The New York Times-APRU Asia-Pacific Student Case Competition
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The New York Times and APRU Asia-Pacific Student Case Competition 2019

Global Health

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Students of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Secure First Place in The New York Times – APRU Asia-Pacific Student Case Competition 2019

HONG KONG, November 18, 2019—Cherie Hiu Yu Leung (Life Science, Ocean Science) and Veronica Qin Ting Li (MPhil, Public Policy) of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) have won The New York Times-APRU Asia-Pacific Student Case Competition. Their entry, entitled “Air Pollution in Hong Kong: A Market-Based Approach to Infrastructural Change” was published in the International Edition of The New York Times today, November 18, 2019. Upon receiving news of the award, the winners said, “We would like to thank the New York Times, the judging panel and the APRU for selecting us as the winners. This competition has been such a fun and educational project for us and we are thrilled to accept the win.”

Their policy brief included recommendations to:

  1. Increase market penetration of less polluting alternatives for shipping and road transport.
  2. Encourage urban greening.
  3. Impose an air pollution tax on the commercial industrial and transport sectors.
  4. Establish a cross-sector network on air pollution.

Candice Chan and Feifei Zhang of The University of British Columbia (UBC) are the first-runners up and Yi Ming Ng, Damon Lim and Lucy Kuo of Yale-NUS College are the second-runners up.

Candice Chan and Feifei Zhang of The University of British Columbia (UBC) are the first runners-up

Second Runner-up Team from Yale-NUS College, Yi Ming Ng

Second Runner-up Team from Yale-NUS College, Damon Lim and Lucy Kuo

The competition required students to write an 800-word policy brief for a political leader or public official in their economy outlining the threats to health from air pollution and to promote a solution that will be likely to make an impact. The challenge for the students was to evaluate the global health policy ecosystem in the Asia Pacific and its potential to address United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UNSDG) 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

Ms Chan and Ms Zhang from UBC were excited of learning of the news, “Thank you so much! This motivates us to take the next big step in tackling global health and environmental problems!”

The competition attracted entries from over 100 students from 26 universities in 14 economies. The winners have also received a trophy, a profiled article in a booklet of the Top 10 winning entries and The New York Times gifts.

We also thank the judges from the Times’ award-winning newsroom, Philip Traynor and Jim Hollander, and academic judges from the APRU network: Professor Keiji Fukuda MD, Director and Clinical Professor, Division of Community Medicine and Public Health Practice, The University of Hong Kong, and Professor Mellissa Withers, Program Director, APRU Global Health Program and Associate Professor of Clinical Preventive Medicine, Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California.

Mellissa Withers, APRU Global Health Program Director, highlighted the importance of the theme of the 2019 competition, global health. “Air pollution was on the World Health Organization’s 10 threats to health in 2019. Reducing the magnitude of this crisis will require creative, forward-thinking solutions. I was heartened to see so many excellent submissions and was impressed with the problem-solving and critical reflection that went into the proposals. The winning teams demonstrated a thorough understanding of the context and that they had considered the challenges to implementation of their proposals. They put forward well-defined, evidence-based solutions that could overcome these challenges. The practicality of many of the ideas described in this competition was impressive. This gave me hope that there are feasible solutions that could have a major impact on this crisis.”

When the third place winners were notified at Yale-NUS College they said, “We are elated that our novel policy proposal to price-in environmental costs into the market, the GreenProduct Tax, has been recognised by the New York Times and APRU. Air pollution is extremely relevant to Southeast Asia, which suffers from bad seasonal haze, and we learnt a lot about uncovering fundamental causes and challenging traditional governance assumptions. We believe that many global problems facing our generation are systemic, and that innovative public policy is key to addressing them. We see our work as exploring a future of sustainable capitalism, and hope to help actualise such progressive governance evolutions within our lifetimes. A huge thank you to APRU and NYT for providing this priceless platform for the new generation to engage the defining challenges of the century.”

Upon awarding the students, APRU Secretary General, Dr. Christopher Tremewan said, “While the challenges of pollution and climate change appear overwhelming, we have a chance if we act now and act together. These students have shown us how.”


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