HRH gives green light to Green Project

National 4 minutes, 4 seconds

BRUNEI-MUARA

UNIVERSITI Brunei Darussalam (UBD) is embarking on a series of environmentally-friendly initiatives under the umbrella of its "Green Project", launched yesterday by His Royal Highness Prince (Dr) Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, in his capacity as Pro-Chancellor of UBD.

His Royal Highness planted a tree in front of the Chancellor Hall, as a contribution to the Green Project, and toured a "Green Exposition", showcasing the green initiatives of nine private and public agencies, including the Forestry Department, Energy Division at the Prime Minister's Office and the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation.

Under the slogan of "UBD Can! Reduce, Reuse, Recycle", the project comprises several initiatives largely led by students and aimed at preserving the environment as well as instilling a "green" mindset within the university's population and the community at large.

"UBD needs to play its role in this issue and work closely with other agencies in educating its population on issues of global (concern), especially in safeguarding the environment, through responsible and appropriate means, for the good and importance of the future generation," UBD Vice Chancellor Dr Hj Zulkarnain Hj Hanafi said at the project launch.

Chairperson of the project's working committee, Dean of Students Dk Nurolaini Pg Hj Md Kifli told The Brunei Times that saving the environment has been recognised internationally as a major issue and UBD saw it as their responsibility to do their part.

"It's everyone's business. We as a higher (education) institution feel it is very important for us to also start inculcating the skills and knowledge in the students, who will be our future leaders," she said.

Dk Nurolaini said that the university envisioned the Green Project to be a long-term initiative not limited to seminars and workshops, but filtering through to almost every aspect of campus life.

She said it was a mostly student-led initiative, but since students stay about four years at university, the Student Affairs Section will be facilitating activities to ensure the project's sustainability.

As part of the project, a workshop on forest rehabilitation will take place on October 28. The workshop is part of an initiative to plant 100 trees in areas around UBD grounds that were ravaged by forest fires earlier this year. UBD was also working on promoting the use of bicycles on campus to reduce carbon emissions from motor transport, reducing the use of plastic bags and holding a "Sustainable Environment" poster competition. The Dean of Students also saw the possibility of assessing the university's paper usage and electrical consumption and taking the appropriate measures to reduce them.

Education Minister Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Lela Dato Setia Hj Abd Rahman Dato Seri Setia Hj Mohamed Taib lauded the university's efforts and noted that education was a major factor in fostering a "green" society. "For us in the ministry, we are very conscious of that and it's part of our curriculum to ensure that students are aware of the need to (sustain) the environment," he told reporters yesterday.

Pehin Dato Hj Abd Rahman explained that the Brunei's current population was fortunate as the country had an abundance in vegetation and forests. "We are quite lucky at this time. Everything is green. I think we have to ensure that this is what we have tomorrow for the generations to come, so it is in everybody's interest to ensure that we keep it that way," he said.

Under the project, the university's association for undergraduates (PMUBD) was charging patrons of its PMUBD Cafe 20 cents for plastic bags to discourage customers from using them. PMUBD's Head of Economy and Enterpreneurship Exco, Rahmalini "Linie" Hidayah Hj Abd Rahman said that the association was offering re-usable bags at $2 to $3 to be used instead.

She felt that it was more effective to change people's mindsets to "go green" on a small scale before moving to the wider community. "To me, it's better to start from the small community, to change the culture of the small community. Then (we can) teach school students and the people outside to discourage them from using plastic bags and go green and save the environment," Linie said. "We start small first, then we'll try to spread the word. We have to start small because it is really hard to change certain people's mindset. You have to go slow, that's why we have to start from UBD first and (then) ask others to start following us," she added.

At the project launch, His Royal Highness also officiated the opening of the 21st Convocation Festival at the university's Chancellor Hall. The three-week festival will continue until November 7 and will culminate with a Gala Night, featuring the finals of the "UBD's Got Talent" competition.

The Brunei Times