By Prof. Wei Shyy, President of HKUST
The massive social and economic disruptions caused by the recent pandemic, along with international disagreements, have shown that changes can happen at an unprecedented speed that induce unpredictable situations and fundamentally transformative conditions.
The new normal is placing increasing pressure on higher education institutions to accelerate discovery and innovation in the interest of society, especially in the global mission of building a sustainable future. The issues on hand demand that we consider and adopt fundamental changes across all sectors in the way we operate. We must focus on the availability of and access to resources, wealth distribution, and equity among regions and societies.
Leading universities around the world are committed to meeting the net-zero carbon goal by 2050, if not earlier. In order to achieve such a serious goal, we have to not only develop solutions that are scalable and life-cycle-oriented, but also consider vast differences in the stage of economic development and local natural conditions between regions and countries.
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) promotes curiosity-driven and mission-encouraged teaching and research, under a cross-disciplinary framework to connect students, researchers, businesses, industries and governments and to motivate them to act collaboratively in addressing these challenges facing humanity.
More than 30 university-funded projects have been developed by HKUST members under the “Sustainable Smart Campus as a Living Lab” initiative. These projects include developing self-cleaning nanocoatings to improve photovoltaic panel efficiencies, autonomous greywater treatment, water leakage detection technologies, and digital twins of all campus buildings for streamlined operations and planning.
Hong Kong faces both global and local issues. With its deep and rich international history, meaningful responses to sustainability need to be developed based on open, collaborative and original ideas. Universities are at their best when they engage stakeholders across the spectrum for collaboration and partnership, empower and enable future leaders, foster novel ideas, innovations and practices. HKUST will work with our global partners to fulfill our missions and societal responsibilities.