More than 140 youths from all the ASEAN countries plus ASEAN's three partners, China, Korea and Japan are here in Brunei attending AYEF 2010. BRUNEI will be hosting the "Asean Plus Three Youth Environment Forum 2010 (Ayef)" later this month to promote and exchange environmental ideas among the region's youths. I had the opportunity to host dinner for them last night at Tarindak Restaurant at Jalan Residency. All the youths are staying at the plush resort Empire Hotel. The forum is sponsored by the Brunei Government together with JAIF - Japan ASEAN Integration Fund.
The Forum began on Thursday and will end on Sunday, has the theme "Creating a Climate for Change" are attended by some 140 participants aged 14 to 23, including 80 from Brunei. The forum aims to inculcate a sense of ownership of the environment among the young population of the Asean Plus Three countries, while placing emphasis that their well being and the environment lie in their hands.
In addition, the forum will enhance youths' knowledge and understanding on current and emerging regional environmental issues and cooperative programmes and promote youth participation and involvement in environmental endeavours. Activities organised to help achieve the forum's objectives include presentations on environmental issues, team-building sessions, country presentations on roles and contributions of youths in environmental protection and management, field trips and dialogue on opportunities and challenges for regional youth cooperation.
Each member country is required to produce a country paper presentation which entails the current status of environmental concerns, including environmental issues and problems and best practices adopted, as well as the initiatives carried by member country youth networks and organisations in addressing the issues.
The paper should also include the importance of the role played by youths in bridging the gap to address challenges of effective environmental management in achieving sustainable development and suggestions on possible ways and means on how the youth can cooperate together to realise their goal of sustainable development.
Invited speakers had been scheduled to set the stage for the participants of the two-day workshop on the different aspects to approach environmental issues on reducing carbon footprint, rethinking waste, sustainable food and water resources and conserving biodiversity.
On the opening day on Thursday, this is what the Minister of Development said:-
Ladies and Gentlemen….
First please allow me on behalf of all those presence here, take this opportunity to convey our deepest condolences to the Chinese delegation, in light of the recent devastating earthquake affecting Yushu County in western China. We are saddened by this inconsequential calamity and also moved by every miraculous and relentless search and rescue efforts undertaken by the Government and people of the People’s Republic of China. To the families and victims of this terrible disaster and to the rescue workers, our hearts and prayers go out to them all.
Such devastation and damages shed into light the vulnerability of our region to climate change risks and impacts. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in America last Thursday reported that last month was the warmest March on record worldwide, based on records dating back to 1880. The average temperature for the month was 56.3 degrees Fahrenheit (13.5 degrees Celsius). That was 1.39 degrees Fahrenheit (0.77 C) above the average for the month over the 20th Century. Although these numerical figures may appear and sound insignificant and inconsequential, the resultant severe drought it caused have brought uncompromising and unforgiving impacts on the global water supply and land productivity. This incident evidently further supports the many studies conclusion that “climate change is real and happening”.
The Asian Development Bank Study on the economics of Climate Change in Southeast Asia (2009) revealed that Southeast-Asia is highly vulnerable to climate change. From 1951-2000 the region temperature increased by 0.1-0.3 Celsius whilst the rainfall demonstrate a declining trend for the period 1960-2000. If no action is taken to mitigate climate change impacts, the study projected that the region will suffer economic loss that amounts to 6.7% of its GDP each year by 2100.
According to the World Resource Institute Climate Change Indicator Tools 2009, Brunei Darussalam actual cumulative carbon emission of 165 mega ton for 1850-2005, constitutes 0.0167% of global total carbon emission. Brunei Darussalam though not a source of significant emission of greenhouse gases, is committed to undertake actions to address climate change. Early this year, His Majesty The Sultan Dan Yang Di Pertuan of Negara Brunei Darussalam has consented the establishment of Brunei Darussalam National Council on Climate Change tasked with the responsibility to develop and implement policy and strategies on climate change mitigation and adaptation. We are embarking on a project to establish national baseline data and information on carbon emission level for Brunei Darussalam which will provide the basis to develop a National Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA).
