The first International Conference on Sustainable Futures (ICSF) was held to great success and gives great lessons to oil-dependent economies who are looking for alternate energy sources.
Applied Science University (ASU), Kingdom of Bahrain in association with London South Bank University (LSBU), United Kingdom and under the patronage of His Excellency the Minister of Education, Kingdom of Bahrain, Dr Majid bin Ali Al-Nuaimi hosted the first International Conference on Sustainable Futures (ICSF 2017).
ICSF commenced on November 26th, 2017 at the Grove Hotel in Amwaj Islands with the opening remarks delivered by Prof. Ghassan Aouad, Conference Chair and President of Applied Science University.
The conference was supported by Nass Group, Higher Education Academy, AARU and other Universities in the Kingdom. