RSIS Centre for NTS Studies' Year in Review 2012
RSIS Centre for NTS Studies’ Year in Review 2012

Think saving the planet is that easy? Think again.

If trying to understand the complex interactions between sciences, economics, culture, politics, security and global/regional frameworks is just not working for you and you’re close to giving up, then check this out.

For the fourth year running, the RSIS Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies has released its Year in Review (2012). The Year in Review provides a snapshot of dominant NTS events/issues in 2012, particularly affecting the Asia-Pacific region.

This year’s publication focuses on the role of institutions in NTS and its feature article is on developments in Myanmar. Articles following that are based on the 5 themes: Climate, Energy, Food, Health and Water. The publication also includes a summary of activities and publications produced by the centre in 2012.

To view the report [in pdf], click here.

Green Bush Buds. Wow!

Ok, so I didn’t think I’d join Facebook, but I did.

I didn’t think I’d get an iPhone, but I did.

I didn’t think I’d join Twitter, but I did end up being a Twit.

But hey! It ain’t that bad after all.

And thanks to the geniuses behind paper.li, I’ve got my very own newspaper (of sorts).

Presenting GREEN BUSH BUDS –  a compilation of my favourite green news sources, people and organisations (on Twitter) who have something worthy to say about the environment. Check out the occassional youtube videos and pictures that come along with it too.

Some of the notable sources for Green Bush Buds include Green Prophet, World Resources Institute, IUCN, and the Environment/Green sections of notable newspapers such as CNN, the Guardian and Bikya Masr.

And the best part: a subscription function!

So what are u waiting for? Subscribe now! 🙂

OK, so its been 3 months since the last blog post. Indeed, there has been quite a bit of activity, especially on TheGreenBush’s Twitter Account. I had never thought I would have been a fan of New Media, but it can be quite addictive… and also quite useful. Its increasingly becoming an important part of work and play. Here’s a slice of some highlights (related to the environment scene in Singapore).

 

1) Satu Hari Di Hari Raya

http://twitter.com/#!/TheGreenBush/status/24253153799

 

2) The Inaugural Singapore Global Dialogue by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), NTU

http://twitter.com/#!/TheGreenBush/status/25383243056

http://twitter.com/#!/TheGreenBush/status/25387992518

 

3) The HAZE cometh… again!

In terms of catching a flight back to Singapore, turned out that Paris strikes was not the only thing to be anxious about.

http://twitter.com/#!/TheGreenBush/status/28392075066

http://twitter.com/#!/thejakartaglobe/status/28578499385

http://twitter.com/#!/thejakartaglobe/status/28719842267

http://twitter.com/#!/eco_singapore/status/28906478981

 

4) Finally made my way to Green Drinks after months!

http://twitter.com/#!/TheGreenBush/status/29003171869

Great conversation, and so looking forward to working with Olivia on a Green Drinks session on spirituality. Akan datang!

A lot more to look forward to and definitely a life that is far from boring. Kids who suggest that they don’t have anything to look forward to in Singapore, or are just so fixated on grades, clearly have not learned to live life to the fullest. A simple act of getting out of their comfort zone, would be a great start of doing them (and society in general) a whole lot of good.

Good luck Kids, the real world awaits you, whether you’re prepared or not.


Yay… so things are moving along amongst scholars in furthering the discussion – and more importantly action – on increasing enviromental awareness amongst Muslims world wide.  At a recent Conference on Islam and Climate Change in Bogor, Indonesia, Muslim scholars from about 15 countries worldwide noted the importance of increasing awareness on climate change amongst Muslim communities.

Several things were discussed, primarily climate change prevention via education, as well as learning from best practices of existing environmental NGOs and faith-based groups (eg. ECO-Pesantrens in Indonesia), and taking steps to “green” the annual hajj. There were also suggestions of establishing the cities of Bogor (Indonesia), Madinah (Saudi Arabia), Sale (Morrocco) and Sanaa (Yemen) as Green Cities (Al Khair). While this all sounds pretty fine and dandy, it would be interesting to see how this would actually materialize.

There has been interest from several Singaporeans and myself on the developments of this conference. Unfortunately, we didn’t quite have the chance to participate, but nevertheless we are certain that this is a start of many more activities to come.

Media reports on the event….

