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SDG11 Sustainable Cities and Communities

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Photo from Vivifying Lai Chi Wo: Sustainable Lai Chi Wo Programme Four Year Review and Outlook | Photo Credit: Policy for Sustainability Lab, Centre for Civil Society and Governance, Faculty of Social Sciences, HKU


Urbanisation enables people living in cities to advance socially and economically. Yet, modernised cities are now facing urban challenges such as congestion, shortage of adequate housing, declining infrastructure and pollution. HKU Centre for Civil Society and Governance’s Policy for Sustainability Lab is currently collaborating with private and public sectors on a series of projects to promote sustainable urbanism in Hong Kong. On the other hand, HKU is nurturing future urban planners with a sustainability mindset through the Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies program, which takes a multi-disciplinary and problem-solving approach to look at urban planning issues.

Teaching & Research

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Building on its success, the Sustainable Lai Chi Wo project expanded in 2017 to become HSBC Rural Sustainability and continues to advocate for sustainable development and protection of the rural areas of highly urbanized Hong Kong. The project was recognized in the Hong Kong Chief Executive's 2017 policy address where the Lai Chi Wo model was proposed as an exemplar to revitalize other rural villages in Hong Kong. The program was also acknowledged on a global scale when it was selected by the UNDP’s Equator Initiative as an outstanding example of rural sustainable development. In 2018, the program developed a new initiative, the Academy for Sustainable Communities, which aims to be a regional knowledge exchange platform for sustainability. They provide courses, field trips, and seminars in order to disseminate this knowledge to a variety of different stakeholders. 

The Department of Urban Planning and Design has developed a new way to analyze 3D maps that allows Hong Kong to better plan pedestrian routes. The team’s Spatial Design Network Analysis (sDNA) software allows urban planners and policymakers to take human decision making into consideration when planning walking paths. The Lands Department of the Hong Kong Government is already putting sDNA to use in developing the city’s waterfront masterplan. Furthermore, the software can identify ways of encouraging walking which will help promote healthier and more livable cities.


HKU’s long history means the campus is home to a large number of heritage buildings that the University works to preserve and protect. In 2018 three buildings, namely Fung Ping Shan Building, Eliot Hall and May Hall, were approved to be listed as declared monuments by the Hong Kong Antiquities Advisory Board, bringing the total number to seven. This declaration legally protects the buildings and helps HKU to continue to safeguard this beautiful architecture for generations to come.

Eliot Hall
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