Joining hands for a greener future

James Kon

British High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam Richard Lindsay, in commemorating World Environment Day, underscored the important roles that Brunei Government and local NGOs (non-governmental organisations) as well as the British High Commission played in preserving the environment in the country.

“World Environment Day is marked on June 5. This year, as we are adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic, we should reflect on the world around us and the wider impacts when humanity’s relationship with nature breaks down.

“As we look to recover from the pandemic, we have an opportunity to protect and restore our environment, reducing our exposure to both deadly viruses and climate impacts,” Lindsay said in his message yesterday.

The Brunei Government and NGOs, he said, “have been great drivers for change showing commitment to the environment. In 2011, the Ministry of Development launched the ‘No Plastic Bag Day’ campaign on weekends. It was impressive to see that by 2019, at the initiative of the government, participating stores and shops nationwide stopped using plastic carrier bags every day of the week.”

On the British High Commission’s efforts to raise awareness on the importance of environment preservation in the country, he said, “We try to play our part in addressing the devastating impacts that human activity is having on the environment.

“Last November, I ran the entire coastline of Brunei – 130km from Kuala Belait to Muara to raise awareness on the threats to the environment from plastic pollution and climate change.

“I had outstanding support and participation from the Royal Brunei Armed Forces and British Forces Brunei. We were overwhelmed by people’s generosity as we raised almost BND16,000 for the two causes we were supporting – Plastic Oceans United Kingdom (UK) and Society for the Management of Autism Related issues in Training, Education and Resources (SMARTER) Brunei.”

The High Commissioner said, “During those two long hot days on the beach, I had the immense privilege to immerse myself in Brunei’s spectacular natural environment and time to reflect on our collective responsibility to protect it. But addressing climate change, just like COVID-19, requires a shared and global approach.”

British High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam Richard Lindsay ran the entire coastline of Brunei last November to raise awareness on the threats to the environment from plastic pollution and climate change. PHOTO: AZIZ IDRIS

The UK, he explained, “is providing a leadership role in this global approach. We just announced that the United Nations (UN) Climate Conference (COP26), which we were due to host this year, will be in Glasgow in November 2021.”

To celebrate World Environment Day, UK Climate Champion Nigel Topping and Chilean Climate Champion Gonzalo Munoz launched the ‘Race to Zero’. It is a global campaign to mobilise leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions and investors towards achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

This sort of healthy, resilient, zero-carbon recovery will create jobs, unlock inclusive, sustainable growth and reduce the risk of future shocks.

In preparation for the COP26 Summit in Glasgow, Lindsay said, “We will start rebuilding the global economy from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We hope to focus these on supporting a clean, inclusive and resilient recovery building on the principles of the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We will work together with our international partners to ensure that the linked challenges of public health, climate change and biodiversity are addressed.

“We must embrace the opportunities offered by technology if we are to accelerate the transition to a cleaner future.

“Innovations in energy storage technologies, smart and no-waste electricity grids, zero-emission vehicles and eco-friendly buildings will become increasingly important.”

He pointed out, “The economic prize on offer is clear. Renewable energy sources such as solar and wind are already cheaper than coal in most countries.

“Earlier this week, a report from the International Renewable Energy Agency found that boosting investment in renewables would increase jobs in the sector to 42 million globally by 2050, four times more than today.

“As we recover from the coronavirus, the decisions we make today will determine whether we lay the foundations for sound, sustainable and inclusive growth, or whether we lock-in polluting emissions for decades and in doing so make our society and the planet
more vulnerable.

As the incoming Presidency of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UK will continue to press for much greater ambition around the world – more ambition to reduce emissions, more ambition to build resilience, and more ambition to cooperate and support each other.”