Muslim world to promote ‘green haj’ concept, The Jakarta Post, 6 April 2010

Bogor, Madinah, Sale, Sanaa Jadi Green City, KOMPAS, 6 April 2010

Muslim leaders and prevention of environmental disasaters, The Jakarta Post, 9 April 2010

Dunia Islam harus atasi perubahan iklim, BBC Indonesia, 10 April 2010

Muslim leaders told to confront climate crisis, The Jakarta Post, 11 April 2010

Int`l muslim conference on climate change issues Bogor Declaration, Antara News, 11 April 2010

Ok so clearly there’s been a certain degree of tardiness in my blog postings for the past few months. But hey, what can I say… its been a pretty busy period.

Back on the scene, after submitting my Masters dissertation today – entitled Democracies and Effective Climate Change Mitigation – An Indonesian Case Study. Like any post-graduate course – what more working at the same time – it has been an excruciating experience but nevertheless a big relief off me after handing over those 2 soft-bound copies across the Graduate Students Office’s reception counter.  *PHEWWW!….. (for now..)*

The rationale for the topic was simple. Literature on Democracies seem to suggest that democratic states have the best political system to address environmental problems as they allow for multi-stakeholder participation, a freedom of information and association and accountability. Yet, with this back drop, why is it then that the leading democratic countries still fail to address global climate change? The US, which is the bastion of liberal democracy, is ironically the biggest carbon emitter and has not signed the Kyoto Protocol. Several European states also falter in meeting their carbon emission targets, and this is further exacerbated by the issues of carbon leakage from EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme.

More importantly, what does mean for young democracies in the developing world – many of which have already been struggling to adapt to the new circumstances that come with democratisation. Can these young democracies withstand the pressures of democratisation, economic development and environmentalism? The Indonesian case study is significant for future research and policy implications given the fact that not only is Indonesia a young democracy in the developing world, it is also considered the 3rd largest carbon emitter in the world (when emissions from degradation is included). Moreover, the need to conserve their forests is all the more vital as global carbon sinks – as seen by the big chunks of funding being pumped in to support REDD projects across the archipelago.

I must say it has been challenging putting this paper together… something so theoretical such as democracy, and something so technical like climate change mitigation.

Below are some sources which found fascinating and definitely worth referring to for future research and policy deliberations.

Battig, M. & Bernauer, T. 2009, National Institutions and Global Public Goods: Are Democracies More Cooperative in Climate Change Policy?, International Organization, Vol. 63, pp. 281 – 308 (available in pdf)

Barr, C., Dermawan, A., Purnomo, H., & Komarudin, H. 2010, Financial governance and Indonesia’s Reforestation Fund during the Soeharto and post-Suharto periods, 1989-2009: A political economic analysis of lessons for REDD+, CIFOR Occasional paper 52, Center for International Forestry Research

Nomura, Ko, 2007, Democratisation and Environmental Non-governmental Organisations in Indonesia, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 37, No. 4, pp. 495 – 517

Payne, R. 1995, Freedom and the Environment, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 6, No.3, pp. 41-55

Walker, Peter A. 1999, Democracy and environment: congruencies and contradictions in southern Africa, Political Geography, Vol. 18, Issue 3, pp. 257-284

going350logo

So its finally happening! An event not only to commemorate International Day of Climate Action, but also to kickstart a process of reflection and action amongst Muslims on issues relating to the environment.

When? 1.30pm – 4 pm on 24 October 2009. Where? Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) Auditorium , 1 Pasir Ris Drive 4, Singapore. Why? Because being green is not just a fad. Its a way of life.

Put simply, the environment is accorded reverence and respect in Islam. It’s among Allah’s marvelous master pieces. About 750 verses in the Holy Quran alluded to the many tangible and intangible benefits Man derives from it. Thus Man has a moral obligation to, not only appreciate, and sustain Allah’s blessings.

However, Muslim circles have not paid sufficient attention to environmental issues – especially in light of pertinent contemporary challenges such as climate change, and water, food and energy security.Environmental awareness amongst Muslims is low and while there may be various Muslim individuals that care for the environment, there seemsto be a lack of concerted efforts by Muslims as a community.

