Innovate for human well-being

06 September 2017 | General News
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Dr Balakrishnan touched on key areas that the Singapore government has been working on to help citizens and businesses adapt and grow in a changing environment

The 2nd Raffles Dialogue titled “Human Well-Being and Security in 2030: The Critical Role of Innovation” brought together global scholars and practitioners from 4 to 6 September to analyse areas of concern regarding human well-being and security, particularly for Asia Pacific. The event was organised by NUS and the National University Health System (NUHS).

A key challenge which surfaced at the inaugural Raffles Dialogue in 2015 was the lack of implementation rather than knowledge, noted Professor John Eu-Li Wong, Chief Executive of NUHS and Senior Vice President (Health Affairs) at NUS, in his welcome remarks. “It has become even more important to gather leaders from across academia, government, healthcare, enterprise and the scientific media to better understand the issues confronting us, and explore strategies to address them,” he said. Prof Wong is also Chairman of the 2nd Raffles Dialogue Organising Council.

In his speech as Guest-of-Honour, Singapore Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan drove home four key essentials for well-being and security in a rapidly changing global climate — being at the forefront of the evolving digital landscape brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution; anticipating and preparing for future requirements through education and upskilling; greater global cooperation to boost research and innovation that create meaningful societal outcomes; and building a secure and resilient future by strengthening cybersecurity governance.  

“It’s actually a wonderful time to be alive because we’re living through a revolution, very few generations have that opportunity to have a ringside seat to a revolution,” said Dr Balakrishnan. “If we can just get the innovations right — not just in technology, but in politics, social policy, education and research — and establish new global norms of behaviour and transaction, then so much is possible and only then can we achieve this concept of human well-being and security by 2030. My point is that it’s possible, but it’s not inevitable.”

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Dr Yudhoyono and Mdm Ani Bambang Yudhoyono at the opening event

Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, former President of Indonesia, also delivered a keynote address during the Dialogue’s opening dinner, touching on his experiences in governance, the importance of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the current precarious state of world affairs.

“The issues of human well-being and human security are truly complex and broad. It is not easy to analyse them all but for the sake of humanity we cannot surrender by closing the book and ending the discussion. I believe that the 2nd Raffles Dialogue is one of the drivers which will lay the seed for better human well-being and security in the future. Equally important is for this forum to transmit the messages and wisdom beyond these four walls,” said Dr Yudhoyono.

The issues of human well-being and human security are truly complex and broad. It is not easy to analyse them all but for the sake of humanity we cannot surrender by closing the book and ending the discussion.

Innovation was the central theme of discussion throughout the event, with talks by eminent speakers from countries such as Australia, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, UK and US across five main areas — Improving Human Well-being; Information; Finances and Resources for Human Well-being; Mental Health in an Ageing Society and Spiritual Well-being; and Global Governance.

The speakers shared insights on novel approaches in tackling global health concerns such as managing infectious diseases in an interconnected world, financing research of neglected tropical diseases and chronic conditions, rethinking personalised care for the elderly and improving mental health and resiliency, among others.

See media coverage.