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30 May, Bangkok: policy-makers and scientists from across the Asia-Pacific gathered for the SEI Science Forum to share ideas and propose solutions to Asia’s urgent environmental challenges.
Co-hosted by Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University, SEI’s Science Forum 2017 brought together 120 invited guests and more than 80 SEI researchers to share insights and solutions on topics critical to sustainable development in Asia – from the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement to gender equality, disaster risk reduction, and urbanization.
Among the speakers and panelists, SEI was delighted to welcome: Dr. Wijarn Simachaya, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), Thailand; Prof. Bundhit Eua-arporn, President, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, and Ms Khaing Khim, Deputy Director General of Fisheries Administration, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), Cambodia.
Joining them was Ms. Anne-Charlotte Malm, Head of Development Cooperation, Embassy of Sweden; Dr. Stefanos Fotiou, Director of Environment and Development, UN ESCAP; Kerstin Niblaeus, Chair of the SEI Board, the SEI Executive Director, Johan L. Kuylenstierna, and SEI Asia’s Centre Director Niall O’Connor.
Summary of the programme
The opening session of the Science Forum titled “Enhancing science for policy: Towards an equitable, resilient and sustainable future for all” explored how science can better support policy and decision-making to achieve more equitable, resilient and sustainable societies in Asia. This year, SEI reseachers also presented their work in Asia on urbanization, water management, energy and agriculture.
Three thematic sessions explored key international agreements and their implications for Asia. The thematic sessions looked at the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and opportunities for gender and social equity in the Mekong Region; the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the role of research in its implementation; and, the Paris Climate Change Agreement (link to the full agenda).
While looking closely at how evidence-based science and policy can work together to address critical environmental challenges in Asia, the Science Forum also firms up SEI’s commitment to work with universities.
SEI’s Asia Centre is already a close partner of Chulalongkorn University, one of Thailand’s leading universities, which this year is celebrating its 100th anniversary. During the Science Forum, SEI signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Chulalongkorn University to take forward this growing and productive partnership.
With the MoU, SEI aims to develop new and innovative research agendas to support the challenges facing Asia, to share in work to bridge the science and policy gap, and ensure the right data supports decision makers. SEI will also provide support with staff as guest lecturers and to supervise post-graduate students to develop their skills. SEI will aim to host critical debates and raise the profile of the many environment and social issues using public forums, to build increased environmental awareness in society.
“I see this as an incredible opportunity to link our key research and policy partners, to explore how relevant our strategy is for today and the future challenges we will face in Asia, and to co-develop our future work agenda. The opportunity to bring so many of our SEI scientists, to meet, get to know and work together with our regional scientists, including our colleagues within Chulalongkorn University, is very exciting,” said Niall O’Connor, Centre Director of SEI Asia.
“SEI’s strength, as a global environmental think tank, is due to our partnerships with so many incredible organisations and governments. While we have done a lot together, I hope at the forum, we can further define the challenges for us to address in the future, to bring about a prosperous and sustainable future for all”, he added.