Action Proposal and Competition Brief

AIRI Urban-Rural Sustainability Fellowship
Action Proposal and Competition Brief


The AIRI Urban-Rural Sustainability Fellowship aims to incubate, empower and connect thought leaders and exceptional practitioners from across the Asia-Pacific region to spearhead urban-rural integration and rural sustainability. Upon the completion of the four training modules and the Hackathon of the Fellowship, they are encouraged to translate their knowledge and skill sets into actions and create sustainability impact for the rural areas. Each Fellow is therefore required to prepare an action proposal that addresses rural sustainability challenges in the region.

Interested Fellows may submit their proposals to an award competition. Winners of the competition will be awarded with a seed grant that enables them to launch and implement their innovative ideas.

Upon the announcement of the competition results, all the proposals will be uploaded to the AIRI website as part of a repository of sustainability solutions to inform and inspire future rural sustainability initiatives in the Asia-Pacific region.


Preparation for the Action Proposal
(Compulsory Submission – For All Fellows)

As part of the requirements to complete the Fellowship, each Fellow must submit an action proposal to address rural sustainability challenges in his/her country/region, i.e., Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan, or Thailand. 

The action proposals should:

  1. Address the rural sustainability challenges with a holistic and innovative approach;
  2. Deliver benefits related to two or more Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and bring positive environmental, social and economic impact;
  3. Enhance community resilience by improving the community’s ability to adapt and respond to external risks and pressures;
  4. Look into ways to engage relevant stakeholders concerning the issue of interest and consider feasible ways to utilise existing community resources; and
  5. Be feasible, scalable, replicable, and have the potential for research and policy impact. 

Submission format and deadline:

Fill in the AIRI Urban-Rural Sustainability Fellowship Action Proposal Template (click here to download) and submit in Word format via this link (Full url: by 12:00nn HKT, Jul 14, 2023. Please name the file in the format of Region_Name of Fellow_Proposal (example: HK_CHAN Mary_Proposal).

Please also upload a separate file to include supplementary images and diagrams (maximum 50MB). Please name the file in the format of Region_Name of Fellow_Supplementary Materials (example: HK_CHAN Mary_Supplementary Materials).

Note: The final version of the proposals submitted by all the Fellows will be published on the AIRI website ( after the Competition Phase.

Sharing session:

A sharing session will be held on Jul 29, 2023 for each Fellow to deliver a 5-minute presentation of their proposals and get feedback from peers and professors. It is also a good mutual learning opportunity for all the Fellows and Associate Fellows.


Preparation for the Competition
(Voluntary Submission - For Interested Fellows)

Interested Fellows may apply for the AIRI Urban-Rural Sustainability Competition with an enhanced action proposal incorporating the comments and suggestions from peers and professors as well as relevant experts and locals. There will be a total of four awards for the competition (one laureate from Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Thailand respectively), each with a seed grant of up to US$25,000 for project implementation.

Eligibility and team composition:

  1. Fellows who have met the attendance and assignment requirements of the AIRI Urban-Rural Sustainability Fellowship will be eligible to enter the award competition.
  2. The Fellow should take up the role of the Project Leader and may invite up to 5 members in total to join the competition as a team to strengthen the proposal and its subsequent implementation. Team members may include other Fellows, the Associate Fellows and/or other individuals from the Project Leader’s network.

Assessment criteria:

  1. Contribution to the sustainable development of rural communities (25%) – benefits to the local community and contributions to UNSDGs, social inclusion, gender equality, etc.
  2. Creativity, innovation and originality (25%) – new approaches and models to tackle rural issues and problems
  3. Feasibility of the solution (25%) – concrete and actionable solutions grounded in quantitative and qualitative data
  4. Capability of the team (25%) – qualifications and strength, execution ability, and project management knowledge and skills

Submission format and deadline:

Follow the AIRI Urban-Rural Sustainability Fellowship Action Proposal Template (click here to download) and submit the enhanced action proposal in Word format via this link (Full url: 12:00nn HKT, Aug 11, 2023. Please name the file in the format of Region_Name of Fellow_Proposal for Competition (example: HK_CHAN Mary_Proposal for Competition). 

Supplementary materials (in a single zip file of maximum 50MB) should be uploaded via the same link (Full url: Please name the file in the format of Region_Name of Fellow_Supplementary Materials for Competition (example: HK_CHAN Mary_Supplementary Materials for Competition). The supplementary materials may include, for example:

  • Photos and images of the rural area/village your proposal is concerned
  • Flow diagram that explains the rural stakeholder’s interactions
  • Images and/or video link of the prototype
  • Detailed project timeline and budget plan
  • CVs of the project leader and team members
  • Support letters from the concerned rural area/village stakeholders

Note: The support letters, personal CVs, project timelines and budget plans will not be disclosed on the AIRI website.

