SDG2 Zero Hunger
Photo Credit: HKU Edible Spaces
Maintaining a sustainable global supply of safe and nutritious food is fundamental to alleviating hunger. HKU hosts various courses and initiatives to equip students with relevant knowledge and skills to achieve this goal. For undergraduate students, the Food: Technology, Trade and Culture course teaches about the needs of an effective global food supply chain. For postgraduate students, the MSc in the field of Food Safety and Toxicology helps students to learn about toxic pathogens, chemicals and food safety management.
HKU also spreads knowledge about sustainable food production to the wider Hong Kong community. The HSBC Rural Sustainability programme runs the Sustainable Agriculture course which explores how to achieve economically viable, environmentally sound and socially responsible agriculture. Along with basic theories, students explore local Hong Kong context through case studies and farm visits. This course helps increase appreciation for local agriculture and understanding of sustainable farming practices in the Hong Kong society.
Teaching & Research
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The Edible Spaces Initiative has continued to expand in terms of both space and participation. The Herb Garden, with its iconic permaculture herb spiral built with upcycled bamboo, was set up in 2018 by a team of students and permaculture practitioners. Additionally, several other farming projects were initiated at student residential halls and colleges and academic buildings. The rooftop farm also regularly hosts community days and harvest lunches so more people can visit and help out at the farm and share its produce. To promote and support local agriculture, the initiative hosted farmers’ markets and off-campus farm visits. In the past two years, over 1500 students and staff participated in Edible Spaces activities and experienced sustainable and innovative urban farming.
The Faculty of Engineering’s Engineering for Sustainability project runs international experiential learning projects for engineering students. In 2018, they held a course in Myanmar to look at sustainable urban farming. Engineering students from HKU worked with students from Dagon University (DU) in Yangon to explore the possible uses of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, cloud computing, and sensor technologies to improve urban farming. The joint project team deployed IoT devices on DU campus to monitor soil in order to eventually build a device that can be used by farmers. The project is a unique demonstration of collaboration and technology transfer between developed and developing regions in order to find solutions for the global food crisis.
In the 2017-18 school year the Sustainability Office, the CEDARS Catering Team, and the HKU Students' Union worked together to carry out a food waste audit of six of the major catering outlets on campus. The audit was a follow up to one hosted in 2013 and sought to compare results. The team found that an average of 62 kg of food was wasted every lunchtime on campus and 67% of that was noodles or rice. The audit showed a 30% improvement from 2013, which was largely due to reduced rice and noodle portions. This data shows that targeting the carbohydrates portion of meals to better suit eaters’ wants will further reduce food waste on campus.
In 2018, Sodexo took over the operation of nine of the campus catering outlets. Since then, they have implemented various sustainability initiatives to reduce energy, sustainably sourced ingredients, and reduce waste. They have used their LeanPath Tracking System to reduce pre-consumer food waste by 30% and they donate their coffee grounds to community gardens around Hong Kong to be used as fertilizer. They also source seasonal ingredients in order to support sustainable food production systems.