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National Environment Conference 2011

The 4th National Environment Conference (NEC) 2011 took place yesterday at the Rizqun International Hotel. It was organised by Asia Inc Forum in partnership with Alcoa, Butra HeidelbergCement, Total E&P and HSBC, and with the support from Borneo Bulletin and Media Permata. NEC is the country’s premier and largest conference on environmental economic sustainability.

Themed ‘Green Brunei: New Ideas for a Sustainable Country’, the conference aimed to provide a platform for engaging the public and private sectors on the issues of environmental stewardship, natural resources management and green business for a sustainable future.

Yesterday’s morning session began with the opening keynote address by guest of honour, Minister of Development Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Suyoi bin Hj Osman.

It was followed by a session on marine biodiversity that looked at how Brunei can develop its marine resources in an environmentally and economically sustainable way.

This session also saw a short presentation by founder of The Shark Guardian, Brendon Sing.

The presentation was followed by an open forum discussion with Director of Public Strategy and Business Development Far East, Alcoa Global Primary Products GEBA, Wade Hughes and Rizan Latif, President of Beach Bunch.

The minister also officiated the opening of the event’s Green Exhibition 2011 and toured around the participating booths which include Brunei Press Sdn Bhd, HSBC, Department of Agriculture and Agrifood as well as secondary schools.

Among others that were also present at the event were Permanent Secretaries at the Ministry of Development, Hj Mohd Rozan bin Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Yunos (Administration and Finance) and Hj Suhaimi bin Hj Gafar (Technical and Professional) and Deputy Permanent Secretary Awg Eddy Dato Paduka Hj Sunny.

The second session of the NEC was about Brunei’s preparedness for disasters.

Taking into account Brunei’s geographical location, which is within a disaster-prone region, Brunei residents should be considered fortunate as disastrous circumstances rarely or never hit Brunei, unlike neighbouring countries prone to major naturaal disasters such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

For the last four years, Brunei has been hit only by a few major flooding and landslides but this does not mean that the authorities are complacent.

Awg Yahya Hj Abdul Rahman, Director of Fire and Rescue Department, made this observation during the discussion.

The open-forum discussion on the topic "Responding to Disasters: How ready is Brunei?" also featured Paul Booley, Senior Consultant from CW international who discussed on disasters that may occur in the oil and gas industry, citing that the inherently hazardous business which needs to have solid emergency response systems.

The forum was moderated by Rozana Yunos, Resource Lead, BAG Networks. To answer the question on Brunei’s preparedness, Yahya said there is no specific answer for that because there is no exact way to measure our readiness. "It is a continuous process and our approaches over the years have evolved and changed for the better.

"The Disaster Management Order was enacted back in 2006 which also provisioned for the formation of the National Disaster Management Centre the same year… acting as a frontline coordination centre comprising of multi-sectored agencies from the government, private agencies and the community at ground levels, utilising an incident management system, to be prepared and responsive in handling any scale of disasters, towards building up resilience in our community by partnerships and close cooperation with stakeholders."

Earlier, Tony A Murphy, Executive Advisor-Operations & Interoperability, Fire Services Commissioner, Australia shared his insights, focusing on the preparedness of his country in handling fire incidents and also shared their disaster management system, strategies and efforts.

The session was held to discuss the readiness of Brunei in mitigating the threat of disasters.

Recent natural disasters such as in Japan have focused attention on national preparedness.

It was also aimed at discussing Brunei’s resilience in preparedness, to .find out if natural disaster is more prevalent than industrial disaster, finding ways to best mitigate natural disasters and what we can learn from the experiences from other countries and also discussing on facilities we can put in place to increase our ability to respond effectively.--courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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