The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) hosted the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) Undergraduate Leaders’ Programme (The Programme) from 25 June to 6 July 2023. The Programme, themed “Leadership for Sustainable Cities Development”, was part of the University’s 60th anniversary celebration events and brought together a diverse group of 55 undergraduate students from 31 APRU member universities in 15 countries and regions in North and South America, Asia and Australasia. The event was co-organised by the Urban Studies Programme, School of Architecture, Hong Kong Social Enterprise Challenge and Office of Academic Links at CUHK.
The Programme aims to empower young leaders to become changemakers in pursuit of building sustainable, safe, resilient, and inclusive cities in response to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. It covered five sub-themes: energy sustainability; environmental, social and governance; green transport; smart, green and resilient communities; and waste and resource management.
Professor Ng Mee-kam, Programme Director of the Urban Studies Programme; Professor Hendrik Tieben, Director of the School of Architecture; and Dr Elsie Tsui, Project Director of the Hong Kong Social Enterprise Challenge, with two overseas scholars from APRU member universities, Dr Mohsen Mohammadzadeh from the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Auckland; and Professor Yang Yizhao from the School of Planning, Public Policy and Management at the University of Oregon, gave lectures and led workshops and discussions on urban design during the Programme.
Other local industry experts and leaders from NGOs also conducted a series of talks and workshops to equip students with a holistic understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing cities today, using case studies from Hong Kong and around the world. They included Mr Wong Kam-sing, GBS, JP, Former Secretary for the Environment in the HKSAR Government; Mr Leo Chan, Founder and CEO of Leader Radio Technologies Ltd; Mr Alok Jain, CEO and Managing Director of Trans-Consult Ltd; Mr Warren Luk, CEO of Good Lab; Mr Hendrik Rosenthal, Director – Group Sustainability of CLP Holdings Ltd; Ms Fiona Sykes, Resource Management Consultant of Arup Hong Kong; and Mr Harold Yip, Co-founder of Mil Mill.
Classroom learning was supplemented with field trips during the Programme. Students were brought to the Heritage of Mei Ho House, MTR Corporation Ltd, Swire Coca-Cola HK Ltd, the Hong Kong and China Gas Company Limited, T-Park and Viva Blue House to allow them to gain a deeper understanding of sustainable development practices in action.
The Programme concluded with a group project competition in which students showcased their innovative solutions to sustainable city development by applying design thinking principles. A team led by Mr Thuta Ye Moe, a student from Yonsei University in South Korea, won the competition with its SkyBike proposal to build elevated bike lanes for local short-distance commuters, providing healthy and environmentally friendly transport in Hong Kong. The judges were very impressed with the team’s creativity and innovation in promoting green transport in urban areas.
Mr Thuta Ye Moe said, “The Programme has been a remarkable opportunity for leadership development and collaboration. The lectures and field trips have provided insight into green transport infrastructure, integration of technologies, energy efficiency measures and sustainability policies in Hong Kong. The Programme has encouraged each of us to engage in our communities and make a positive difference with passion.”
At the closing ceremony, CUHK Provost Professor Alan Chan met with the participating students. He said, “In the face of unprecedented global challenges, it is critical that we come together to collaborate and find solutions. CUHK is pleased to host the APRU Undergraduate Leaders’ Programme to facilitate collaboration across borders and provide opportunities for young leaders to address important issues related to sustainability, which is ever more pressing in a time of climate crisis.”
About the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU)
APRU is a network of 60 leading universities that brings together thought leaders, researchers and policymakers to exchange ideas and collaborate on effective solutions to the challenges of the 21st century. CUHK has been a member of APRU since 2017. One of APRU’s initiatives is the Undergraduate Leaders’ Programme, which is hosted by member institutions to support emerging undergraduate leaders in becoming real-world changemakers by driving awareness, action, and change, supporting them in their academic and personal goals. By providing cultural exchange experiences and unique learning opportunities, the Programme seeks to equip the next generation of leaders with the skills they need to contribute to positive change for the betterment of societies worldwide.