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Fellows Begin Building a Community for the Asia They Want

First session in new multi-year series sees Fellows leave with a renewed optimism for their region

Fellows of the inaugural session of the new series The Asia We Want: Building Community Through Regional Cooperation

Fellows of the inaugural session of the new series The Asia We Want: Building Community Through Regional Cooperation

Tomas De La Rosa | 09.11.2017

The first session of new multi-year series The Asia We Want: Building Community Through Regional Cooperation ended in decisive manner with representatives from 14 countries committing themselves to continue working for a greener and more sustainable Asia.

Throughout the four days of the session, A Clean and Green Asia, 30 of the region’s rising leaders in environmental development, green technology, and sustainability policy discussed how to ensure a low-carbon and more sustainable future, which would harmonizes with both nature and the fast-growing urban development the region has experienced in the last 20 years.

As part of the session’s final plenary discussion, participants shared how the session has provided them with the tools to face some of the challenges they face at work on a daily basis. One participant said the session had allowed them to be more mindful of the variety of ways in which communities are affected by similar environmental issues. Another said they were going back to work with a renewed sense of commitment to engage with more people with differing points of view.

Participants also expressed hope that the network established in Salzburg will keep them connected, with a reunion planned in six months in order to share the various practices that have enabled their respective projects and organizations to be successful. Through this, they hope to establish common goals and frameworks that allowed them to remain on the same page.

During the session, the participants took part in skills-building workshops focused on working with policy and decision-makers, how to promote regional collaboration, entrepreneurial thinking, and public engagement. Through these workshops, participants were given tools to become effective agents of change in their respective fields and countries. The four workshops addressed different environmental issues that affect local communities across Asia, and how private and public sectors can collaborate to develop country partnerships in the region. Discussion topics included how to achieve low carbon societies, how small-sized climate projects can gain access to proper financing, how communities can play a more impactful role in ensuring waste management is done responsibly, and how regional collaboration is essential to solve the urgent issue of widespread air pollution.

Toward the session’s conclusion, and as part of the efforts to incentivize collaboration, many made open invitations for fellow participants to come visit communities in different countries in Asia that are affected by some of the issues discussed in the session. These visits would allow them to have firsthand experience of these issues, as well as gain new a perspective on the various effects these have across the Asia region.

Session co-facilitator Niall O’Connor described the four-day session as a first step for the subject and “a platform to establish relationships.” For him, the fact that four days did not allow for enough in-depth discussion was an advantage for the long-term value of the multi-year program as it encourages participants to remain connected in order to foster cooperation in Asia.

The Asia We Want: Building Community Through Regional Cooperation I - A Clean and Green Asia is the first session of a new multi-year series held in partnership with the Japan Foundation

Tomas De La Rosa