Rediscover Brunei Darussalam through the eyes of the People
Editor's Note: Greetings Readers! It has been a busy two weeks for me. I have been heavily involved in a number of local events, one of which was Asia Inc Forum's National Environment Conference 2012. The theme of the Conference was "Conserving our Resources for a Sustainable Future", and discussions revolved around 'Water', 'Consumption and Wastage', 'Sustainable Development', 'Resource Efficiency', 'Education' and 'Litter-Free'.
His Excellency Rob Fenn, the British High Commissioner to Brunei kindly offered to share his thoughts about the Conference via a guest blog post. For more articles about the 2012 National Environment Conference, see here, here and here.
The National Environment Conference: Pure Water in a Glass Half Full
By Rob Fenn
Dear Projek Brunei followers,
This is Rob Fenn, British High Commissioner. Delwin has kindly let me share with you my impressions of the National Environment Conference organised by Asia Inc Forum at the Empire Hotel on 20th June 2012.
I’ll start by explaining the connection between the NEC and the photo which accompanies this blog. That’s me at the wheel of the High Commission’s hybrid vehicle outside the entrance of International School Brunei (ISB). We took our Prius round to help the school celebrate their achievement of Green Flag status, the first school in South East Asia to get that accolade. It was ISB students who designed the car’s colourful livery – on “Heart of Borneo” themes.
Green Flag status does not come easily; years of effort by students and teachers at ISB culminated last week. The award has enabled David Taylor, ISB’s Executive Principal, to leave on a high. He’s moving to lead a school in Thailand, so perhaps we’ll eventually have a network of Green-Flagged international schools in this region, fanning out from Brunei.
The drive for the Green Flag has involved the whole student body. I know, because it has inspired my own children, who are ISB students. David Taylor’s “Future Flash” at the NEC underlined how striving for the Green Flag has taken the school’s green ethos to another level. One of his slides gave us a glimpse of ISB’s future campus, a fully-fledged Eco School.
Another link between our Prius and the NEC is HSBC, who sponsored both, in a way. Three years ago, there were no hybrid vehicles in Brunei. Many people and institutions were keen to try one, but only when HSBC committed to buying a fleet of them could NBT Toyota be sure it had a market here.
How things have changed in three short years. Now hybrid vehicles are commonplace, and this year’s NEC – which has become a fixture in the nation’s calendar – no longer feels like a platform from which imported environmentalists preach about initiatives in far away countries. It is a clearinghouse for good ideas “made in Brunei”.
My personal favourites were:
- Composting - something we can all do, which may be why it caught the imagination of so many in the room. At my house we separate-out organic waste and use it on the garden. If, like tree-planting or plastic bag-free weekends, a composting movement springs up in Brunei, it should also reduce the amount of “open burning”.
- Not running the tap while brushing my teeth; and cutting out long showers and unnecessary laundry. It’s hard, in a country where water is so plentiful, to remember that it has a cost. But the Director of Water Services at the PWD did a fine job of reminding us that, though it falls from the sky, it is not cost-free.
- Developing that thought in the session on rainforest conservation, the Permanent Secretary at MIPR helped us see that the rainforest is “upstream of everything”. It purifies water vital for the nation’s industry. In another session Dr Gallo reminded us that the ocean is “downstream of everything”. Plastic we throw in the river is ending up in the fish we eat.
An oration by a Bruneian student, Ms Adibah Syazwani Binti Hj Hariah Mohamed (which, incidentally, would not have been out of place at this month’s Rio+20 UN Summit), and the films submitted the Youth Eco-Video Documentary Awards showed that this agenda is supported right across Bruneian society.
NEC Guest of Honour Yang Berhormat Pehin Suyoi was right to emphasise how much work remains to be done. Brunei’s glass of water is indeed only half full. But the NEC also underlined how that work will not all fall to the government. Civil society is ready and willing to play its part. Half full or not, the water in Brunei’s glass is still pure.
Note: Photographs courtesy of Asia Inc Forum. For more, check out their Facebook Fanpage album here.
Guest of Honour, YB Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suyoi bin Haji Osman, Minister, Ministry of Development, Brunei Darussalam delivering the opening keynote address
Attendees of the National Environment Conference 2012
Guest of Honour Yang Berhormat Pehin Suyoi meeting Ms Annie Leonard, Author of the Story of Stuff
Guest of Honour Yang Berhormat Pehin Suyoi meeting Dr David Gallo, Ocean Explorer & Director of Special Projects, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, USA
Mr Wade Hughes, Director, General Business Development & Public Strategy, Alcoa with His Excellency Daniel Shields, the US Ambassador to Brunei
Dyg Hjh Normah Suria Hayati binti Pehin Jawatan Dalam Seri Maharaja Dato Seri Utama (Dr.) Hj Mohd Jamil Al Sufri, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources in a moderated dialogue session on Conservation & Sustainable Development
Moderated Dialogue session on Resource Efficiency
His Excellency Rob Fenn, the British High Commissioner engaging in open dialogue at the Conference
Guest of Honour Yang Berhormat Pehin Suyoi at the Green Expo
Guest of Honour Yang Berhormat Pehin Suyoi with the corporate partners of the National Environment Conference
Special Guest, YM Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yusoff bin Haji Ismail, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Education, Brunei Darussalam awarding winners from the Youth Eco-Video Documentary Awards
Mr David Taylor, Executive Principal, International School Brunei
Ms Annie Leonard, Author of the Story of Stuff delivering her keynote and engaged in a moderated dialogue session
Questions and comments from National Environment Conference participants
Assalamualaikum and greetings loyal readers of Projek Brunei. It's me again! Don't worry; I'm going to introduce myself again (see below). Firstly, I would like to thank Projek Brunei for letting me get involved again.
