Spotlight on green ideas for Brunei’s future
| Danial Norjidi |
THE 7th National Environment Conference was launched yesterday at The Empire Hotel & Country Club, putting forward constructive ideas to build a green and sustainable future for Brunei.
Now in its seventh year, the Brunei’s premier and largest conference on environmental sustainability brought together around 200 key stakeholders and leading members of the public and private sectors and academia to engage in a stimulating and dynamic dialogue with international experts at the conference.
Carrying the theme of “Brunei’s Green Future: Ideas, Strategies, Possibilities”, the conference featured experts from the region and the United States to discuss ideas for energy conservation, strategies for green and sustainable development and possibilities of energy transition.
Launching the conference yesterday was the Minister of Development, Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suyoi bin Haji Osman, who attended as the guest of honour.
The first session at the conference put focus on smart ideas towards a green city, which discussed what best practices, policies and technologies can make a difference, and what can be learned from other cities.
Edwin Khew, the Managing Director of Anaergia Pte Ltd and Chairman of Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore delivered a scene-setting address before joining an open forum discussion with Yanty Rahman, the VP of the Architect Division of PUJA and Principal Architect of Eco Bumi Architect as well as Vinod Kesava, the Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of the GreenAsia Group.
In the discussion, moderated by Stuart Lee, Consultant at Rhymin & Partners, the main take away was that future proofing, for example, planning for the future, is essential, as is the need to not simply cut and paste from other places, but to also take local content into consideration.
Another notable point was made by Khew, who said, “People in Brunei need to appreciate what they have, and how lucky they are. They need to see other cities in Asean, where lighting or even heat to cook is not available.”
“You have been given all these subsidies,” he continued. “I can tell you, it’s very difficult to take it away once it’s given. Indonesia, Malaysia faced the same problem. It was a political nightmare, and it can cost a lot of money.
“It’s a major challenge, but one that can be turned into an opportunity. I advise that the younger people take advantage of the blessings you have in Brunei and develop Brunei into a model city that other places in the world can emulate. You have the resources that can do this. You are one of the countries like Singapore who can use your resources well to develop into an eco-city.”
What followed was a session focused on renewable energy, in which Milo Sjardin, the Head of Asia-Pacific for the Bloomberg New Energy Finance partook in an open forum discussion with Andrew Dy, Asia Inc Forum’s GM of regional programmes.
In the session, Sjardin said, “From my perspective, I think the realisation should be there that renewables are in a different place than they were five years ago. It can be sustainable and profitable, and countries and companies should see it as part of the future, and invest in these technologies.”
“For Brunei, it’s down to the people and the government to figure out what kind of energy future you create for yourself, because you can put policies in place to get there,” he said. “No policy is successful if you don’t make a choice as to where you want to be. If you figure out where you want Brunei to be in 20 years’ time, you need to make policies towards that.”
“To the point of energy efficiency, it should be part of that mix because it’s profitable. Energy efficiency is economically profitable, but you need a bit of a policy nudge in order to make that happen.”
“I think there’s a lot of thinking and action to be done in order to make it happen in Brunei. The future is bright,” he added.
Yves Grosjean, Total E&P Borneo BV’s General Manager also took the opportunity to comment during the session, saying, “As you may know, the new motto of the company is “committed to better energy”. Therefore, one of our main strategic goals is to identify the right energies to be developed by the company for the future.”
“This is one of the reasons why we are quite heavily involved now is renewables. What we have selected is Photovoltaics. We invested in the sector when it was booming and pretty expensive.”
“Our investment in the solar business is a very long-term investment, and we invested in the sector because we believe in its sustainability for an energy to be sustainable it has to be economically profitable.”
“We made losses in solar technology for a while, based on rather selective marketing or deployment. We have targeted the markets where the price of allows us to do so,” he said. “Now, coming to Brunei it is not profitable because the price of power is not high enough. So what is profitable for Brunei is energy conservation.”
Next was a luncheon conversation with Erin Schrode, the Co-Founder of Teens Turning Green, which was moderated by Jenny Malai Ali.
Seen as “the face of the new green generation”, Erin promotes global sustainability, youth leadership, environmental education and conscious life choices. An award-winning ecopreneur, 23-year-old Erin is the spokeperson for top organic recycled brands, US Ambassador to One Young World, and as the White House said, “a dynamic, passionate and ambitious young woman committed to creating big change everywhere she goes.”
In the luncheon conversation, she discussed the need for people to become more conscious consumers, and how important it is to read the labels on products and understand what they are using.
“We are all consumers, so buy better, and buy smarter,” she said.
Two concurrent dialogues then ensued to conclude the proceedings, one of which dealt with the topic of being “Eco Tech Savvy”. Schrode returned to feature on the panel, accompanied by Professor Dr Chong Wee Fong, the General Manager of AEC Sdn Bhd and Gary Lim, the Founder of Kin-ethics, with Delwin Keasberry, the Commercial and Prosperity Manager at the British High Commission as moderator.
This session focused on what an ecologically smart lifestyle actually means, how everyday technologies can help the environment and what smart apps can be used to change the way we use energy and save money.
The second dialogue focused on waste management in Brunei, and how it can be a business opportunities. Edwin Khew featured once more, this time with Hj Shaharuddin Khairul Hj Anuar, the Acting Deputy Director of the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation and Jeffrey Hung.
Moderated by Ruey Chong Narcis, the Area Governor of the Toastmasters International Club, the panel discussed strategies to increase waste reduction, as well as how different stakeholders work together to create a zero waste future and how waste management can bring in economic benefits to Brunei.
The conference was organised by Asia Inc Forum in partnership with Total E&P Borneo BV, Butra Heidelberg Cement, Baiduri Bank and Brunei Press, with the support of the Ministry of Development, Ministry of Education and the Embassy of the United States of America in Brunei Darussalam.