Ocean Park and The Chinese University of Hong Kong Sign MOU for Integrated Wildlife Conservation and Education Programmes
Largest-Ever Education Conservation Initiative Conducted in Local Schools Includes Targeted Programming for Students with Special Educational Needs
Ocean Park and The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) today, strengthening their long-standing partnership on research initiatives, wildlife conservation and environmental education.
The new collaboration will focus on integrated wildlife conservation and education engagement with students and the community across different age ranges, including a programme tailor-designed for young children with special educational needs (SEN) and activities for the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“The Government has all along been very supportive of climate change initiatives and conservation efforts in Hong Kong. Recognising this need to combat climate change, the HKSAR Government pledged to work towards the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, as announced in the 2020 Policy Address. On conservation aspects, the Government is planning and preparing for the South Lantau Marine Park and North Lantau Marine Park, enhancing the protection of green turtles by expanding the Sham Wan Restricted Area and extending the restriction periods, strengthening the protection of endangered species, improving the facilities in country parks and revitalising remote countryside areas. The move towards carbon neutrality and nature conservation will not only protect the environment, but also promote a green economy and bring more green job opportunities to the community. Concerted efforts are needed from the public and business sectors as well as the general public, in particular the young people. Let’s make positive changes together by adopting a low carbon and green lifestyle, such as saving energy, reducing waste and practising ‘leave not trace’ when enjoying the countryside,” said Secretary for the Environment, Mr. Wong Kam-sing, GBS, JP, who witnessed the MOU signing ceremony today.
“As highlighted in our recently announced future strategy, Ocean Park will dedicate even more efforts to drive local wildlife conservation and education inside and outside the Park, with the goal of creating the ideal nature classroom for our future generations,” said Mr Lau Ming-wai, Chairman of Ocean Park. “We are thrilled to commence this new collaboration with CUHK, allowing us to expand our ongoing work with the University, share our professional knowledge, and provide a unique environment for local and overseas students, scholars and research pioneers. The Park is particularly delighted to join forces with CUHK to provide a dedicated programme for local students with special educational needs, offering them specially designed participatory learning activities led by specialists from the University and the Park. Through our refreshed vision for Ocean Park, we hope to provide the next generation with a strong environmental education foundation and create a lifelong curiosity about conservation.”
Professor Rocky S Tuan, Vice-Chancellor and President of CUHK, remarked, “Hong Kong is surrounded by the sea on three sides and its rich marine biodiversity offers great opportunities for scientific research. As early as 1970, CUHK established the Simon F.S. Li Marine Science Laboratory, which has served as a leading research base for marine scientists. CUHK researchers, with Ocean Park’s support, have made important discoveries in jellyfish research. Collaborating under the MOU, the two parties will also focus on recovering marine ecosystems, promoting marine education, and nurturing future leaders in sustainable development.” Professor Tuan added, “As the co-host of the Hong Kong Chapter of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN Hong Kong), CUHK looks forward to advancing SDG 14 ‘Life below Water’ and SDG 17 ‘Partnerships for the Goals’ in Hong Kong through this strategic partnership with Ocean Park.”
Expanding the long-standing partnership from research and conservation to education
Since 2013, Ocean Park has supported CUHK’s research on jellyfish, which led to a breakthrough in the field in 2020, by decoding for the first time high-quality genomes of two jellyfish species commonly found in Asian waters. This MOU will build on that research, with a new study exploring the nexus between climate change and global jellyfish populations, as many species have seen increased populations over the past two decades.
In addition to research collaboration, the two parties will come together to launch a series of new conservation education initiatives, with the aim of raising a new generation of conservation advocates and change makers in the city. The new initiatives will offer an array of interactive and hands-on learning opportunities for students from kindergarten to university.
Comprehensive education programmes targeting SEN students, and kindergarten to university students
One highlight of the new initiatives is a pioneer inquiry-based learning programme, targeting young SEN students in kindergartens and primary schools. Co-designed by CUHK educational psychologists specialising in SEN and Ocean Park’s Discovery and Education team, the programme will feature a series of participatory learning activities in the Park’s unique and immersive environment, as well as on the CUHK campus. SEN students will not only enjoy learning outside the typical classroom setting, but also enhance their observation, investigation and social skills through different levels of sensory stimulation.