I am Muhammad Fadli bin Haji Awang Zaini (Note: that's me on the right! Photo credit to Jazie Zaini). This is the follow up article from my first guest blog post "Fadli Z.: This is my Story" in August 2011 regarding my involvement in charity through the Peer Group Counselours (PRS) in Pusat Tingkatan Enam Meragang (PTEM). Currently, I am the President of PRS 2011/2012 and we have been doing a lot of school activities and awareness campaigns. Right now though, I am focusing on a junior mentorship programme for the new batch of leaders to take over PRS 2012/2013 (which I am hoping one of them will do write up soon here when I am gone) but Brunei+20 is what I want to talk about.
Recently, I went to the Brunei+20: National Youth Seminar for Sustainable Development. It is a local youth gathering aimed at 16 to 25 years olds all over Brunei that was held on the 25th until 27th of May 2012 at Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD). Its purpose is for youths to take up the challenge towards the Rio+20 Conference, a joint effort of the whole system of the United Nations Association consisting of thousands of participants from government, private sector, NGOs and advocate youths who will gather at Rio at the end of May and June 2012.
Quote from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon
The Rio+20 Conference is themed "The Future We Want" within two core areas namely "Green Economy" and sustainable development through responsible governance locally and internationally. Youth from various countries has been and will be involved with the preparations for Rio+20 in "Major Group for Children and Youth" including youths that participated in this Brunei+20. You can read about Rio+20 here.
Personally, Brunei+20 is the first ever programme that I had the chance to interact with a large group of many like-minded idealistic and ambitious Bruneian youths on a local level. These youth participants cover a range of schools from Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), Institut Teknologi Brunei (ITB), Wasan Vocational School, Maktab Duli Pengiran Muda Al Muhtadee Billah, Maktab Sains Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan, PTE Meragang, Katok and Tutong, and Jerudong International School as well as graduates both local and overseas, the Brunei Darussalam AIDS Council and advocates of sustainable development.
Brunei+20 participants on our last night together
Brunei Superheroes (Photo credit to Jazie Zaini, editing by yours truly, faces of youth)
It began on a Friday when we first tucked our stuff in the UBD Hostels. After that, we walked to the beautiful Student Centre building where the participants were welcomed by Professor Madya Dr. Deborah Enzenbacher, under the UBD Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, on a lecture about sustainable development lecture. It was a great opportunity for everyone to reflect on what was what - whether what we want was actually what we want for ourselves in the future. Furthermore, we were welcomed with another lecture by Tuan Mahmud Yussof, Deputy Director of Forestry Department under the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, who introduced us on the Heart of Borneo in line with sustainable development and management. Later on, we indulged ourselves in our first pure vegetarian meal of the programme. After Maghrib prayers, we were served with another lecture by Awang Mohammad Hilmi Bahaiqy bin Haji Awang Yussof on "Islam and the Natural Environment".
Professor Madya Dr. Deborah Enzenbacher
Tuan Mahmud Yussof, Deputy Director of Forestry Department
Awang Mohammad Hilmi Bahaiqy bin Haji Awang Yussof on "Islam and the Natural Environment"
On the same evening, the Brunei+20 Opening Ceremony was officiated by Datin Hajah Adina Othman at the UBD Multipurpose Hall. She stated in her speech, “"I hope the youth participants will participate fully in the discussions and also hope that the statement will reflect the ... thoughts and ideas of youth based on their own environment, whether they are from rural or urban life" (Extract from The Brunei Times). She also took the opportunity to personally speak with the participants about creating sustainable development through social enterprise just before she left the venue.
Acting Minister of Youth, Culture and Sports Datin Hajah Adina Othman, delivering her speech accompanied by Khairunnisa A’shari, Head of International Relations Bureau of the Brunei Youth Council
Greetings Readers! More and more, locals are showcasing their talents on YouTube. Here are three very different videos, all uploaded recently within the last two months. If you know of more videos by locals you would like to see featured on Projek Brunei, reach me here.
Toons in Brunei by EstrellaFifteen
Revenge by Visionary162
This Love (a Maroon 5 Cover) by Have A Safe Fall
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