Joining forces in the fight against climate change
Taking truly effective climate action will require a high degree of global co-operation. That’s why CUHK has teamed up with the University of Exeter (Exeter) to create a joint inter-disciplinary research centre, the first of its kind in Hong Kong, which is now successfully driving high-impact breakthroughs in climate research.
Founded in 2018, the CUHK–University of Exeter Joint Centre for Environmental Sustainability and Resilience (ENSURE) aims to tackle emerging issues related to the changing environment and their effects on human health and wellbeing by developing large-scale collaborative projects that promote research excellence in a range of fields.
ENSURE draws on the complementary strengths of the two universities. CUHK boasts strong global connections, combined with a wealth of cross-disciplinary expertise in climate-related research. Exeter, a member of the UK’s elite Russell Group of research-intensive universities, is a leader in climate, health, and environmental research with longstanding collaborative links with the Met Office, the UK’s weather and climate research centre.
Prof. Joe Lee, Co-director of ENSURE, speaks at a joint workshop on environmental sustainability and resilience.
Shaping policy on globally pressing issues
Backed by a HK$20 million (US$2.5 million) start-up investment, ENSURE has already made substantial progress in a number of collaborative projects and engaged over 30 researchers in the fields of earth system science, economics, environment and energy, geography, law, life sciences, mathematics, public health, and public policy. Each research project has a clear policy impact rationale that supports progress towards the SDGs.
For example, governments around the world face the challenge of ensuring global food security while also alleviating climate change and minimising the environmental impact of agriculture. Using an integrated, cross-disciplinary approach, ENSURE’s research into the relationships between agricultural intensification, consumer diets and human health has shown how sustainable food production, consumption and trade can play an important role in mitigating regional air pollution and climate change. By demonstrating the links between air quality, rising food demand and more meat-intensive diets in different countries, it has also highlighted how the international food trade could be responsible for ‘exporting’ air pollution from one country to another.
ENSURE’s research shows how sustainable food production, consumption and trade can play an important role in mitigating regional air pollution and climate change.
Coastal urbanisation is one of the world’s most significant man-made environmental challenges, as the resulting loss of natural habitats and deterioration of water quality threaten the sustainability of coastal megacities. Analysing long-term environmental data from the Greater Bay Area in southern China, ENSURE’s research into the impact of urban development on tropical estuaries and the services they provide to coastal communities will help guide the sustainable management of these vital resources, and thus provides a framework for assessing the sustainability of megacities.
The study of the coastal ecosystems in the Greater Bay Area contributes to sustainability research of megacities. (Photo Credit: Prof. Joe Lee)
With a view to enhancing anti-pollution policies, the joint centre has also investigated transboundary air pollution in China and the UK to gain a better understanding of how extreme weather and climate change influence air pollution mechanisms.
CUHK and Exeter researchers work together to investigate transboundary air pollution in China and the UK.
Equipping future generations of problem-solvers
ENSURE’s projects have generated valuable knowledge, built research capacity and made significant impact on climate research to address sustainability challenges.
As a vibrant platform for facilitating international academic exchange, ENSURE will nurture the next generation of young researchers to find innovative solutions for sustaining a liveable environment and safeguarding human health and wellbeing.
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