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SDG11 Sustainable Cities and Communities

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable

Photo Credit: Project Ha Giang 2019



Preserve endangered language in Nepal

Dr Cathryn Donohue from the Department of Linguistics has been working on the preservation of Nubri, a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in the Nubri Valley. The language has become endangered as most younger generations move out of the valley for schooling, resulting in a huge decline in the use of the language. 

To protect the language, Dr Donohue investigated language maintenance efforts such as introducing the Nubri writing system so that the language can be used in more domains. However, these efforts required the participation of the whole community, which was difficult as the community, mainly subsistence farmers, did not have spare time to discuss orthographic proposals.

Dr Donohue tackled this issue by addressing another dire need in Nubri – eyecare, which is important for subsistence farmers. A team of ophthalmologists were flown to the valley to provide free eye clinics for the villagers, they even conducted cataract surgeries for 64 villagers to improve their eyesight. Apart from providing medical treatments, the eye clinic project also created an opportunity for the community gathering to discuss orthographic options and to record some of Nubri’s traditional medicinal practices, which hopefully would lead to the development of a community-endorsed writing system that preserves Nubri.

Key Data

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Engagement and Outreach

HSBC Rural Sustainability Programme

The HSBC Rural Sustainability Programme continues to promote sustainable development and rural area protection in Hong Kong and incubate socio-economic models and rural start-ups for rural revitalisation, developing rural education programmes for the community and compiling a comprehensive sustainability assessment framework to measure outcomes of sustainability projects.


By incorporating nature and cultural heritage with entrepreneurship in developing urban-rural sustainability agendas, the project has gained international recognition by receiving the Special Recognition for Sustainable Development in the 2020 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.


Social Innovations for Sustainable Communities

Joining hands with the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC), our Social and Entrepreneurship and Civic Action Lab of the Centre for Civil Society and Governance (SECAL-CCSG) has launched the Social Innovations for Sustainable Communities Programme to foster a culture of social innovation in the Hong Kong community. The programme aims to nurture the corps of intergenerational “sustainability catalysers” that will address sustainability challenges through crowdsourcing ideas and actions.

Teaching, Learning and Students Activities

Courses and programmes

We provide courses and programmes for students to learn about the methods of building sustainable communities and cities from various aspects. Our Master of Urban Design focuses on the design of the built environments for an urban era of climate, economic, health and cohesion challenges. On the other hand, our Master of Science in Conservation examines the policy, assessment, management, and construction-based technical aspects of built heritage conservation.

Cultural Exchange Program Beyond a Dining Table

Eat To-Gather is a cultural exchange programme that promotes the Chinese family meal culture, non-local students will be paired up with local students and local host families to have family meals and gatherings. The objective of this programme is to encourage non-local to explore the social and cultural differences in family meals as well as helping them to adapt to the lifestyle in Hong Kong.



HKU possess a rich collection of assets that promotes and protects cultural and ecological heritage:

Stephen Hui Geological Museum

Stephen Hui Geological Museum is the only geological museum in Hong Kong. Established in 2009, the museum strives to educate the visitors on nature and evolution, and the appreciation of the dynamic natural world of Earth Sciences. The museum now showcases over 1600 authentic specimens of minerals, rocks and fossils in thematic exhibitions on Dynamic Earth, Earth Evolution, Earth Materials and the Geologic History of Hong Kong.

University Museum and Art Gallery

Founded in 1953, the University Museum and Art Gallery (UMAG) is the oldest continuously operated museum in Hong Kong. UMAG is dedicated to educating HKU students and the public through art-historical research and teaching, by displaying and interpreting its permanent collection and hosting temporary exhibitions. The museum has built a wide variety of collections of bronzes, ceramics, paintings, calligraphy, photographs, sculptures, and wood carvings. The collections dated from the Neolithic period (c. 7000–c. 2100 BCE) to the Qing dynasty (1644–1911).

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