Considering that our youth and young populace constitute the most active section of our society and the section that is most receptive to new ideas for positive change, we recognize the paramount importance of our youths and our young Citizens participation, contribution and stewardship role in conserving and protecting the environment sustainability. They are not only the leaders of tomorrow who will shape the future of societies and cultures, but already today can play a key role to spearhead and champion diverse initiatives for social change. We value the youth role and contribution to address climate change challenges. To this end and for this reason, we reaffirm our commitment to play host to the ASEAN+3 Youth Forum 2010 for the second time.
It is my pleasure to welcome all the ASEAN+3 youth here today in Brunei Darussalam and I congratulate each and every one of you on your achievements to date. I look forward to hearing more about the progress of your own journeys, including your experience in your own respective countries and also your feedback after attending the ASEAN+3 Youth Environment Forum linked events, which I have quite a strong interest and commitment.
This forum is held in conjunction with Earth Day 2010, celebrated by worldwide citizens on 22 April this year. In line with the aim of Earth Day to enhance the participatory and ownership role that we, individually and collectively play with respect to the environmental protection and conservation, we must put our act together to initiate steps that we can take individually and collectively to create a positive change. And this is what the semantic of this Forum theme – ‘CREATING A CLIMATE FOR CHANGE’ is all about. This theme reflects that this Youth Forum is not only about enhancing awareness on climate change, but it leads to a far reaching efforts to meet the challenges posed by climate change and reshape how our youth think about, use and manage their carbon footprint. It will provide the tools and means to enable the youth to become part of the solutions to combat climate change.
Each of the youth here today is about to embark in his or her own great adventure and destiny in the field of Environment. Simply to get here, each of these youth has had to demonstrate their determination and commitment. I congratulate you all for being here and hope you will enjoy the journey just as much as you have been anticipating the destination.
The urgency of addressing current environmental issues is extremely high, and as I stressed earlier, the role of youth is profoundly increasing especially today, under the conditions of the world crisis and global competition. The youth is a strategic and precious resource and asset of any nation. Introduction of innovative approaches and information technologies, use of foreign experience in economy, production, and management is a prerogative of young professionals. The youth also represents continuity of history and culture, life of older and reproduction of the next generations depend on it.
I cannot stress this more that in this period of the youth lives is a time when many important decisions must be made. Many will have advice for you on what you should focus on. Some of that advice if not all, will be good and some although well meaning may simply add to the pressure of this already quite pressured time in your life. My only wish is that you approach this forum in the best of spirit and exploration, as well as unleash you curiosity such that you are able to embrace the topic of environment close to your heart.
I also hope that at this forum, the youth will take the opportunity to meet, interact and work together with your peers from across ASEAN+3. Around you today, and when you go to the forum are individuals who share common interests and have all chosen to tread the same path and I hope that amid the busy program you will find the time to get to know each other and nurture the friendship.
I am also confident that the decisions and initiatives worked out in the course of this forum will be used for intensifying the dialogue and partnership between ASEAN+3 in the field of environment. I am convinced that your knowledge, talents and energy will allow you to take a resolute step to play your part in realizing ASEAN aspiration of attaining environmental sustainability.
Distinguished Guest, Ladies and gentlemen,
The ASEAN+3 Youth Environment Forum is a wonderful initiative and has been a great success in the past. I believe that its success is good news for the future of our environment, and I thank and congratulate the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation of Brunei Darussalam, the Government of Japan through Japan ASEAN Integration Fund and the ASEAN Secretariat for their commitment and relentless efforts in making this forum possible and for providing the youth of ASEAN+3 with the opportunity to meet and interact.
To the youths attending the AYEF 2010, I congratulate you on being selected for this Forum - it's a great achievement. I wish you interesting explorations and I hope that the adventures awaiting you at the Forum will, indeed, lead you to choose to be a part of the future of implementing positive change in the world. I urged all of you to ask where will you be in 15 – 20 years time and what do you hope to achieve especially in the field of environment.
On that note, with the Kalimah Bismillahir Rahamanir Rahim, I officially declare the ASEAN+3 Youth Environment Forum 2010 open.