CUHK and Jockey Club join hands to build sustainable future for Hong KongCUHK Jockey Club Initiative Gaia launched to engage local communities
The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) today (3 January) jointly announced the launch of the CUHK Jockey Club Initiative Gaia (Gaia), as the first celebratory event for the 50th anniversary of CUHK, to promote environmental conservation and sustainability in local communities, through public education and carbon reduction partnerships with schools and non-governmental organizations. Today also marked the opening of the Trust-funded Conference on the Forty Years of Environmental Protection in China, at which renowned environmental experts reviewed China’s accomplishment in environmental protection work and shared insights on the way forward.
Mr WONG Kam Sing, Secretary for the Environment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government; Dr Rita FAN HSU Lai Tai, Steward of The Hong Kong Jockey Club; Professor Joseph J Y SUNG, Vice-Chancellor and President of CUHK; Professor QU Geping, Former Minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration of the People’s Republic of China; Professor HAO Jiming, Director of the Institute of Environmental Science and Engineering, Tsinghua University (representing Professor CHEN Jining, President of Tsinghua University); and Professor WANG Jinnan, Chairman of the Professional Association for China’s Environment and Vice President of Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning, officiated at the ceremony.
What is Gaia?
CUHK Jockey Club Initiative Gaia is a 5-year community engagement programme organized by CUHK with a generous donation of HK$54 million from the HKJC Charities Trust. Professor Sung said, ‘The Chinese University is most grateful for the generous donation by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust to this meaningful cause. Climatic change is not a remote issue. Every one of us living in Hong Kong should “Think Global. Act Local”. Combining the innovative research in environment, energy and sustainability by CUHK experts and the Trust’s various endeavours to protect the environment, I believe we can make a difference for the future of Hong Kong.’
Dr Fan said the University was well qualified to undertake the programme, having already developed successful research and education programmes in environmental protection. As part of the Environment Project, the CUHK Jockey Club Initiative Gaia will disseminate those research results and green knowledge to the public through different channels, helping to enhance the city’s sustainability in line with the government’s policy. She noted that the Club for many years not only advocated green corporate policies but also implemented many green measures in its daily operations and encouraged its 20,000 staff members to adopt environmentally-friendly practices.
HKJC considers environmental protection an issue of growing importance worldwide, and one in which the whole community needs to become involved. The Environment Project was launched in 2008 with HK$350 million funding from the HKJC Charities Trust, which aims at mitigating the effects of climate change on Hong Kong and minimizing the impact on health through informing and engaging the public. Gaia, as a component of the Environment Project, endeavours to help raise public awareness of environmental protection and sustainable development in Hong Kong, by informing and engaging stakeholders through international symposia, public forums, as well as public education programmes.
Three innovations pioneered by Gaia
Jockey Club Museum of Climate Change: The first of its kind in Hong Kong, the 800 m2 Jockey Club Museum of Climate Change (MoCC) is dedicated to, through interactive and multimedia means, inform the public on the latest developments and research in climate change, and to equip Hong Kong’s future generation with knowledge that enables their participation in debates and actions to combat climate change tactically and collectively. The museum will showcase the valuable ‘Three Poles’ collection (the North Pole, the South Pole and Mt Everest) of Dr Rebecca Lee, the renowned polar explorer and climate change researcher. ‘Seeing is believing.’ The innovative journey approach of MoCC takes the visitors to see it for themselves how the lives in the extreme climate zones are changing due to global warming. Scientific evidence such as remote-sensing satellite images also demonstrates that climate change is real and requires an urgent solution. The public will also learn more about CUHK’s innovative research in environment, energy and sustainability as well as HKJC Charities Trust’s environment projects.
Carbon reduction partnerships: The Go Green Community – Jockey Club Carbon Reduction Partnership Scheme aims at engaging local schools and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to reduce carbon emissions, through carbon auditing, environmental information and education, behavioural change, and physical retrofit if necessary. Climate change is a major environmental challenge in this century, and the most direct and effective measure to combat climate change is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Scheme is a timely initiative to reduce carbon emissions in Hong Kong. During the two-year pilot phase of the Scheme, the professional Go Green Team will conduct carbon audit for 10 NGOs and 30 schools, and provide each of them with a carbon audit report with tailor-made recommendations to put carbon emission reduction into practice.
Public education: A series of environmental conferences, public forums and educational fairs will be conducted to promote various initiatives to combat climate change. Conferences, forums and symposia are organized to provide a platform for productive and innovative collaboration and exchanges among scholars of different disciplines, green groups and practitioners in the green industry, on such issues as climate change, green energy, sustainable urban environment, public health and environmental policy. The first forum was held on 25 August 2012 at the Central Library. Mr Wong Kam Sing, Secretary for the Environment of the HKSAR Government, gave a speech entitled ‘Way Forward of Environmental Protection in Hong Kong’, which outlined the approach taken by the Government in advancing environmental protection. The annual Environment Fair in March 2013 is a carnival event that brings joy and green messages to the public, and connects the public with the CUHK Jockey Club Initiative Gaia. At the fair, sustainability initiatives will be showcased via different media, and pioneers in the environmental field such as Dr Rebecca Lee will share winning tips for green living.
Conference on the Forty Years of Environmental Protection in China
The Conference on the Forty Years of Environmental Protection in China was made possible through the generous support of HKJC Charities Trust.
The past four decades have seen tremendous social and economic growth in China, but a multitude of issues such as pollutions, ecological upsets and depletion of resources have also emerged, which China must address in order to sustain its forward momentum. As part of the CUHK Jockey Club Initiative Gaia, the Conference has gathered environmental experts to reflect and share knowledge, experiences and best practices in various aspects of environmental protection, including environmental policy and management, environmental pollution and control, as well as ecological health and urban environment.
Professor QU Geping, Former Minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration of the People’s Republic of China, was invited to give an opening address at the Conference. Known as the Father of Environmental Protection in China, Professor Qu is an influential pioneer in putting forward new measures in integrating economic growth and care to the environment. He was awarded the prestigious United Nations Sasakawa Prize at the United Nations Rio Earth Summit in Brazil in 1992, for his contributions to environmental protection that have set an excellent example for developing nations worldwide.
The Conference was co-organized by the Professional Association for China’s Environment, Tsinghua University, Peking University and the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning. International experts from the Netherlands, the US and Austria were also invited to inspire the audience with their international perspectives and experiences.
More details of the CUHK Jockey Club Initiative Gaia can be found at www.cuhk.edu.hk/gaia.