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Wubbo Ockels School for Energy and Climate News

Imagining ‘Transformative Futures’ for our World, Climate and Sustainable Development

15 March 2023

Our planet Earth and our World have increasingly urgent demands placed upon it. The planet is experiencing dramatic pressures from climate change, and our World faces on-going demands for sustainable development to raise living standards and assure the health and well-being of our societies.

Transformative Futures

The University of Groningen (UG), together with its close partners Gadjah Mada University (UGM) in Indonesia and Thammasat University (TU) in Thailand have organized the ‘Transformative Futures’ conference to take place 14 to 17 March 2023 in Bangkok. At the UG, the conference is organized by the Groningen Research Centre for Southeast Asia and ASEAN (SEA ASEAN), in cooperation with the Wubbo Ockels School of Energy and Climate. The conference focuses on climate change and sustainable development in major cities in Southeast Asia. In this context, it also focuses on the role of universities worldwide in the debate on how to pursue a more sustainable future, as the impact of climate change becomes increasingly apparent. This conference exemplifies the UG's commitment to increasing the social impact of research and engagement with our community at home and abroad.

Scientists and policymakers

Participating in the four-day conference are scientists and policymakers with diverse expertise from the Netherlands, Indonesia, and Thailand, joined also with experts from Singapore and Japan. The conference bridges senior and new generations of scholars, as well as change agents with different key roles in society - scholars, political leaders and practitioners. Core themes of the conference focus on implementation, city planning, governance challenges, climate change, the Sustainable Development Goals, and political perspectives toward leadership and building public support for climate response and sustainability. On the day of the conference held at the Netherlands Embassy to Thailand, the conference will be addressed by the Deputy Governor of Bangkok Metropolitan Area, Ms. Tavida Kamolvej, to be followed by a reception held by the Netherlands Ambassador Remco van Wijngaarden.

Focus on implementation

The conference is specifically interested in focusing attention on synergies in the implementation of the sustainable development and climate change agendas facing cities in Southeast Asia, including Jakarta and Bangkok. The conference expands the dialogue to focus on implementation, after an initial set of ground-breaking international agreements. These include the Paris Climate Accords and the periodic UN Climate Change Conferences (COP27, Egypt 2022), as well as the agreements on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) of the SDGs undertaken by nation-states.

In this conference, the universities and policymakers turn attention toward implementation at the city level to make the necessary urgent, substantial progress on climate adaptation and sustainable development. The implementation of climate adaptation measures and sustainable development occurs at various levels, including national, provincial and local governments in each state. These processes involve governments, public and private stakeholders, civil society organizations, and citizens. Shedding light on the intricate multi-level processes of implementation is crucial because ‘place specific context’ matters for the successful implementation of broad societal goals. The conference focuses on the context of implementation of climate adaptation and sustainable development in Southeast Asia and ASEAN, with a broad range of societies, cultures, and levels of economic development, including rapidly growing Middle-Income Countries (MICs) with democratic traditions.

Asian ambassadors in Groningen

On 22 February, UG President Jouke de Vries welcomed a group of Ambassadors and embassy officials from ASEAN countries, including Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand, for a reception and the opportunity to address the university community in talks held in the Senaatszaal in the Academy Building. The hall was full, and the event served as a festive send-off for the scholars and PhD candidates who will be presenting their research at the upcoming conference in Bangkok.

More information about the hybrid conference is available at: .
Last modified:09 June 2023 2.52 p.m.

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