VIP Dinner Welcome Address: Prof. Rocky Tuan, Vice-Chancellor & President, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
(Welcome address transcript)
Mr Adrian Lee (Senior Vice President, Audience Growth, South China Morning Post), Ms. Tammy Tam (Editor in Chief South China Morning Post), distinguished guests, colleagues and friends, ladies and gentlemen,
Good evening. On behalf of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, I would like to warmly welcome you to this dinner in celebration of the Climate Change Hong Kong Summit organised by South China Morning Post, which will take place tomorrow and on Friday. As the first university in Hong Kong to make a carbon neutral pledge, CUHK is delighted to sponsor this highly meaningful event, which serves as an ideal platform to bring together policy-makers, science experts, sustainability advocates, industry leaders and academia to form a common understanding on the roadmap for our city to achieve carbon neutrality, and to define our role in global climate response.
We may come from different backgrounds or belong to different sectors of the society, but we share the same goal – to solve the potentially existential crisis of climate change. The climate crisis is not just an environmental issue, but one that if unaddressed will lead to existential challenges that will spark conflict, increase poverty, create famine and exacerbate inequality. The Glasgow Climate Pact reached at the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) reaffirmed the need to limit the rise of global average temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. At this critical juncture, as residents of planet earth, we must adopt the right policies, put in place the necessary infrastructure, and make far-reaching lifestyle and behavioural changes in order to stem the tide of climate change before it is too late.
Being centers of knowledge creation transfer and translation, universities must play a key role in initiating climate action. Our Strategic Plan CUHK 2021-25 aspires to achieve ‘excellence with purpose and responsibility’ as stated in the tagline, CUHK plays a leadership role in Hong Kong’s battle against climate change. As the co-host of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Hong Kong Chapter, we aim to promote sustainable development by engaging wider audiences from diverse backgrounds to tackle climate change, as well as to address the other 16 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In December 2013, we founded the CUHK Jockey Club Museum of Climate Change (MoCC) with the initial sponsorship by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. It is the first museum in the world dedicated to climate change where visitors from all walks of life can learn about climate change and its impact, and the latest developments in environmental conservation and sustainability. To nurture students as sustainability leaders, we launched the MoCC Ambassadorship to train CUHK undergraduate students to communicate the knowledge and the importance of climate change effectively to members of the public. We have trained more than 800 student ambassadors, who have served around 375,000 visitors, and a few of our student ambassadors will have the opportunity to meet you at the Summit this week. To kick off your Summit, we had the pleasure of arranging a guided tour of the Museum for you earlier this evening. I hope that you have all enjoyed the tour and can appreciate the meaningful work of the Museum in championing thought leadership on climate change. The Museum’s future depends on charitable donations. We very much hope to have your support on its wide range of exhibitions and education and outreach projects to make a greater impact on the community.
As an old saying goes, ‘We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children’, we must take collective responsibility to protect our future generations. Your presence here tonight means you are all doing something substantial to respond to climate change. In fact, to further enhance your participation in this important endeavour, we have taken the liberty of spending the money that we would usually have spent on producing event gift bags for our guests, on purchasing carbon offsets. We believe even the smallest acts can make a big climate impact if everyone works together. In other words, let’s all practice “random acts of kindness” to mother earth!
For the next two days, you will have plenty of opportunities to discuss solutions to climate change, a problem that has been described as the Mount Everest of all problems. I trust that you will benefit a lot from the Summit. May I wish you all a very fruitful event and an enjoyable evening. Thank you.
(Copyright of The Chinese University of Hong Kong)