Understand the complexities of environmental concepts

Dr Chan addressing the symposium participants

Dr Chan addressing the symposium participants

Miri – 2 July 2010 – Miri is gearing up to become the first green city in the country and efforts are ongoing to make the dream a reality, according to Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam, who is also the state Minister of Tourism and Heritage and Minister of Industrial Development.

He related this when officiating at the first Miri Youth Green Symposium for secondary school students hosted by Curtin University of Technology, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak) at its campus here on Monday.

“I am pleased to see that Curtin Sarawak is very supportive of Miri City’s efforts in trying to create a new Malaysian record as the country’s first Green City,” commented Dr Chan, who is also the chairman of the Curtin Sarawak Council.

Also present were the Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Curtin Sarawak, Professor Ian Kerr, and senior university staff and academicians.

Dr Chan said the country needed young people and educators to come together to understand how best to co-exist with nature in a sustainable manner.

“The classroom is the best place to introduce topics such as pollution, conservation and ecology. I encourage teachers to take the initiative in bringing the outside world to the students, to build their foundational knowledge of such issues and concerns. It is often the awareness teachers instill in young children that helps them understand the complexities of environmental concepts and motivates them to adopt habits that help protect the environment,” said Dr Chan.

The symposum, organised by The Learning Centre of the university as part of its ongoing OutReach Programme initiatives, was held to commemorate Miri’s fifth anniversary as a resort city, as well as help raise awareness in young people of the role society has in preserving our natural environment and the efficient use of our natural resources.

It provided an opportunity for the participants to contribute innovative ideas to environmental issues such as climate change, nature conservation, energy, pollution, waste management and resource management, and conduct oral presentations of their opinions.

About 120 secondary school students from seven schools in Miri accompanied by their teachers took part.

Dr Chan remarked that only in Miri fish and trees in the jungle died of old age while in other parts of the world both fish and trees died young due to human greed.

“We still have blue sky, but in other parts of the world, people cannot see blue sky because of massive pollution. We do not want this to happen to our beloved country,” said Dr Chan.

“Young Malaysians should take the lead in informing society to be more environmentally friendly and work hand-in-hand with school authorities, government agencies and non-government agencies to make their cities and towns cleaner and more energy-efficient,” he added.

Dr George Chan and Professor Kerr (7th and 8th from left, front row) with senior academicians and symposium participants.

Meanwhile, Professor Kerr said one of the strategic priorities of Curtin Sarawak for 2010 was to advocate ‘going green’ initiatives and to promote energy efficiency processes at the university.

“We are pleased to work with the Miri City Council and the Miri community in supporting their green efforts and are committed towards developing a culture of conservation at the university and promoting sustainable systems among our students and staff,” he said.

“This symposium today will provide an avenue for students from Miri to engage in conversation on a range of topics, from understanding environmental issues, to managing and using resources competently. More importantly, their views will be shared with the community at large, and this is, I believe, a great preparatory step,” added Professor Kerr.

“We may not be able to reduce global warming, or save endangered species on our own, but together we can show the community how to make choices in our daily lives that are earth-friendly. Students can champion activities in their schools to show that ‘Reduce’, ‘Reuse’ and ‘Recycle’ are not just catch phrases,” he concluded.

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