Sowing the Seeds of Sustainability


Message from the Vice-Chancellor

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Prof.Rocky S. Tuan

Vice-Chancellor and President
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

I am delighted to introduce you to the inaugural issue of CUHK Sustainability, a new publication seeking to encapsulate, in thoughtful and engaging features, the efforts and achievements of the CUHK community in driving sustainability over the past year.

Sustainability is the tenet of many nowadays, but few have fathomed its full implications. It does not simply entail environmental improvement or protection, but negotiates social and economic processes as well. The year 2018 witnessed a deepening of CUHK’s engagement with these interconnected pillars of sustainability, as the University, in partnership with the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, has assumed the responsibility as the host of the Hong Kong Chapter of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN Hong Kong).

Launched in January 2018, SDSN Hong Kong aims at harnessing the expertise, information and resources from academic, philanthropic, government, business, and non-profit sectors to tackle the most pressing environmental, social and economic issues of the day. Through this multi-faceted platform, we hope to promulgate the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) drawn up by the global SDSN and catalyze local and regional actions. At the institutional level, we also hope to provide counsel to the government in its formulation of policies that aim to take on the challenges of sustainable development.

In coordination with the launching of SDSN Hong Kong, the focus of CUHK Sustainability 2018 is on the work accomplished by CUHK members on the three fronts of sustainability, namely the biosphere, society, and economy.

With the biosphere, we are homing in on climate action, as climate change wields inexorable power over all lives and directly affects human survival. The University has been actively engaged in nurturing sustainability-minded, socially-empowered student leaders who are vocal on the issue and ready to translate novel ideas into actions. Toby Lau, a biomedical engineering alumnus, is one such advocate. Formerly a docent of the Jockey Club Museum of Climate Change at CUHK and now a Youth Network Coordinator of SDSN Hong Kong, the sustainability lobbyist is energetically involved in motivating young people to engage with the SDGs in the city.  
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In the society space, we are taking a serious look at the issue of ‘happiness’. While ranked the world’s freest economy and as a frontrunner in global competitiveness, Hong Kong placed only 76th in the latest World Happiness Report. To sow the seeds of happiness in the city, the Jockey Club Positive Education ‘Ascend and Radiate’ Project (JC-PEAR), jointly developed by our Faculty of Social Science and the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, provides mentorship to local primary and secondary schools in bringing positive education into the curriculum. An additional enabling program is the ‘Fitness x Mentorship’ Scheme where CUHK students share the joy, knowledge and techniques of playing sports with different community groups.  
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CUHK has also contributed to sustained economic growth through encouraging entrepreneurship among young people, who, being naturally creative, idealistic and ambitious, are most inclined to run businesses that are in keeping with the SDGs. To this end, the Center for Entrepreneurship made SDGs the theme of this year’s Hong Kong Social Enterprise Challenge, in which SDSN Hong Kong will stand all participants in good stead through offering SDG-related training.  
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The energetic and programmatic participation of the CUHK community in all three fronts of sustainability embodies a holistic approach to meeting the grand challenge of sustainability. We hope you enjoy these features, and will find in them food for thought and inspiration for incorporating the SDGs in the conduct of everyday life. Sustainability is not abstract talk, but a global issue that directly impacts our present and future. As a Native American saying goes, which was also mentioned by one of the interviewees: ‘We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.’

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