Climate change is now urgent. In order to make a difference, both technology, funding and management skills should be made available to communities, start-ups and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), who are at the forefront of climate action.
Speaking at the joint WOU-GIOAS (George Town Institute of Open and Advanced Studies) Conference on Climate Change on 29 January 2023, Tan Sri Andrew Sheng, GIOAS Chairman, said that the biggest difference on climate change can be made both inclusively and effectively through helping the many community-level people and NGOs in different parts of the world that are struggling with shortages of talent, funding and branding to work on environmental-friendly projects, such as reforestation, cleaning up of the water, and clearing air pollution. The availability of Wi-Fi and other technological tools will accelerate the capacity of these social enterprises to draw on deep knowledge to help projects and programmes in Malaysia at the ground level.
The conference attracted experts from Holland, United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Singapore and Malaysia. It reviewed the progress of climate action globally and within Malaysia, looking at opportunities and threats.
Tan Sri Sheng remarked that as individuals, we are all part of a larger community, and our daily and collective action can make a difference. “We have to own our future. Nobody is coming to save us; we have to do it ourselves. We can make a difference, and we should,” he asserted.
He went on to explain that climate change involves system change, thus representing a big problem. He felt that climate change has made us realise that everything is entangled and interrelated from individual and family to community, national and global level.
“Radical thinking is required to facilitate transformation as climate change is complex systems change. This means we must tackle climate problems from bottom up, from community to global levels,” he stressed.
Malaysia can be an exemplar in terms of leading global climate action because of her rich natural resources and human talent. By empowering grassroot communities to initiate climate action, Tan Sri Sheng observed that many NGOs, social enterprises and start-ups can overcome their under-funding and access global expertise and talent.
“We should work on Smart Villages that develop through technology, but stable Wi-Fi is a vital knowledge infrastructure for the rural areas to access global knowhow and markets.”
Tan Sri Sheng also called for the creation of a Global Creative Commons (Wiki-Ori) to network social enterprises so that they can be taught how to access both the expertise and the funding.
According to him, artificial intelligence (AI) and big data have opened up possibilities of matching the supply and demand for knowledge and funding between social enterprises and the potential funders.