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Official ENSURE signing ceremony

Collaborative ENSURE projects making good progress

This April will mark the second anniversary of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)-University of Exeter (Exeter) Joint Centre for Environmental Sustainability and Resilience (ENSURE) since its establishment in 2018. The joint centre has been fostering inter-disciplinary collaborations through projects and workshops to address issues emerging from the changing environment and its influences on human health and wellbeing.

Three collaborative projects have been funded by ENSURE (2019–2020) with a view to building capacity and strengthening international profile. Together they engage over 30 researchers in the fields of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Environmental Sciences, Medicine and Public Health, Law, Social Sciences, and Mathematics. These projects are:

  • Global Food Security, Climate Change and Resilience: An International Perspective’ led by Prof. LAM Hon-ming, Director of the State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology (CUHK), and Dr. Catherine Caine, Lecturer in the Law School at Exeter, to examine the inter-relationship between agricultural intensification, consumers’ diets/food choice, and human health with the aim of developing policies which will alleviate climate change and minimise environmental impacts.
  • Sustainability of Coastal Megalopolises in the Face of Global Environmental Change: China’s Greater Bay Area’ led by Prof. Joe Lee, Co-Director of ENSURE at CUHK, and Prof. Brendan Godley, Professor of Conservation Science in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at Exeter, to study the capacity of coastal ecosystems in the Greater Bay Area (GBA) to provide critical services that sustain human livelihood, health, and wellbeing with a view to developing a framework to inform development in other coastal mega-cities.
  • Transboundary Air Pollution in China and the UK: Intensity, Attribution and Impacts’ led by Prof. Steve Yim, Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Resource Management at CUHK and Prof. Jim Haywood, Professor of Atmospheric Science in the Department of Mathematics at Exeter, to gain a better understanding about emissions, chemical transformations, and deposition rates of air pollutants and the resultant population exposures and health impact.

All the three projects are making good progress towards achieving their respective aims. Under the ‘Global Food Security’ project, team members are preparing a review paper on the ‘indirect’ health cost of China’s historical dietary trend over the last 30 years and have conducted a survey in China, Japan, and Vietnam to test the resilience of consumers to changes in the food market. Coming up, a second survey will be undertaken in the UK and Hong Kong (or Southeast Asia) to assess the viability of different policy options that could be adopted to mitigate climate change challenges induced by agricultural intensification.

In the ‘Sustainability of Coastal Megalopolises’ project, initial activities have focused on acquiring massive datasets to analyse the relationship between land use changes (wetland loss and urbanisation) and water quality and other key ecosystem services (e.g. fisheries and migratory bird conservation) in Hong Kong, and conducting archival research and literature review to identify data gaps in biodiversity and conservation research in the region. Moving ahead, the project plans to extend a similar study to GBA around the Pearl river estuary.

In the ‘Transboundary Air Pollution’ project, drone and lidar instrumentation have been deployed to collect ground level and vertical information of aerosol and meteorological conditions in Hong Kong, mainland China, and the UK. Two papers related to the data collection and measurement/modelling works were published by the team members and two more papers are forthcoming. Utilising the datasets, the team will perform a model simulation to understand the role of meteorological factors in long-term air quality and air pollution episode events and evaluate the implication of transboundary air pollution on public health.

ENSURE has recently announced a second call for funding with a view to supporting up to two high impact, inter-disciplinary projects. The closing date is 25 May 2020. To learn more and register interest, please contact Ms. Corliss Tsui at the Institute of Environment, Energy, and Sustainability, CUHK (iees@cuhk.edu.hk) or Dr. Emma Clarke of the Global Partnerships team at the University of Exeter (E.V.F.Clarke@exeter.ac.uk).

Date: 1 May 2020

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