By AIT Public Affairs
27 September 2023 – His Excellency Mr. Pedro Zwahlen, Ambassador of Switzerland to Thailand, Cambodia, and Lao PDR, met with Prof. Kazuo Yamamoto, President of the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), along with AIT officials on 26 September 2023. The meeting aimed to strengthen the existing relationship between Switzerland and AIT, focusing on sustainability and climate change initiatives.
Ambassador Zwahlen was accompanied by Mr. Arnaud Germann, Political and Economic Attaché, and Ms. Patchaya Thanaudom, Economic Officer. During the meeting, AIT’s commitment to sustainability and addressing climate change was brought to the forefront. Both parties acknowledged the long-standing collaboration between the Government of Switzerland and AIT that began in 1972, marked by generous support from the Government of Switzerland through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) for scholarships, faculty secondment, student exchange program and operating funds.
Prof. Yamamoto expressed his gratitude for the long term support that AIT had received from the Government of Switzerland from 1972-2007 and also expressed his happiness and interest to re engage with the Government of Switzerland and work together in various areas such as sustainability, climate change, bio circular economy, energy, air pollution and water pollution. He emphasized the significance of collaborations with Swiss universities, facilitating faculty and student exchanges, and promoting joint research projects aligned with Switzerland’s International Cooperation Strategy. Prof. Yamamoto also conveyed AITs willingness to actively participate in Switzerland’s Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) aimed at advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in developing nations.
Ambassador Zwahlen shared the Swiss government’s vision and steadfast commitment to addressing sustainability and climate change issues including the four lines of actions in the embassy. He commended AIT for its remarkable sustainability initiatives and highlighted the potential areas for future collaboration. The ambassador expressed a keen interest in exploring avenues for partnership, leveraging AIT’s expertise in addressing critical global challenges.
From AIT, the meeting was attended by Prof. Abdul P. Salam, Dean of the School of Environment Resources and Development (SERD); Dr. Sarawut Ninsawat, Acting Dean of the School of Engineering and Technology (SET), Department Head, ICT/SET and Assoc. Professor of RS-GIS/SET; Dr. Ekbordin Winijkul,, Department Head, EECC/SERD and Assoc. Professor, EEM/SERD; Prof. Thammarat Koottatep, Professor, EEM/SERD and Co-Director, GWSC; Mr. Shawn P. Kelly, Executive Director of OIPA; Dr. Sumana Shrestha, Director of International Affairs, OIPA and Mr. Sanjeet Amatya, Director of Public Affairs, OIPA.
During the visit, the delegates also visited the Hydraulics Lab at the School of Engineering and Technology (SET) to gain insights into hydroelectricity models in Laos. The Water Engineering and Management (WEM) Hydraulics Laboratory spans an area of 1,800 square meters, with a significant portion dedicated to conducting large-scale physical modeling experiments, including spillways, intakes, outlets, diversion tunnels, stilling basins, fish ladders, pumping stations, and other hydraulic structures.
Additionally, they visited AIT’s Global Water & Sanitation Center (GWSC). Established in November 2022, GWSC aims to expedite access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) for all in Asia by 2030. It assembles a catalytic platform comprising bright minds, experts, innovations, and funding to address challenges in the sector.
Furthermore, the delegates had the opportunity to meet with a Swiss student who is currently studying in SOM/AIT. During this interaction, the student exchanged her experiences and insights.
The cooperation between AIT and Switzerland dates back to 1972 and continues to evolve, forging a path towards a more sustainable and climate-resilient future.