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Symposium on Rural Sustainability in the Asia Pacific: Bridging Science and Action

25 Jan 2024
School of Environment, Resources and Development

25 January 2024: The symposium on “Rural Sustainability in the Asia Pacific” took place on 24 January, 2024, at the AIT Convention Centre in Thailand. Organized by the Academic Program Development Planning Management and Innovation (DPMI) of the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), in collaboration with The University of Hong Kong, Tsinghua University, and National Chengchi University, the event is part of the Rural Sustainability Programme – APAC Initiative for Regional Impact (AIRI), initiated by the Centre for Civil Society and Governance at The University of Hong Kong and funded by the Hong Kong Bank Foundation.

This was a scientific event that promoted the integration of scientific knowledge and practical actions to advance rural sustainable development and revitalization. Both local and international academics, along with the winners of the AIRI Urban-Rural Sustainability Action Proposal Competition, presented their research on rural sustainability and showcased rural action projects.

Symposium themes were as follows:

  1. Food systems and Agricultural sustainability
  2. Rural Economic Development
  3. Rural environment and natural resource conservation
  4. Climate change and rural community resilience.
  5. Rural heritage, socio-cultural conservation 
  6. Eco-Tourism and Rural Tourism
  7. Rural Governance and Policy
  8. Social Inclusion and Equity

The event provided a valuable platform for emerging and established researchers and practitioners to showcase their work, exchange ideas, and engage with regionally renowned academics, practitioners, and policymakers. It played a crucial role in enhancing their expertise and professional recognition in the field of rural sustainability while fostering cooperation and strengthening collaboration efforts within the region.

Professor Kazuo Yamamoto, AIT President, delivered the welcome remarks, addressing critical challenges and proposing sustainable solutions for rural communities in the Asia Pacific region. He encouraged participants to apply the knowledge gained from the symposium to collaborate, learn, and inspire each other, contributing to a lasting positive impact on shaping a sustainable future for rural communities.

Professor Wai-Fung Lam, Director of the Centre for Civil Society and Governance at the University of Hong Kong, officially opened the symposium, highlighting the invaluable opportunity it offered for researchers and practitioners. He introduced the outstanding Fellows from the “AIRI Urban-Rural Sustainability Fellowship 2022-23” based in Thailand, Mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, who won in the AIRI Urban-Rural Sustainability Action Proposal Competition and received seed grants for project implementation.

Discover Rural Living Culture: Exploration of Rural Sustainable Development in Hong Kong 
Nanjian Tiaocha 
Seaside Village Revitalisation Information Centre: Saving Roots & Routes: The Hua Takhe Community 
A Case Design for the Travel Route in Turtle Island Regeneration Village Community

The four AIRI fellows’ winning Action Proposals on Rural Revitalization have been presented and discussed during the symposium.

Several guest speakers presented during the symposium, including Professor Pier Paolo Roggero, Former General Secretary of Desert International under UNCCD, and Dean of the Agrarian Department of the University of Sassari, Italy. Professor Roggero discussed the topic “Agriculture Adaptation to Climate Change: Global Dynamics and Transformations in Food and Consumption,” highlighting the impact of climate change on global food security and crop production challenges.

Professor Kyoko Kusakabe, Chair of the Gender and Development Academic Program at AIT delivered a presentation on “Monitoring Gender Equality in Fisheries and Aquaculture in Southeast Asia: Making the Invisible Visible.” She emphasized the importance of gender equality in fisheries and aquaculture, addressed issues in gender monitoring, and provided recommendations for achieving gender equality.

Dr. Liu Chuang, Assistant Researcher at the School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University, discussed “Activating Co-Production in Public Service Delivery: Examining the Role of Nonprofits with a Case Study in China.” Dr. Jessica Marie Williams, Assistant Lecturer at the Centre for Civil Society and Governance, The University of Hong Kong, presented on “Stewardship for Rural Revitalization: Building Collaborations for Sustained Action.

The symposium also hosted posters and presentations addressing rural development challenges and sustainability from early career and established researchers across universities and research institutes in the Asia Pacific.

For further information about Thailand AIRI and the aforementioned events, please contact Associate Professor Dr. Thi Phuoc Lai Nguyen, DPMI Program Chair, and PI of Thailand AIRI, via email: [email protected].