The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) hosted the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) Undergraduate Leaders’ Program (The Program) from June 25 to July 6, 2023. The Program, 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-organized by the Urban Studies Program, School of Architecture, Hong Kong Social Enterprise Challenge and Office of Academic Links at CUHK.
The Program 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, Program Director of the Urban Studies Program; 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 Program.
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 Program. 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 Program 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 Program 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 Program 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’ Program 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.”