Country for PR: China
Contributor: Xinhua News Agency
Tuesday, November 29 2022 - 23:22
AsiaNet
"Cambridge of the East" shines: Global-minded Zhejiang University plays a growing role in pushing SDGs
HANGZHOU, China, Nov. 29, 2022 /Xinhua-AsiaNet/--

The Sixteenth General Conference of The World Academy of Sciences for the 
advancement of science in developing countries (TWAS) was held in a hybrid 
format from November 21 to 24.

Hundreds of scientists -- including TWAS fellows, TWAS Young Affiliates and 
Alumni, ministers of science and technology, and dignitaries from all over the 
world -- gathered in an online and offline meeting in Hangzhou, the capital of 
China's eastern coastal province of Zhejiang. 

In the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development set by 
the United Nations, they discussed how to leverage basic sciences to promote 
evidence-based decision-making and sustainable development in developing 
countries. 

The offline event was held at one of China's most desirable universities, 
Zhejiang University (ZJU), which renowned British scientist Dr. Joseph Needham 
hailed as "Cambridge of the East".

The reason why this Chinese institution of higher learning is entitled to host 
such a heavyweight international conference is not only because of its 125-year 
history and academic heritage, but also because of its long-standing commitment 
to social responsibility and global commitment as an important starting point 
and goal of talent cultivation, scientific research and social service.

As a leading comprehensive research university, ZJU's research achievements in 
many basic science fields contribute to the realization of the UN 2030 
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In the medical field, the world's first human cell landscape at single-cell 
level was born in ZJU in 2020, whose research method will have a profound 
impact on the identification of normal and disease cell states in the human 
body, and is expected to help doctors identify abnormal cell states and origins 
in the future.

Ye Ming'er, associate professor of horticulture at ZJU, has been named "Food 
Hero" by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations for his 
constant efforts in promoting fruit tree technology for over 30 years. His 
innovative approach has boosted growth and yield of several fruits, increasing 
farmers' income as well as protecting natural resources.

"We have also built a healthy eco-environment at the orchard, where sheep feed 
on grass and its dung is in turn used as fertilizers for fruit trees, thus 
protecting the environment and ensuring the food safety," said Ye. 

In helping coping with climate change, China's first artificial upwelling 
demonstration project, led by ZJU and completed with other domestic peers, is 
capable of boosting phytoplankton and algae yield, restoring the marine 
ecological environment, and enhancing marine carbon sinks. It has been listed 
as a marine carbon sink program by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate 
Change.

The list goes on. In recent years, ZJU has integrated the UN 2030 Agenda for 
Sustainable Development into all aspects of its development, focusing on 
cultivating students' sustainable development competence, enriching academic 
ecology, strengthening interdisciplinary research, and promoting global 
coordination and cooperation.

In March 2021, ZJU launched the Global ZJU for Social Good (Z4G) to integrate 
the university's own development into the global agenda, contribute its part to 
the implementation of the UN SDGs in China, and help build a Chinese model of 
sustainable development.

After the release of the Z4G, ZJU held a series of activities to walk its talk. 
At the end of that month, ZJU, together with more than 50 leading universities 
in the world including Harvard University, issued the Joint Statement of Global 
University Leaders on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This is the 
first global initiative for sustainable development initiated by a Chinese 
university.

In April this year, ZJU, together with three overseas universities, jointly 
held the first Asia-Pacific Carbon Neutrality Symposium online, featuring 
robust discussions on carbon capture, utilization and sequestration, 
sustainable energy, and sustainable city and construction. The online meeting 
played a role in promoting cross-institutional knowledge sharing in the 
Asia-Pacific region and solutions to major global challenges.

Four months later, ZJU joined hands with its global partners to launch the SDG 
Global Summer School, which attracted nearly 1,000 outstanding students from 
more than 80 countries and regions around the world to participate online.

They exchanged views with top scholars at home and abroad. Discussions were 
conducted over such issues as post-COVID-19 urban governance and building a 
safe and sustainable food supply chain, contributing their parts to a better 
future for the world.

Stephanie Ann, a summer school participant from Singapore, spoke highly of the 
Carbon Neutrality module. "The holistic approach to climate change is what 
makes the ZJU SDG Summer School very insightful. The lecturers, assignments and 
group tasks not only allow us to apply the knowledge we have learnt, but also 
propel us to ponder and explore the topics on our own."

At the TWAS 16th General Conference, Hangzhou Declaration was unveiled in 
addition to the pooling of ideas and solutions on SDGs and basic sciences. The 
declaration calls on all stakeholders to join hands, uphold the concept of open 
science, strengthen South-South and North-South cooperation, and work together 
to open up new prospects for global basic sciences development.

"In the future, we look forward to working with you to advocate for inclusive 
and green development, enhance basic sciences and multidisciplinary research, 
nurture top-notch innovative talent in basic sciences and further deepen 
international engagement," said Ren Shaobo, Chairman of the University Council 
of ZJU, at the opening ceremony of the Conference.

"Thus, we are hoping to scale up higher education's distinctive contributions 
to the common development of mankind and the lasting prosperity of our 
society," Ren added.

Source: Zhejiang University

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   Caption: Opening ceremony of the TWAS 16th General Conference

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   Caption: ZJU working on 17 SDGs