HKU ELSS 2014/15 inauguration

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12 February 2015 / Congratulations to the new cabinet of the 2014/15 Environmental Life Science Society of the University of Hong Kong (ELSS)!

ELSS are a society of first year students majoring in Ecology & Biodiversity at HKU with the mission to promote the study of environmental life science and to raise students’ concern on ecological and environmental issues.

Back in 2013 we met representatives of ELSS 2013/14 through the consultation to draft Hong Kong’s first Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (BSAP), and were able to support them to organise a hands on (ie wet, messy, but fun) intertidal ecology workshop at Tai Tam for Secondary students.

Prof. Yvonne Sadovy of HKU’s School of Biological Sciences gave one of the speeches at the event. She noted that Hong Kong is an urban society and joins more than 50% of the world’s population which now lives in cities, but that there is often a disconnect between urban city dwellers and nature.

According to a recent survey, half of Hong Kong children had never walked barefoot on grass, and that in her field courses to Starfish Bay students regularly showed up wearing high-heeled shoes. And yet students still choose to study biological sciences…

She asked us to think about the balance between development and biodiversity conservation, because isn’t that ultimately a question of quality of life?

Prof. Sadovy said there were three ways of changing: you have to know, you have to care, and then to change your behaviour. Her three wishes for the ELSS Embracers were: 1) talk to schools and show your passion; 2) reach out to the university first year students; and 3) be demanding consumers‎ and make good choices for sustainability, write letters to push for a difference as this works- just look at the ivory campaign on Facebook.

We were also struck by the speech by Roy Cheung, ELSS Chairman 2013/14 who unfortunately couldn’t attend on the day. He said to “do what you can, with what you have, where you are” and that knowledge is power and then we should act on it- don’t just leave comments on Facebook!

Thanks Embracers for the fantastic event (and thoughtful gift!) and we look forward to working together to “speak up for nature”!

Highly recommend their Inauguration Video.