A first-ever school-based, city-wide butterfly survey will also be launched to engage primary and secondary students in a biodiversity survey, with the aim of raising their awareness and understanding of biodiversity conservation, while contributing directly to the study. The programme echoes the two parties’ collaboration on the Ocean Park Conservation Chill Club – the largest school conservation programme in the city to date, which seeks to benefit over 40,000 local secondary and university students in a series of ideation, training and hands-on activities to spark their curiosity about conservation, inspire changes in their everyday habits, and nurture champions of biodiversity in Hong Kong.
Finally, Ocean Park will join hands with CUHK in advancing the UN SDGs through engagement with SDSN Hong Kong. Co-hosted by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust and CUHK, SDSN Hong Kong mobilises local and global scientific and technological expertise to promote practical solutions for sustainable development, including the implementation of the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement. Ocean Park will participate as a sustainability partner at SDSN Hong Kong’s first international meeting, the International Conference on Sustainable Development in Belt and Road Countries, which is scheduled to take place in early 2022.
About Ocean Park
Ocean Park is Hong Kong’s unique home-grown theme park, with a heritage of delivering family fun and fond memories. Since its opening in January 1977 as a non-profit organisation, Ocean Park has developed into a world-class attraction, connecting people with nature, and gained consistent recognition for its animal husbandry, research, and relationship with the community. The Park was successfully transformed into a premier international resort destination with the launch of the Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott Hotel in October 2018, providing guests with world-class hotel accommodation, along with panoramic views of the south part of Hong Kong Island, unique thrill rides, animal encounters, attractions with a local flavour, and a vast array of culinary choices – all in one destination. The Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott Hotel, a city resort hotel with 471 rooms located in Ocean Park and adjacent to an MTR station, offers a full suite of resort and business facilities.
More than 158 million people have visited Hong Kong’s premier park since its inception, and Ocean Park has remained committed to offering adults and children experiences that blend entertainment with education and conservation. Part of the proceeds from Ocean Park admission tickets and some retail items go to the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong, to support its wildlife conservation projects. Ocean Park was the 2012 recipient of the highly coveted and prestigious APPLAUSE AWARD, presented by Liseberg Amusement Park. Recognised by the attractions industry worldwide, the award is presented at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Attractions Expo every other year in honour of a theme park for its excellence in management, operations and creativity. Ocean Park was the first theme park in Asia to win this international award since its inception in 1980.
Ocean Park – Giving Back to the Community
As the Hong Kong people’s park, Ocean Park has launched various community initiatives to enable Hong Kong people from all walks of life to enjoy the Park’s offerings. These initiatives include: 1) concessionary admission for Hong Kong residents on their birthday, for Hong Kong residents aged 65 years and above, and for holders of the Registration Card for People with Disabilities; and 2) sponsored admission for individuals and members of families receiving assistance from the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme (CSSA), and Social Welfare Department member organisations. The Park also gives donations-in-kind to charitable organisations, offers special rates for school tours, and spearheads many other community caring projects. During the 2019/20 fiscal year, Ocean Park maintained a total of 18 social care programmes, with more than 312,000 beneficiaries and an aggregate value to the community equivalent to over HK$147.1 million.
About The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Founded in 1963, CUHK is a leading comprehensive research university with a global reputation. Located in the heart of Asia, CUHK has a vision and a mission to combine tradition with modernity, and to bring together China and the West. Under the University’s unique collegiate system, the programmes and activities offered by its nine colleges complement the formal curricula by delivering whole-person education and pastoral care. The University has eight faculties: Arts, Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Law, Medicine, Science, and Social Science. Together with the Graduate School, the University offers over 300 undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. All faculties are actively engaged in research in a wide range of disciplines, with an array of research institutes and research centres specialising in interdisciplinary research of the highest quality.
CUHK was recognised as the most innovative university in Hong Kong for the fourth consecutive year and was ranked 26th in the Asia-Pacific region by Reuters in its latest “Asia Pacific Region’s Most Innovative Universities” list. The University has been granted more than 1,000 patents from different jurisdictions worldwide. Some of these patents have been licensed to organizations in related industries to help bring these innovations to the market to benefit society. In the 2019/20 academic year, CUHK was granted 257 patents and filed 386 patent applications for inventions developed in the areas of medical technology, biotechnology, information technology, telecommunications, and materials science.