Youth urged to meet emerging challenges with creative solutions

Lyna Mohamad

New challenges and uncertainties will be encountered when navigating through a new age of uncertainty in this new decade and it is vital that the momentum which has been established remains relevant and strategic, Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah binti Pengiran Haji Salleh Ab Rahaman said.

“I am pleased to see that the momentum has kept rolling into 2020, where more than ever, we are confronted with challenges and uncertainties. In light of this, we must respond with intelligent and strategic actions,” Her Royal Highness said in a sabda at the opening ceremony of the 16th International School Brunei (ISB) Borneo Global Issue Conference (BGIC) yesterday.

Her Royal Highness said she was pleased that ISB BGIC continues to remain a significant platform for the young to gather and address pressing global issues since it was first held 16 years ago.

Her Royal Highness welcomed this year’s theme ‘Youths Call for More Sustainable Cities and Communities’ which is fitting with the international commitments to the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals.

Her Royal Highness noted that Brunei Darussalam, like other member states of the UN, is equally committed to achieving these common goals through strategies and initiatives under the Brunei Vision 2035.

Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah binti Pengiran Haji Salleh Ab Rahaman delivers the sabda at the 16th International School Brunei Borneo Global Issues Conference. PHOTO: MUIZ MATDANI

“With no signs of the fast pace of urbanisation around the world slowing down, mega-cities look like they will become a fixture in future infrastructure developments and have changed the way of living today’s perception and expectations.

“The UN Development Programme stated more than half of the world’s population now lives in mega-cities, and it is believed that the figure will increase by 6.5 billion by 2050, marking two thirds of global population.

“With rapid urbanisation gaining momentum and with cities being under prepared, we see the devastating effects of overcrowding, rising economic inequality, high energy consumption and pollution,” Her Royal Highness said.

The inability to effectively manage the big influx of people will indefinitely lead to destructive and, often times, irreversible outcomes to societies and future generations. Many countries are considering Smart City initiatives as a viable strategy to curb this issue where this concept explores how technologies such as the Internet of Things and big data can be used to effectively manage public assets towards not just enhancing people’s quality of life, but to improve access, reduce traffic congestions, control pollution and improve energy efficiency.

“More importantly it can help minimise the negative effects of human consumption on the environment. The importance of smart and sustainable urban development has already been acknowledged by ASEAN leaders by establishing the ASEAN Smart Cities Network in April 2018 and through this, ASEAN member states can work together to improve urban living, with technology as the enabler,” Her Royal Highness added.

This allows member states to work together towards the common goal of smart and sustainable urban development for the people of ASEAN by leveraging on technology as the enabler. In line with this, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’s Government, through the Ministry of Home Affairs, has drawn up its own ‘Smart City Action Plan’.

This plan focusses on revitalising existing infrastructure in the capital, cleaning up rivers, improving access to community services including health and recreational facilities and at the same time encouraging entrepreneurial activities and promoting the local tourism industry, which Her Royal Highness added, potentially can bring about a positive impact.

“I am pleased to see that the 16th ISB BGIC has chosen a theme that considers the threats we are facing today, as well as the concerns that may affect our future. Our impulse is always to leave the world a better place for the next generation.”

Her Royal Highness urged the young people at the event, to use this platform to find their voice in this discussion and to continuously learn and engage, build valuable networks and use their new knowledge to create impactful solutions.

“As the leaders for tomorrow, the conference should not just be seen as the place to talk about the current issues faced, but a place to tolerate diverse views, to negotiate, and think critically.”

Her Royal Highness also conveyed her appreciation to the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports as the conference partner as well as key sponsors – Progresif Sdn Bhd, Baiduri Bank Berhad, and Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sdn Bhd.

“I would also like to thank all teachers, guest speakers and individuals present today for their active contributions and generous support, and for being instrumental to the success of ISB BGIC till this day.

“I am confident that this year’s conference will be yet another successful one, and I wish you all the best in your deliberations and debate,” Her Royal Highness said.