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The recently held conference Cultural Wisdom for Climate Action: The Southeast Asian Contribution, hosted by The Siam Society Under Royal Patronage on behalf of SEACHA, earns the groups accolades and an invitation to the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in the United Arab Emirates.
SEACHA Advisors and Directors
Bangkok, 26 June 2023 – The question “Can cultural heritage play a role as means or solutions for climate change issues?” was explored by a diverse range of distinguished speakers at a Southeast Asian Cultural Heritage Alliance (SEACHA) conference hosted by The Siam Society Under Royal Patronage in Bangkok. This past January 12-14, panels comprising scholars, activists and both established and emerging leaders across ASEAN countries made the case that Southeast Asia’s ancestral wisdom can be a major component in the region’s strategy to mitigate climate change.
A principal goal of this conference was to raise the issues presented to a regional and policy level in Southeast Asia. An important measure of the conference’s impact, that goes even beyond the regional, is the invitation extended by the Climate Heritage Network (CHN) for The Siam Society and SEACHA to be Co-Chairs along with Petra National Trust (PNT) in the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference – COP 28, to be held in the United Arab Emirates later this year. “The invitation underscores the importance of the Cultural Wisdom for Climate Action conference and recognizes The Siam Society and SEACHA’s commitment to tackling this global issue at all possible levels,” said Kanitha Kasina-Ubol, Managing Director of The Siam Society.
During the three-day event, conference attendees had the rare opportunity to hear new approaches to the climate change concern, as moderated panels delved into how historical traditions and heritage can provide an “arsenal of weapons” in ASEAN countries’ strategies to cope with climate change. The conference began with a keynote speech delivered by Distinguished Professor Dr. Chaiwat Satha-Anand, Founder and Director of Peace Information Center at Thammasat University, who set the stage with his presentation on “From the floating lotus to Groot’s wisdom: Engaging contemporary ecological challenges with Southeast Asian cultures.”
From that compelling beginning, presenters and panelists guided conference participants on a journey that ranged from the familiar and topical – such as “Sustainable Ways of Living” and “Urbanization and Built Environment” – to the more esoteric and thought-provoking lines of thinking that rarely get coverage, such as “Spiritual Connections to Nature and to Climate Change Action.” Perspectives drew from regional history, sustainable resource stewardship methods, indigenous design practices and native social structures to shape and inform the conversation around climate change.
In addition to offering a wide range of voices, the Cultural Wisdom for Climate Action was noteworthy for its pointed inclusion of younger perspectives in the discussion. Mr. Joshua Anak Belayan, SEACHA Youth Representative from Brunei, offered a keynote address, while a number of panels were comprised entirely of SEACHA Youth Representatives from across Southeast Asia.
The success of the Cultural Wisdom for Climate Action conference, then, and the aforementioned invitation to extend this discussion to the UN Climate Change Conference later this year, reflects the vision of the organizers to create an ongoing dialogue that not only looks back to traditional knowledge but also elevates the passion of Southeast Asian youth who will shape the world to come.
About Siam Society Under Royal Patronage
The Siam Society is a Thai cultural organization with an international scope. It promotes the study and knowledge-sharing about the cultures, history, arts, and heritage conservation of Thailand and its neighboring countries in South-East Asia. Visit their website to learn more about activities and how to become a member: https://thesiamsociety.org/
About Southeast Asian Cultural Heritage Alliance (SEACHA)
The Bangkok-based organization is a “joint commitment of government, the people and the business sector to cultural heritage protection policies and actions to safeguard Southeast Asian cultural heritage for future generations.” Learn more about the organization and its activities and goals at https://seacha.org/
SEACHA Advisors and Directors (from left to right):
Mr James Stent (SEACHA Advisor, Thailand), Mr Nguyen Duc Tang (SEACHA Director, Vietnam), Ms Khoo Salma Nasution (SEACHA Vice Chairperson, Malaysia), Dr Catrini Pratihari Kubontubuh (SEACHA Chairperson, Indonesia), Ms Kanitha Kasina-Ubol (SEACHA Director, Thailand), Dr Ivan Anthony Henares (SEACHA Director, Philippines), Ms Moe Moe Lwin (SEACHA Vice Chairperson, Myanmar), Ms Gretchen Worth (SEACHA Advisor, Thailand) and Dr Johannes Widodo (Advisor to SEACHA, Singapore)
Mrs Bilaibhan Sampatisiri, President of The Siam Society and SEACHA, delivering welcome remarks to all participants at the reception dinner
Dr. Chaiwat Satha-Anand, Founder and Director of Peace Information Center at Thammasat University delivering a keynote speech
Welcome dinner for SEACHA speakers at Park Nai Lert Heritage Home on 11 January 2023
Cultural performance specially arranged by The Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia Bangkok
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