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SIIA Forum on Key Environmental Challenges in Southeast Asia

Updated On: Dec 05, 2006

SIIA Forum at the SEAGA (Southeast Asian Geography Association) Conference 2006 on "Key Environmental Challenges in Southeast Asia", 28 November 200610.00am - 12.30pm

28 Nov 2006-The SIIA Forum, sponsored by Shell Singapore, served as the half-day opening plenary for the three-day 2006 Southeast Asian Geography Association (SEAGA) Conference.

Guest-of-Honour Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee, Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and Law, delivered the opening address, followed by Professor Mark Cleary, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the Universityof Plymouth, who gave the keynote speech to an audience of around 500 academics, teachers, and civil society representatives. 

The Forum - with Simon Tay as chair - explored key environmental challenges facing Southeast Asia through presentations by three prominent speakers from the region: Dr Mubariq Ahmad (Executive Director, WWF-Indonesia), Dr Pak Sum Low (Regional Adviser, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), Thailand), and Mr Masanori Kobayashi (Senior Policy Researcher, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), Japan).

In his presentation on "How to Green Our Growth," Dr Low opined that "the region is already living beyond its ecological carrying capacity while economic growth has to continue to lift 2/3 of world poor living in the region out of poverty. Thus the region has to urgently shift away from 'grow first, clean up later paradigm' towards 'ecologically efficiency economic growth - Green Growth' paradigm."

Dr Ahmad shared with the audience WWF's Heart of Borneo initiative, a conservation area occupying 220,000 square kilometres of equatorial rainforest straddling the three nations of BruneiIndonesiaand Malaysia. With the current risk of haze-generating forest fires plaguing the region, Dr Ahmad argued that we should have "all the more reason to protect the Heart of Borneo."

In Mr Kobayashi's presentation he noted that Asia's energy demand is the fastest growing in the world, surpassing all other regions. According to Kobayashi, "Asian countries [need to] amalgamate their wisdom and expertise to develop a sustainable development model that nurtures the [region's] treasury of environmental and ecosystem integrity." 

The SIIA Forum forms part of an education and outreach programme that falls under the institute's "Environment and Governance" research pillar. Through such outreach efforts, the SIIA aims to generate greater awareness on transnational environment issues, particularly in the context of their impact on Singaporeand the region. 

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