Putting people and planet first

Michelle Leung


City University of Hong Kong (CityU) is taking the lead locally to encourage staff and students to show their care for people and the planet by setting up a University Charter of Social Responsibility .


The charter will promote the urgent need to assess the impact of all our activities on the environment and society.


CityU is the first local tertiary institution, and one of the few in the international higher education sector, to position social responsibility at the top of its agenda.


The drive has been initiated by the Hon Leung Chun-ying, Council Chairman. He launched a University Social Responsibility Committee last year to promote the concept.


University social responsibility is derived from corporate social responsibility, Mr Leung explained, adding that whereas the latter emphasises the two additional Ps—planet and people—in addition to profit, a non-profit making university should focus simply on the 2Ps, protecting our planet and caring for people.


“The primary function of a university is the provision of education through teaching and nurturing. Students should not only learn practical skills, but also personal skills to care for people and the planet in an appropriate way,” Mr Leung said.


“We hope to instill the concept among our students and help them become responsible citizens. After graduation, they can apply their knowledge to promote social responsibility themselves and contribute to the advancement of society,” Mr Leung continued.


Mr Leung believed a significant contribution to social responsibility and environmental protection can be achieved if each member of the 30,000-strong CityU campus community is more aware of what social responsibility entails.


One recent example of this commitment was seen at the CityU Banquet last October. More than 100 tables responded to a call to reduce the number of dishes from the usual eight to six during the dinner. This event inspired a university-wide campaign in March to reinforce the idea of reducing and properly managing food waste on campus.


“As well as promoting the concept, we are collaborating with other organisations to convert food waste into fish feed. This can help relieve the pressure on landfill sites and contribute to a better environment. Our ultimate goal is to eliminate all food waste on campus,” Mr Leung said.


Another example of this new drive is reasonable remuneration and work hours for low-income staff directly or indirectly employed by the University. The government has introduced a minimum wage recently but before the enactment of the legislation, CityU had already taken appropriate action and established its own wage levels for those concerned.


CityU is also promoting the practice of “reduce, reuse, recycle, repair and replace”, implementing a series of measures to save water and energy to build a greener campus and provide a more friendly work and study environment.


“I believe everyone at CityU will find their way to do a bit more for other people and the planet. I hope more people in Hong Kong can join us to promote and practise social responsibility,” Mr Leung said.


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