Forty-three students from local universities and 50 university students from other parts of Southeast Asia gathered at NUS University Town from 3 to 7 June to discuss challenges and co-create solutions for a sustainable future at Youth Ecosperity Dialogue 2018.
NUS School of Continuing and Lifelong Education (SCALE), in partnership with NUS Global Relations (GRO), organised the Dialogue, a parallel student track under the umbrella of Ecosperity 2018, a platform to exchange best practices in sustainable growth. Ecosperity 2018 was held on 5 June in conjunction with United Nations World Environment Day.
In his opening address, Mr Benedict Cheong, Chief Executive, Temasek Foundation International, expounded on the concept of ecosperity. “It’s a combination of two words — ecology, prosperity. The concept of ecosperity forces us to think about sustainability when we do work,” he said, further urging the students to ensure that their achievements as working adults be made within the context of sustainability in their respective communities.
Professor Wei Kwok Kee, SCALE Dean, said that the programme would allow the students to “explore and dive into ideas, thinking and actions surrounding the environment and sustainability which directly and indirectly impact the way we work, live and play”. Associate Professor Chang Tou Chuang, GRO Deputy Director encouraged them to translate all that they learn about sustainability, innovation, ecology and ecological prosperity back in their respective countries, in order to benefit both the individual countries and Southeast Asia collectively.
The programme featured lectures by NUS Geography Associate Professor Daniel Friess and his PhD student Benjamin Thompson followed by a workshop. Assoc Prof Friess highlighted the need to maintain balance when examining the issues surrounding palm oil, saying, “We have to balance the pros and cons when we’re managing large agricultural landscapes in the ASEAN region because [palm oil] is not completely bad; it has a very important place.”
For Year 4 NUS Sociology student Bryan Leong, the programme content particularly appealed to him. “The dialogue sessions have some really illustrious speakers. With that kind of experience, I’m sure they have insights that we could not have thought of ourselves,” he said. Nattakan Saiwongpanya from Chiang Mai University, Thailand was keen to learn more about ecological prosperity, saying, “There are lots of things going on in Thailand now and I want to learn from all the ASEAN countries and participants and adapt it to my country when I go back.”