Thursday, 4 June 2009

Sustainable Solutions From Different Perspectives

For 3 days in a row, we received loads of speakers to discuss with us about their works in their organisations respectively. Those speakers came from different discipline, backgrounds and fields of works namely the sciences, private sector, policy makers, NGOs, government programs and UH students. Among of the distinctive speakers are Senator J. Kalani English, the Hawaii State Senator from Maui and several other Representatives and Senators from Hawaii. The politicians talked about their contributions on passing the Hawaii Sustainablity 2050 Plan which emphasises on self-sufficiency, cultural values particularly the traditional Native Hawaiian culture, bottom-up approach and others. Other than that, they also had laid out the Hawaii Clean Energy Future which is a roadmap towards 70% of clean energy dependency by 2030.

We also got the chance to meet several of the planners who work on environmental issues such as Environmental Impact Study (EAS)/Environmental Assessment (EA) and solutions to reducing GHGs emission from consultants and the university. There are significant differences between the speaker from the university and the consultants who are practicing. The university talked more on theoretical and their research wherelse the practicing consultants talk more on their expereinces which are very interesting and sometimes controversy. The questions now is how can the practicing consultants use the knowledges and research from the university in their project and how far can they colloborate with each other to find new appropriate concepts and solutions. Anyway, this is not the case for the discussions that we had because they talk on different subjects. One of the consulants talked on the watershed and sea level rising while the professor from the university talked on the GHGs reduction.

Among the speakers from the private sectors are Ed Kenney, owner of Town Restaurant; Gary Forth-Maunakea, MA'O Farm, Pete Cooper, Better Place; and Bob King, Pacific Biodiesel. Ed Kenney's restaurant serve organic foods with the motto of "Local first, organic whenever possible, and with aloha always". He spent a year backpacking the globe including in Malaysia. We actually went to his restaurant for dinner, the food is quite different from what we usually have. Gary on the other hand operates an organic farm on the island. He supply the organic foods to local shops and restaurants without middleman so that the price will not get too expensive. Ed also get his supplies from Gary's farm. Bob King is a businessman of organic fuel. One of the sources of his organic comes from restaurants used cooking oil including from Ed's restaurant. So, it is amazing to know how the system works where we never expected that a fuel company will get their resources from local restaurants. Peter Cooper on the other hand is from the organisation called Better Place, an electric vehicle service company that is building electric vehicle recharge networks around he world.

There are dozens more speakers that had came to talked with us on their projects and I found it very useful and an eye-opening. We learned so many things and gain new ideas which makes us continue thinking on how to apply what we had heard here to our country wherever appropriate. Apart from the invited speakers, we also joined into a social event called green drinks where we met a lot more green passionate people from Hawaii and expand our networking there. We also had a dinner and roundtable discussion with sudents from East-West Center, UH Environmental Studies and UH Sustainable Saunders and exchanged ideas and experiences of their environmental movemen in campus. This is very interesting as UTM still does not have any environmental movement in campus and I am planning to initiate it. There was also one interesting session on how to communicate with the media which was given by Derek Ferrar, EWC Media Relations Specialist. The 3 days roundtable discussions with various people from different backgrounds and disciplines really does interest me and benefited me a lot.

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