At the opening of the academic year at the University of Groningen (UG), Rector Elmer Sterken, spoke earnestly about the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In the historic Martini church and symbol for the city of Groningen, he projected the 17 Global Goals which the international community has committed to achieving by 2030. These goals incorporate a wide range of social and economic goals, like eliminating hunger and poverty, access to quality health care, and reducing income inequality, as well as environmental and climate change goals.
The university has made a commitment to study and research these global goals as part of its ‘sustainable society’ focal point, alongside its two other research focal points, healthy ageing and energy transition. The University encourages such research in the Netherlands and the northern provinces, as well as internationally. In fact, there is an on-going international comparative research led by the University of Groningen, on challenges of governance in Southeast Asia and national and regional approaches to the sustainable development goals.
A major conference is organized in Brussels for 29 - 31 October 2018, designed to have high social impact by bringing scholars from UG and partner universities across the region together with policymakers from the European Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the United Nations, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (UN ESCAP). The conference is organized by the Groningen Research Centre for Southeast Asia and ASEAN (SEA ASEAN) and its director Prof. Ronald Holzhacker, in conjunction with its close partner Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
Participants in the conference include UG scholars from engaged faculties, including Spatial Sciences, Arts, Economics and Law. UG PhD candidates from Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam who are part of the SEA ASEAN research team on governance are also participating. Finally, a group of scholars from universities across Southeast Asia are coming, from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Brunei, the Philippines, and Indonesia. In addition, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders involved in the sustainable development goals have been invited.
The conference is titled ‘Challenges of Governance for Innovation, Resilience and Sustainability’ and is part of an EU – ASEAN dialogue looking toward the global goals 2030. Key note speakers from the EU include the highest official focused on Southeast Asia from the EU External Action Service (EEAS), International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO), and Research and Innovation (DG RTD). There is a visit planned to the European Parliament and a meeting with the Member of Parliament serving as the Rapporteur on EU – ASEAN relations. There are panel sessions organized on political-security cooperation, human rights, economics and business for social change, international cooperation in research, and smart urban planning. Festive dinners for networking will be hosted each evening of the conference, by the Permanent Representation of the Netherlands to the EU, Ambassador H.E. Mr. Robert de Groot, the Embassy of Indonesia to the EU, Ambassador H.E. Mr. Yuri Octavian Thamrin, and the Embassy of Singapore, Ambassador H.E. Mr. Jaya Ratnam.
The event will culminate on the final day with a double book launch. The book ‘Challenges of Governance, Development, and Regional Integration in Southeast Asia and ASEAN’ edited by Ronald Holzhacker and Wendy Tan, is to be published by the New York, US publisher, Springer. The book ‘Sustainable Development Goals in Southeast Asia and ASEAN: National and Regional Approaches,’ edited by Ronald Holzhacker and Dafri Agussalim, will be published in Singapore, Boston, and Leiden by the Dutch publisher Brill. Scholars from leading universities in all ten ASEAN countries have contributed to this volume.
This published scholarly research and the conference in Brussels are designed by the University of Groningen and its centre SEA ASEAN to widely share knowledge about governance and the implementation of the sustainable development goals. The focus is on multi-level governance and the importance of reaching down to the local level, where active input by citizens, NGOs, and other stakeholders can be encouraged to make progress with the international community to achieve the sustainable development goals by 2030.
Contact: Ron Holzhacker
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