CUHK Jockey Club Initiative Gaia Holds the ‘AQHI: A New Approach to Public Health Protection’ Forum
CUHK Jockey Club Initiative Gaia (Gaia) held a forum entitled ‘AQHI: A New Approach to Public Health Protection’ at the Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs Association of Hong Kong in Wanchai today (30 January). The forum as a part of the Environment and Climate Change Forum Series, gathered experts from different backgrounds to share knowledge and insights into the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) system. More than 80 participants from public and private sectors, local schools and tertiary institutions attended the event.
Mr Dave Ho, Principal Environmental Protection Officer (Air Policy) of Environmental Protection Department (EPD), was the keynote speaker. Other guest speakers included Mr Angus Wong, Policy Advocacy Manager of World Green Organisation, and Prof. Ignatius Yu, Honorary Clinical Professor of the Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). The forum was chaired by Prof. Kin-che Lam, Adjunct Professor of the Department of Geography and Resource Management at CUHK.
Mr Ho said that the previous Air Pollution Index system, originated from the US, was not able to reflect the combined effects of different air pollutants and did not address concerns about health risks posed by air pollution. EPD invited in 2008 experts from CUHK and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to research on the topic and make recommendations for improvement. EPD subsequently accepted the expert team’s recommendation and launched in 2013 the AQHI system. The new system enables reporting of air quality in a timely manner, informs the public of potential health risks from exposure to different levels of air pollution, and gives advice for them to take precautionary actions to protect their health. When asked why air pollution is more serious in such areas as Yuen Long, Tuen Mun and Tung Chung, Mr Ho responded by saying that these areas, situated in the northwestern part of Hong Kong, are more vulnerable to the air pollutants from Guangdong as well as Hong Kong. The HKSAR government will continue to cooperate with the Guangdong government to improve the regional air quality. At the local level, new policies, such as upgrading the diesel standard for vessels, will be introduced.
During the Question and Answer session, participants raised questions about the AQHI system, and had a fruitful discussion with the speakers.
CUHK Jockey Club Initiative Gaia
CUHK Jockey Club Initiative Gaia is a 5-year community engagement programme launched in 2012 by CUHK, with a generous donation of HK$70 million by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. Committed to paving a sustainable future for Hong Kong, the programme aims at promoting environmental conservation and sustainability in local communities, through public education and carbon reduction partnerships with schools and non-governmental organizations.
In order to draw on collective wisdom and to encourage active public participation in tackling various environmental issues, CUHK Jockey Club Initiative Gaia has organized the ‘Environment and Climate Change Forum Series’ to invite experts and practitioners from different fields, as well as members of the public to look into different perspectives of environmental challenges and impacts of climate change, and to develop possible solutions.
The Jockey Club Museum of Climate Change (MoCC) maintained by Gaia is open for free to the public. The MoCC showcases the ‘Three Poles’ (the North Pole, the South Pole and Mount Everest) collection of the renowned Hong Kong explorer Dr Rebecca Lee, innovative research in environment, energy and sustainability initiated by CUHK, and the Jockey Club’s initiatives that promote green living in the community.
More details of the CUHK Jockey Club Initiative Gaia can be found at www.cuhk.edu.hk/gaia.