Dialogue in the Green Era
By Said Irandoust President, Asian Institute of Technology
The current turbulence in the world, the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s is based on the 3F crisis (fuel, food and financial). As scholars and experts deliberate on the global crisis, one aspect has emerged very clearly – the future has to be created on sound sustainable green principles.
The role of all existing institutions, whether local or regional, national or international, educational or financial, corporate or social has come under focus once again. While the crisis has led to serious concerns all over the globe, Asia which hosts 60 percent of the world’s population has been most affected. The enormity of the crisis is such that no one has been left untouched.
The present crisis offers a tremendous opportunity to initiate a transition toward climate-resilient and low-carbon economies.
However, to re-road the economy requires that human resources and institutions are well equipped to address these new and unconventional challenges.
Institutions of higher learning are the ideal platforms to initiate the beginnings of this change. Higher learning institutions have an important role in sustainable development efforts, and especially in addressing emerging issues (climate change, disaster mitigation, challenges in post confict countries, etc.) as well as creating new leaders.
Key components and activities must entail interactions between all concerned parties, and institutes of learning must play a key role here by capacity building.
Such activities should be scalable so that the region can benefit from them and make better use of existing and potential international funding sources.
It is the responsibility of institutions of higher learning to take the lead to help the world chart a new course based on sound knowledge, ethical practices and firm commitment. The Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), which is celebrating its golden jubilee this year looks upon the current crisis both as a challenge and as an opportunity.
A challenge because the future of the world rests on tackling the current crisis and an opportunity because it has helped us emerge as a regional leader in the Green Era.
Recognising our role and responsibility for partnering Asia’s future, AIT has embarked on four major initiatives which has helped AIT emerge as a leader in the Green Era.
• First, the Institute will focus its research on ‘’Sustainable Development in the context of Climate Change''. An AIT Center of Excellence on Sustainable Development in the context of Climate Change will be launched in the coming few days.
• Second, as a lead contributor to regional sustainable development, the AIT has been designated by the United Nations as the site of the world's first Regional Centre of Excellence on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), dedicated to the promotion and achievement of the MDGs in Southeast Asia through education and training. More recently, a ''Joint Declaration on the Attainment of the Millennium Development Goals in ASEAN'' was signed and adopted by the ASEAN leaders at the 14th ASEAN Summit officially acknowledging the Center as an important avenue and platform for the ASEAN in meeting its MDG targets.
• A ''Yunus Center at AIT'', in partnership with Professor Muhammad Yunus, recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, has been established this year to address issues of food security, social business in agriculture, applications of ICT in agriculture, and to act as a watchdog to encourage research that will have a positive impact on the lives of poor people.
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