Competition stages (updated on Aug 13, 2023 with changes shown in red):

Prerequisite Presentation Delivering a 5-minute proposal presentation at the Jul 29, 2023 sharing session is a prerequisite for Fellows to enter the competition.
(Week 1)
Interested Fellows submit an enhanced version of their action proposal together with supplementary materials (if any) via this link by 12:00nn HKT, Aug 11, 2023.
Review by Regional Panel
(Week 2-3)
Each proposal will be reviewed by a Regional Panel composed of 3-5 panellists with rural revitalisation and community development expertise in the corresponding region (i.e., Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan, or Thailand respectively). The Regional Panel should be chaired by the programme leader(s) in respective region. A maximum of 3 proposals will be shortlisted from each region to enter the pitching stage.
Preparation by Shortlisted Fellows
(Week 4-5)
Shortlisted proposals will be returned to the Fellows with comments and questions from the Regional Panel for the teams to prepare for pitching presentation. Fellows may submit their revised proposal for pitching together with a 2-minute project introduction video by 12:00nn HKT, Sep 15, 2023.
Review by Judging Panel
(Week 6-7)
The revised version of the shortlisted proposals and the 2-minute project introduction video will be forwarded to the Judging Panel for further review. The Judging Panel will be composed of invited judges from international partners and HSBC.
Pitching Presentation to the Judging Panel
(End of Week 7)
Project teams of the shortlisted proposals shall do a pitching presentation on Sep 23, 2023 to the Judging Panel. The Judging Panel will then confirm the competition results.
Announcement of Result & Award Ceremony One winning Proposal from Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Thailand respectively will be announced shortly after the Pitching Presentation. The Award Ceremony will be held during the Regional Forum II cum Award Ceremony in Bangkok (Jan 21, 2024 - Jan 25, 2024).


Regional Panel Membership

Hong Kong Panel:

  • Professor Wai-Fung Lam, Director, Centre of Civil Society and Governance, HKU (Panel Chair)
  • Mr. Andrew Kwok, Principal Manager, Countryside Conservation Office, Environment and Ecology Bureau, HKSAR Government
  • Ms. Carmen Chan, Committee Chair, New Territories Traditional Culture Committee, Heung Yee Kuk
  • Mr. Ken So, Chief Executive, The Conservancy Association

Thailand Panel:

  • Dr. Thi Phuoc Lai Nguyen, Program Chair of Development Planning Management and Innovation (DPMI), Asian Institute of Technology (Panel Chair)
  • Dr. Kim Neil Irvine, Associate Professor, Thammasat Design School, Faulty of Architecture and Urban Planning, Thammasat University
  • Khun Ravadee Prasertcharoensuk, Director of Sustainable Development Foundation, Thailand
  • Dr. Darin Darin Khongsatjaviwat, Expert in Rural Development and Rural Administration, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Naresuan University

Mainland China Panel:

  • Professor Yahua Wang, Associate Dean, School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University; Executive President, China Institute for Rural Studies, Tsinghua University (Panel Chair)
  • Dr. Ruijuan Zhang, Associate Research Fellow, Rural Development Institute, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
  • Dr. Xiaoli Wang, Associate Professor, Department of the Social and Ecological Development, Party School of the Central Committee of CPC
  • Dr. Liangzhen Zang, Associate Research Fellow, Institute of Agricultural Economics and Development, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences

Taiwan Panel:

  • Professor Ching-Ping Tang, Vice President for International Cooperation, National Cheng Chi University (Panel Chair)
  • Assistant Professor Ping-Hsien Lin, Department of Social Work, Tunghai University 
  • Ms. Man-Chi Tang, Deputy General Manager, SinoPac Holdings
  • Mr. YangShian Chang, Project Manager, University Outreach Office, National Cheng Chi University
  • Ms. Chen Wei Han, Co-founder, QK Studio


Judging Panel Membership

  • Dr Diane ARCHER, Senior Research Fellow, Stockholm Environment Institute
  • Professor Shiuh-Shen CHIEN, Distinguished Professor, Department of Geography, National Taiwan University 
  • Ms Xin LI, Deputy Director-general, International Poverty Reduction Center in China
  • Dr Maiko NISHI, Research Fellow, International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative, United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability
  • Ms Bonnie YIP, Senior Manager, Corporate Sustainability, Asia Pacific, HSBC


Winners and Finalists

The list of winners and finalists can also be found at:


Innovation Solutions for Rural Revitalisation

Abridged form of the final version of the rural sustainability action proposals submitted by the Fellows can be viewed at:



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