5th Asia Environment Lecture

From left: Associate Professor Yew Wen Shan (Deputy Chair of the Masters of Environmental Management (MEM) programme Management Committee), Dr Lau Siu Kit (MEM programme Management Committee), Associate Professor Roger Tan (Vice Dean at the Faculty of Science), Associate Professor Jolene Lin Shuwen (Co-Director of the Asia-Pacific Centre for Environmental Law (APCEL)), Ms Kirtida Mekani (MEM programme Advisory Committee), Professor Lam Khee Poh (Dean of the School of Design and Environment (SDE)), Ms Esther An (Chief Sustainability Officer of City Developments Limited), Associate Professor Sekhar Kondepudi (Director of the MEM programme), Ms Patricia Zurita (Speaker at the 5th Asia Environment Lecture); Associate Professor Lye Lin Heng ’73, (Chair of the Programme Management Committee for the MEM programme and Co-Director of APCEL); Professor Tommy Koh ’61 (Ambassador-at-Large and Chair of APCEL and MEM programme Advisory Committees), Mr Ronnie Tay (CEO of the National Environment Agency and member of MEM Advisory Committee), Associate Professor Kua Harn Wei (Assistant Dean and former representative for SDE, MEM programme), Associate Professor Matthias Roth (Deputy Director of the Bachelor of Environmental Studies (BES) programme), Mr Vinayagan Dharmarajah (Regional Director of Birdlife International Asia) and Associate Professor Edward Webb (Director of the BES programme)

The 5th Asia Environment Lecture (AEL) was jointly organised by the Asia-Pacific Centre for Environmental Law (APCEL) together with two degree programmes on the environment at NUS – the Masters of Environmental Management (MEM) programme and the Bachelor in Environmental Studies (BES), on 3 November 2017 at the NUS Bukit Timah Campus.

The lecture was co-hosted by City Developments Limited, a Singapore-listed international real estate company that advocates the development of sustainable living spaces, lives and communities, and the National Parks Board, a government agency which is dedicated and committed to providing and enhancing the greenery of Singapore.

The AEL series started in 2013 and since its inception, world leaders championing environmental sustainability have been invited to speak at the lecture to share their unique insights on environmental conservation and sustainability.

Ms Patricia Zurita, CEO of Birdlife International, presented the 2017 lecture on ‘Birds, Humans and our Sustainable Future’. Birdlife International is the world’s largest nature conservation partnership that strives to conserve the habitats and biodiversity of birds. As the widely recognised world leader in bird conservation, Birdlife International conducts field research on the ground for data to enable successful implementation of bird conservation programmes across national borders. There are some 120 Birdlife partners worldwide from 118 countries and the community is continuing to grow.

During her lecture, Ms Zurita focused on how birds and their migratory paths show us a common path to conservation and peace. Environmental habitats such as coasts, wetlands and grasslands are destroyed by land reclamation. Climate change is altering our landscape and weather in ways that can be difficult to predict. These conditions make it difficult for migratory birds to make their yearly journey across borders between their breeding and wintering grounds as the areas that they are able to rest and refuel are decreasing. As a result, many of the world’s migratory birds are in sharp decline. In order to save them from extinction, countries need to work together as there is little value in protecting birds in one country if they are doomed to die from exhaustion in the next. She argued that it is only by working together, across borders that we can effectively build and maintain a happy, healthy planet. Birdlife International is driven by this vision. People working for nature locally are brought together and connected nationally and internationally through the organisation to deliver huge positive impacts and long term conservation for the benefit of nature and people.

The lecture was attended by a diverse group of over 150 participants from NUS, environmental practitioners, activists, government officers, researchers, educators, faculty and students from other institutions.

The Q&A session that followed the lecture was chaired by Ambassador-at-Large Professor Tommy Koh ’61, who also chairs the Advisory Committees for APCEL and the MEM programme.

Q&A with Ms Patricia Zurita and Professor Tommy Koh ’61

Ms Patricia Zurita and Professor Tommy Koh ’61

The organisers gratefully acknowledge City Developments Limited, Singapore’s leading “green” developer, who has generously supported the AEL series since 2015.

Watch the lecture here.