Promoting SDGs via international conference
The Department of Student Affairs, Department of Soft Skills Competency, Division of Community and International Networking and UTAR Student Representative Council jointly organised the “International Young Leaders Conference 2019” in collaboration with IYLC’s international collaborative partner ENGAGE, sponsored by IOI Group Properties Berhad at UTAR Sungai Long from 25 until 26 October 2019.
The two-day conference saw more than ten speakers from various organisations sharing their expertise on Sustainable Development Goals. Participated universities were UTAR, Universiti Tenaga Malaysia (UNITEN); Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC); Xiamen University Malaysia; Tamkang University, Taiwan; Airlangga University, Indonesia; Manuel S. Enverga University Foundation, Philippines; University of Sanya, China; and Universiti Brunei Darussalam.
Present at the opening ceremony were Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC) Deputy Secretary General (Environment and Climate Change) Dr Nagulendran Kangayatkarasu, IOI Properties Group General Manager of Corporate Communication and Sustainability Kristine Ng, UTAR President Ir Prof Dr Ewe Hong Tat, speakers, students and staff.
Prof Ewe said as he welcomed the participants, “I hope the participants will make use of this opportunity to build networks with one another and find opportunities to learn from each other as well. I believe that all these activities would be a precious learning platform for the participants to explore new challenges and discoveries and learn by engaging in educational activities as well as exchanging ideas while moving forward to a more inclusive and sustainable development within communities.”
In the opening speech, Dr Nagulendran said, “I am pleased to see the university having this conference on sustainable development. Sustainable development is very important especially at the university level and should be mainstream for all students from various backgrounds. Everything that you do or may do in the future requires the elements of sustainability because it is built from three pillars known as people, planet and profit. We need to look at the whole global environmental issues from our lenses because we need to be clear on what we are championing. The university can take little steps by making the campus greener.”
Themed ‘Youth Empowerment and Inclusion in Achieving Sustainable Development Goals’, the conference aimed to enhance a dialogue on ways multi-stakeholders crosscutting partnerships can be leveraged towards the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to harness the role of learning institutions in the implementation of the SDGs in the Asia Pacific region as well as to provide a platform for students and youths to discuss and share ideas on SDGs.
Through the conference, participants were able to understand and explore the crosscutting partnerships of multi-stakeholders in achieving the SDGs and have a clear understanding on how learning institutions can play their role in the implementation of the SDGs. It also provided them with a platform to share different views and ideas from different sectors which lead to action towards a sustainable community.
Dr Nagulendran in his keynote presentation titled “Implementing the SDGs in Malaysia in the Field of Environment” said, “The university can integrate and demonstrate best practice in operations, teaching and learning philosophies; conduct research development; educate and collaborate with communities; form partnership with government, industries and civic organisations, and have a living laboratory in driving sustainability. Also, it is important for everyone to partake in this movement by doing actions at individual levels to achieve our goals.” In his presentation, he spoke about the global megatrend, the Paris Agreement, Malaysia’s pathway to sustainable development, policy response, key development achievements in Malaysia and MESTECC initiatives 2019.
Following the opening ceremony was two talks by UNDP Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam Programme Manager Jun Jabar and UTAR Vice President for Student Development and Alumni Relations Prof Dr Choong Chee Keong with their talks titled “The Accelerating progress: An empowered, inclusive and equal Asia and the Pacific” and “UTAR’s initiative moving towards Sustainable Development Goals” respectively.
The first parallel session was conducted based on two themes known as ‘Environmental Sustainability: Plastic Waste Pollution in Malaysia’ and ‘Leading through Volunteering Action for SDGs’. Greenpeace Malaysia Public and Engagement Campaigner Heng Kiah Chun with his title “The Challenge is Curbing in Single-use Plastic Waste” and Ecocentric Transitions Sdn Bhd Sustainability Facilitator Firdaus Nisha Muhammad Faizal with her title “ Living a Zero Waste Lifestyle” shared their presentation in the “Environmental Sustainability: Plastic Waste Pollution in Malaysia” session while ENGAGE Co-Founder Simone Galimberti and UTAR Chow Chun Kit conducted activities in the “Leading through Volunteering Action for SDGs” session.
The second day of the conference started with two talks featuring International Islamic University Malaysia Deputy Director of Sejahtera Center for Sustainability and Humanity Dr Irina Safitri Zen with her talk titled “The Role of Learning Institutions in promoting and achieving the SDGs” and APUCEN (Asia-Pacific University-Community Engagement Network) Executive Director Prof Dato’ Dr Aileen Tan Shau Hwai with her talk titled “Reinvigorating the role of Universities for Community Change”.
UNDP Malaysia Head of Exploration, Accelerator Lab Benjamin Ong Jia Ming presented on “The Significance of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) towards Young People” in the second parallel session, themed ‘The Values of Education Policy for Sustainable Development” while Simone Galimberti and IMechE Student Chapter 2019/2020 Chairperson Chong Ai Nee spoke for the theme ‘Connecting the Dots: Linking the SDGs’.
For the third parallel session, APR Electronic Services Sdn Bhd Danny Ng presented on “Marketing E-waste through E-Commerce” while Ministry of Housing and Local Government Special Function Officer to Minister Chua Yee Ling presented on “The Model Village: Achievements, Challenges and Way Forward.”
The last parallel session was also conducted based on two themes known as ‘Towards a Sustainable and Eco-friendly Campus’ and ‘How to better engage and mobilise students’ societies and clubs to achieve the SDGs’. UTAR Green Committee Chairperson Assoc Prof Dr Lai Soon Onn with his presentation titled “The Roles of Higher Education Institution in Tackling Climate Change” and Institute of Ocean and Earth Sciences Director Prof Dr Sumaini Yusoff with her presentation titled “Critical Role of Eco-friendly campus in addressing Sustainable Development Agenda” presented for the first theme while Simone Galimberti and Projects Integrating Sustainable Method (PRiSM) Practitioner Ng Zi Kent conducted activities for the second theme.
SDGs Competition 2019: Stand Up for the Change was held in conjunction with the conference where finalists were given the opportunity to pitch their projects related to sustainability. Ng Chuan Hoe and Koh Xian En with their project titled “BYOC Challenge” won Champion with RM500 cash prize while Teh Li Xing, Gan Jia Yi, Leow Kai Xin, Ling Pei Yi, and Siew Zhen Toong won the first runner-up with RM300 cash prize for their project titled “Shoebox Christmas 2019”. Isabel Tok Pei Hang, Poh Shu Kim, Wong Yee Xiong, Leiu Jing Ming and Tan Jia Jiunn walked away as the second runner-up with RM200 cash prize for their project titled “WASTE.D” while Yap Wai Yee, Lin Yuan Yu and Yap Jen Yu took home RM100 cash prize for winning the third runner-up for their project titled “Four Leaf Clover Project”.
Prof Choong said during the closing ceremony, “It is good to know that our university, corporates, and SMEs are all hand-in-hand in supporting the SDGs and shaping our future leaders. I hope these two days have benefitted you with valuable insights through the talks from our esteemed speakers and the network of new friends that you have built. Let this conference be a start for everyone here to continue the effort to inspire people around you in the effort to reach the SDGs as we move towards 2030.”
“This conference met my expectation as it widens my knowledge about SDGs. It encouraged me to come up with solutions and taught me to be responsible for the environment and to preserve Mother Nature for the future generation,” said Juville Ray Ayuma, participant of IYLC.