The theme of the 17th International School Brunei Borneo Global Issues Conference (ISB BGIC) 2021 ‘Sustainable Development Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities’ is highly relevant and fitting for youth dialogue and engagement as the global community continues to face serious threats and witness the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on almost all aspects of lives.
Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah binti Pengiran Haji Salleh Ab Rahaman highlighted this in a sabda during the launch of the 17th ISB BGIC 2021 at the International Convention Centre (ICC) yesterday.
Her Royal Highness said the pandemic’s repercussion on humanity, healthcare, economic stability, food systems, education, mental and physical well-being has been unprecedented.
“In the face of these new challenges, world leaders are working tirelessly to adapt and innovate in ensuring continuity of normal life as much as possible,” said Her Royal Highness.
“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 alongside fellow ASEAN member states continue to work collaboratively to combat challenges presented by this global pandemic, through active sharing of strategies and good practices that benefit their citizens.”
Brunei Darussalam’s ASEAN Chairmanship this year, themed ‘We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper’, is a culmination of commitments to find ways in safeguarding the well-being and livelihoods of people in post-pandemic recovery plans and for continued regional peace and stability, Her Royal Highness added.
“Indeed, these efforts are consistent with ISB BGIC’s theme this year, where the focus is on addressing inequality in the face of deepening crisis, whether that means improving access to social welfare, quality health services or education systems. Lack of accessibility only serves to further exacerbate social inequality,” said Her Royal Highness.
Her Royal Highness added, the failure to adapt and innovate education continuity for children and young people will have a severe impact, particularly for countries with already low learning outcomes, low resilience to shock and inadequate infrastructure to resist and rebuild, adding that the growing ‘digital divide’ within and among countries globally has never been more stark than in the current context of global COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is an urgency for all countries to improve accessibility to good-quality Internet connections, as well as hardware such as computers as the world is forced to work and study from home,” said Her Royal Highness. “This ‘lost generation’ can result in significant loss in human capital, and in turn, vital economic opportunities for any nation.”
Her Royal Highness said the situation poses challenges as well as new opportunities including opportunities to advocate and create more inclusive, equitable systems that can promote a high quality of life for all people, as the youth are well placed as important agents of change.
“It is here that ISB BGIC provides a platform for our youth to engage in dialogue and debate resolutions, to produce policies advocating more inclusive and equitable systems, at the same time mitigating the negative impacts of COVID-19 across every aspect of human life,” said Her Royal Highness.
Wiser leaders, added Her Royal Highness, critically consider different ideas and perspectives to produce peaceful and workable solutions, and likewise, ISB BGIC encourages strong and diverse partnerships which strive for mutually respectful and peaceful collaborations.
“I urge our young people to look to our ASEAN and community leaders as examples of impactful leadership and strong collaboration,” said Her Royal Highness. “I hope all young delegates here today understand that this crucial exercise they are undertaking now at ISB BGIC is an important part of their preparation for their future lives at university and work.”
Her Royal Highness said the conference led by students for students is a testament to the contributions and generous support of participating schools, organisers, teachers, speakers, sponsors and supporters, demonstrating their renowned “Bruneian heart” and combined community care in nurturing and empowering youth voice, youth engagement and youth action.
“I am confident that ISB’s well-received conference will prove to be a great success and I wish you all the best in your deliberations and debates,” added Her Royal Highness prior to launching the 17th ISB BGIC.