| James Kon |
TWO senior officers from the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR), who recently returned from a two-week visit to the United States after attending the International Visitor Leadership Project “Environment in the Pacific Basin”, were impressed by the high level of volunteerism shown by US citizens in helping to protect and conserve the natural environment.
The project, which was held from July 14 to August 1, provided opportunities for Dayang Haktu Anak Mabong, Senior Forestry Officer, and Dayang Desimawati Metali, Head of Marine Biodiversity Centre, to gain an understanding of community-based environmental protection efforts involving government and non-government partnership as well as to meet with organisations which specialise in environmental education.
“I am impressed by the high level commitment to volunteerism in the United States. Although there may be a lack of enforcement for environment protection, the volunteers play a crucial role in helping the authorities to protect the environment,” said Dayang Desimawati Metali. “It will be very good if we have that kind of commitment from Bruneians. It is high time for everyone in the country to be responsible in protecting the environment, instead of relying solely on the government.”
The Head of Marine Biodiversity Centre felt that NGOs could further be proactive in developing awareness and programmes to encourage volunteerism.
Dayang Haktu Anak Mabong highlighted that the youth from Village Consultative Council in Brunei have carried out activities such as cleaning campaigns to help protect the environment.
Both ladies agreed that there are enormous opportunities for collaborations as well as researches in the field of marine as well as forestry fields. Further development in the field of enviromental protection can be enhanced by bringing in experts from the United States to share their experiences and expertise with Brunei stakeholders.
While in the US, the officials from MIPR went to Washington DC to visit the Blair Native Plant Garden, Woodland Sanctuary, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and US Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management. They also observed the River Watershed Clean-up educational programmes for urban areas.
In New Orleans, Louisiana, the delegation visited Tulane School of Law to understand the laws and politics of water sustainability throughout the New Orleans areas. They also visited the Honey Island Swamp, Louisiana State University, Louisiana Environmental Action Network, Tulane/Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research and Louisiana Green Corps.
While in California, Dayang Desimawati Metali and Dayang Haktu Anak Mabong visited the Channel Islands National Park, Simi Valley Landfill and Recycling Center, Santa Cruz Island, Anza Borrego Desert State Park and City of San Diego’s Environmental Services Department. In Hawaii, the group observed the Hawaii coral reef initiatives research programme and visited the Division of Forestry and Wildlife.