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Transforming exploitative land-based economy for sustainability: What options do we have?

Event Type: 
Seminar
Event Date: 
30 October 2018 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Venue: 
ASE 3-D Visualization Lab (N2-B1c-16c)
Speaker: 
Dr Goh Chun Sheng
About the speaker: 

Chun Sheng Goh specialised in sustainability issues related to developing the bio-economy with research and working experience in Europe, Southeast Asia and Japan. He obtained his Master degree in Chemical Engineering with a thesis on the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass in 2011. In the next five years, he worked as a researcher at Utrecht University, focusing on topics related to bio-economy, particularly on international trade, land-use and carbon impacts. Two notable projects are ‘Monitoring of biomass and bioenergy trade flows in the Netherlands’ with Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and ‘Large-scale Investments in Food, Fibre, and Energy (LIFFE) Options for the Poor’ with Centre of International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Meanwhile, he also played the role as Secretary of IEA Bioenergy Task 40, an international working group with the theme of ‘Sustainable international bio-energy trade’. In 2016-2017, he worked at Agensi Inovasi Malaysia, responsible for the execution of National Biomass Strategy 2020. He received his Ph.D. degree from Utrecht University in May 2017 with the dissertation "Monitoring the bio-economy: Assessing local and global biomass flows, land-use change, carbon impacts and future land resources".
 
Since 2017, Chun Sheng moved to Tokyo as a postdoctoral fellow at United Nations University, conducting research on bio-economy/eco-economy development in Borneo and Japan. He manages and teaches in postgraduate courses and supports the Editorial Office of ‘Sustainability Science’, a journal of Springer. Chun Sheng originally comes from Penang, Malaysia and speaks multiple languages.

About the event: 

Large-scale land exploitation to jumpstart backward economies is often accompanied by massive environmental impacts. The broad concepts of productivity-oriented ‘bio-economy’ and conservation-oriented ‘eco-economy’ were proposed to transform exploitative land-based economies. Taking cases in Borneo as examples, transformative options for more sustainable economic growths were explored. It was revealed that utility-based development options with wealth creation as the centre of policymaking are inadequate to repair the previous environmental damage. Likewise, options that prioritise restoration have shown limited contribution to economic growth as observed in the case of Borneo. The interconnected nature of economic productivity and conservation means that no single option is a perfect solution but a combination of them may produce a better outcome. However, the existence of multiple stakeholders with different interests and values means that an ‘optimal’ combination would be a result of political negotiations rather than scientific investigations. Reconciling economic development and conservation requires serious thinking of the suitability of the options in a wider canvas of reality – the perspectives, attitude and influencing power of the various actors.