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Background Information

Currently almost half the world’s population lives in urban areas and is already responsible for the emissions of 80% of all greenhouse gases.  Asia plays a pivotal role, as growth rates in the region are uniquely rapid.  In the next 30 years, another one billion people will become urbanized, and Asia will be home to 21 of the predicted 37 global mega cities.  Each of China’s mega cities will have population sizes equivalent to some countries - for example, Greater Beijing’s population will equal that of Australia.

Can we cope with this dynamic in a sustainable way?  The 2015 Hong Kong Symposium will discuss innovative approaches, from technical solutions and urban design, to policies and transformative visions and will address how transformation can be achieved in practice despite apparent path dependencies and huge socio-economic inertia.

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The first three successful Symposia were held in Europe in Potsdam (2007), London (2009) and Stockholm (2011).  Locating the 4th Symposium in Hong Kong highlights the importance of the region, which will be strongly affected by the risks of climate change and the resource demands of burgeoning populations.  Sustainable prosperity is the true challenge of our times, and the East Asia and Pacific region has a unique chance of becoming a center for change and a role model for creating a new generation of sustainable cities.

The series aims at elevating the debate on global sustainability to a new level of understanding and urgency, and supporting scientific research in finding solutions to these problems.  Each Symposium has brought together about a dozen Nobel Laureates from a whole range of fields.  They will discuss the issues that are crucial to our planet's - and humankind's - future with eminent scientific experts, policy makers and business leaders.  The transdisciplinary symposium relies on the superior judgement of some of the most renowned minds worldwide.  Nobel Laureates have been honoured for their cutting-edge research, yet they are also thinkers beyond their field of specialization.

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