eBKF6: Community-based Sustainability
The Institute of Social Informatics and Technological Innovations (ISITI) of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) is pleased to announce its sixth community-based research-showcasing event; the eBorneo Knowledge Fair – 2017. Previously known as the eBario Knowledge Fair, the eBorneo Knowledge Fair now encompasses multiple indigenous communities throughout Borneo, as well as other parts of Malaysia. The Knowledge Fair is run every other year to showcase the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for rural development. The event features the innovative use of technologies for sustained localized development and it offers opportunities for engagement and knowledge exchange between community members, researchers, government officials, private sector representatives and development professionals. This year the Fair is again hosted by the Ba'Kelalan community of northern Sarawak.
The world is now adopting the universally-agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and our theme for 2017 is Community-Based Sustainability. Being guided by SDG#15, which is to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests and halt biodiversity loss, we acknowledge that sustainable development and environmental protection go hand-in-hand; you can’t have one without the other. We further recognize that whilst Borneo accounts for just 1% of the world's land, it holds approximately 6% of global biodiversity, with an average of three new species being discovered each month. Moreover, governments and global agencies are now agreeing that the areas that are most impacted by climate change are those that are occupied by indigenous peoples. Ironically, whilst they contribute the least to the human causes of climate change, they suffer the most from its effects.
At the same time, it is becoming increasingly evident that the indigenous occupants of these areas are the most effective stewards of their environments and that the effectiveness of their continued stewardship is based on their ability to maintain their traditional and sustainable lifestyles. As unsustainable agricultural practices remain one of the greatest threats to ecosystems and biodiversity, Community-Based Sustainability sits at the heart of environmental protection.
Of course, this should not mean that rural communities should live in a carefully preserved time-bubble, or that the fruits of contemporary development should by-pass isolated indigenous peoples. Such citizens have the right to enjoy the development benefits that their urbanized compatriots take for granted, but they also deserve to progress on their own terms; to retain their lifestyles and cultures as they wish and to make informed choices within social and economic frameworks that see them as fully-fledged members of society, rather than marginalized minorities and barriers to development. This will be especially so because the rest of the world is beginning to acknowledge the value of indigenous knowledge in relation to climate change; that indigenous communities can become pro-active in sharing that knowledge and taking pride in their unique role as guardians of our environment and of our planet, the only one we have.
eBKF6 will therefore raise awareness, share local knowledge and stimulate interest and research into how rural, remote and indigenous communities regard sustainable living and sustainable development against the backdrop of international development trends and associated concerns regarding sustainability and climate change.