Sustainability and Resilience to initiate high impact climate research on the changing environment and its effects on human health and well-being. In response to the pressing need to make climate education accessible to a wider audience, in December 2013, CUHK established the Jockey Club Museum of Climate Change (MoCC), the first museum of its kind in the world, to promote positive changes in knowledge, attitudes and behaviour related to climate change. One of the museum’s flagship educational initiatives is the MoCC Ambassadorship, a service-learning internship programme designed for CUHK undergraduate students.
Hermia Chan, an MoCC Ambassador and a fourth-year student of the Global Studies Programme, recently represented CUHK when she joined an international panel of scientists and experts in one of the sessions of the IUCA’s Earth Day #ClimateTalks Student Forum – “Reimagining the Future of Climate Change Resilient Communities”. She also told the audience about the climate challenges in Hong Kong, including the risks associated with rising sea levels, public health threats, and gaps in climate education. Taking advantage of the experience she gained at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) last year, Hermia also spoke on how young people can take the lead in climate action.
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