CUHK joins UNEP’s Nature Positive Universities Alliance and commits to reducing its environmental impact
The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has joined the Nature Positive Universities Alliance as a founding university. The Alliance was announced at the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) on 8 December by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the University of Oxford, as part of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. CUHK and over 110 universities from more than 45 countries, including the University of Cambridge, University of California and University of Sydney, have taken an official pledge and begun assessing their environmental impact, in order to take tailored action to restore ecosystems and biodiversity, and achieve sustainable development.
CUHK Vice-Chancellor Professor Rocky S. Tuan was delighted to sign the pledge. He said, “Joining the Nature Positive Universities Alliance is one of our commitments to sustainable development, and aligns with the goals of CUHK Strategic Plan 2021–2025. Last year, our per-capita carbon emissions, compared to the baseline level in 2005, dropped by over 40%, exceeding the 20% reduction target by 2025. We are also devoted to achieving the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. As part of this alliance, we pledge to monitor and reduce our ecological footprint, to fight global climate change and conserve nature.”
CUHK has been actively managing and restoring the campus’s terrestrial ecosystems. Nowadays, more than 60% of the campus is covered in planted vegetation. The School of Life Sciences’ Shiu-Ying Hu Herbarium regularly documents campus plants and has developed plant-related virtual reality education and the Virtual Carpological Herbarium to enhance appreciation, survey and conservation. The Herbal Garden is another important resource, preserving native medicinal plants for research and education. For marine conservation, a research team from the Coral Academy has been monitoring coral habitats and restoring coral by planting fragments and juvenile corals in Tolo Channel. In addition, CUHK has carried out many other studies on conservation and environmental protection.
CUHK was also the first university in Hong Kong to set a target to go carbon neutral, by 2038. This commitment is underpinned by the University’s responsible culture, which translates into actions to significantly lower its carbon and ecological footprints, such as promoting electric vehicles and implementing the Green Office Programme (GO!) and the Energy Conservation Incentive Scheme. CUHK prioritises nature when tackling its own supply chains and operational impact, and continues to influence the wider community by promoting environmental awareness through its outreach programmes.