British High Commission’s green strategy
| Danial Norjidi |
THE British High Commission to Brunei Darussalam was named as victor in the ‘Business’ category of the Trash to Treasure campaign, a recycling competition that was held in the lead up to the 7th National Environment Conference yesterday.
The competition saw participants collecting as much waste as they could for recycling, and the High Commission emerged as the winner of their category with a score of 1,538kg.
Speaking to the Bulletin yesterday at their booth at the conference’s Green Expo, British High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam David Campbell shared that winning the competition was not their motive for entering.
“We wanted to support the competition, because we think it’s such a good idea to focus people’s attention on this,” he said.
The High Commission, as part of its green strategy, already has a recycling policy for waste paper and other items. What the competition did, he highlighted, was galvanise everyone at the High Commission, seeing them have team meetings to identify and make sure that they were recycling to the maximum.
“We had some work coming up where we did need to get rid of some stuff, so I think that helped us to focus our minds. It was a great initiative and we were very pleased to support it.
“What it did was concentrate our minds. We would have weekly updates on how things were going, and would remind people of dates when recyclables would be collected. It was just through simple things like that, but I think we surprised ourselves with the amount collected.”
Asked if there is anything they plan to take forward from their involvement in the competition, Campbell said, “As well as recycling, we try to look at all our activity within the High Commission across the board. Can we restructure our transport so that we produce less emissions? Can we do more video conferencing instead of meeting? Can we switch off all unnecessary lights?”
Another initiative by the High Commission is the ‘10:10 pledge,’ which encourages people at an individual level to ask themselves, “Is there anything I can commit to as an individual?
“One of my colleagues said that she wanted to walk more and make less use of her car. I said I want to make sure that at least one day a week, I don’t eat meat and focus more on vegetarian food, and therefore, in terms of emissions that seems to be a much more sustainable thing.
“So, very small things, but I think partly, with these issues, there are things that governments can do, there are things that the private sector can do, but then we all also have an individual responsibility, so we try and be good corporate citizens,” he continued.
“We realise that we are guests in Brunei and therefore we act in a responsible way when it comes to the environment.”
Their booth at the expo featured a global map displaying the latest information from the meteorological office in the UK that shows what the likely impact of climate change will be in various parts of the world.
Also highlighted at the booth was the work being done both in the UK and around the world in terms of smart city development, including everything from ensuring new housing is being built with reduced emissions, to looking at more sustainable and less polluting transport as well as recycling and trying to avoid too much waste going into landfill sites.
He asserted that it simply isn’t sustainable to keep dumping rubbish into landfill sites when a lot of that waste can be recycled.
Speaking on what the High Commission is doing with local entities in terms of the environment, he said, “I think there’s lots of ways in which we can learn from each other. We tend to work closely with societies like the Beach Bunch and certainly government ministries here. If they are looking for how the UK is tackling various issues, we can support that with visits to projects in the UK in any aspects of smart cities.
“Another thing we are doing is alerting UK businesses about Brunei’s strategy so that we can make sure companies are aware of what’s going on in Brunei and what opportunities there are for them to work in partnership.”
Adding on, the High Commissioner said of the National Environment Conference, “We think this is a great initiative to have a conference like this.
“I think the fact that the minister has spent so much time here today is a signal of the importance that Brunei attaches to this, and we see this as a subject that is not just a one-off for a one-day conference, but something that is a very important sector for us to focus on, so we look forward to working with Brunei in lots of different ways over the coming years.”