There is hence a need advocate for a greater sense of environmental awareness and action amongst Muslims – to complement and parallel national and global efforts as well as provide a basis of understanding Islam holistically amongst Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

This event seeks to bring together Islamic scholars, environmentalists and the wider public to further understand the various facets of environmental issues and thereby motivate them to take action – no matter how big or small – for a more sustainable future. The event will feature a panel discussion with the following speakers:

  • “The Environment in Islam” by Ustaz Firdaus Yahya Vice President, PERGAS & Director, Darul Huffaz
  • “Muslim Environmental Groups at Work” by Ms. Siobhan Irving, Anthropologist
  • “Championing Environmentalism” by Ms Nur Amira Abdul Karim, ECO-Singapore Representative at COP15.

This will be followed by a video conference with  Mr Wilson Ang, President of ECO-Singapore. Wilson will be joining us from Sweden, while he participates in other 350-related events there, and give us his thoughts on the way forward for the environmental movement in Singapore and globally.

Finally, we end off with some light refreshments (no red meat so as to reduce our consumption of natural resources) with the use of biodegradable utensils kindly sponsored by Olive Green.

We look forward to seeing you there. Kindly do RSVP to Shereen at shereen@amp.org.sg or visit our Facebook event page. And bring a friend or two, while you’re at it! 🙂

We would also like to encourage our participants to wear Blue or Green for the event.

This event is organised by the Young Association of Muslim Professionals (Young AMP) in Singapore with the cooperation and support of ECO-Singapore and Olive Green.

Click HERE  to view our flyer in pdf format. For directions to AMP @ Pasir Ris, click HERE to view a map in jpeg format.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens
can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
– Margaret Mead

How often do you get to meet someone who you’ve only admired and known about through books and the media? 28th August 2009 was one such day for me. I met Professor Emil Salim of Indonesia.

IMG_0641-200
With Prof Emil Salim

Though an unassuming man in his late 70s, Pak Emil’s vast experience as an Indonesian policy maker and international advisor is larger than life. My colleagues and I were delighted that he was able to accept our invitation for our Conference on Climate Insecurities, Human Security and Social Resillience. I was all the more ecstatic as I had the chance to conduct a brief interview with him after the Conference.

All eyes and ears were peeled as Pak Emil delivered his presentation on Sustainable development  full of passion, sincere frankness and a good dose of wit. I was inspired by Pak Emil’s visionary thinking as he reiterated phrases such as “this is the future” when discussing the prospects of renewable energy and other sustainable development measures.

Several points raised by Pak Emil resonated with themes that I had picked up during my study trip on the United States Institute on the Environment (USIE).* Firstly, he noted the need for greater inter-disciplinary studies, discussion and action so as to address complex issues on the environment in a holistic manner.

Secondly, he emphasized the role of those with technical backgrounds – in particular economists and engineers – as drivers and translators for effective sustainable development. “Getting the price right” and having a strong scientific foundation are essential to see the process through.

Thirdly, Pak Emil noted the power of ideas and critical importance of engaging the right people who can catalyse the process and thereby materialise these ideas.

Finally, a point that was clearly driven during the short interview I had with him, was his belief in the youth as being drivers of change for the future. His words of encouragement were indeed inspiring, and clearly highlighted the momentum available to sustain change in the Asian region, despite existing skepticism. Change can happen with the support of a sense of optimism and perseverance.

To play on the words of Alexander Wendt, “Change is what states and communities make of it”.

*To view my report on USIE in pdf format, please click here

In July, some 200 Muslim scholars gathered in Istanbul and formulated the first ever Muslim Climate Change Action Plan. This is indeed a milestone as it demonstrates a united front by the Muslim community in the need to be proactive in addressing contemporary global issues. 

Sheikh Ali Gomaa, The Grand Mufti of Egypt, speaking at the historic meeting in Istanbul.
Sheikh Ali Goma'a, The Grand Mufti of Egypt, speaking at the historic meeting in Istanbul.

However, I do have some reservations as to how this plan will play out. While the bulk of the plan does have significant initiatives to address climate change, one of it seemed to suggest that “Islamic environmental labels” should be created. Is this really necessary?

Global environmental standards, labels and mechanisms are already readily available; why then should “islamic” labels be used? Why waste our time inventing the wheel? This response is therefore inappropriate as it only serves further separate the Muslim community from the wider society. Moreover, creating more ‘islamic labels’ only serves to further emphasize rituals and rules, rather than a deeper and holistic understanding of islamic teachings on the environment.

It is only a matter of time till we see how this plan will materialize (if at all).

To view a related op-ed that I had written in 2007 on the role of the OIC, click the link below.

Climate Change and the Muslim World: The OIC can do with Captain Planet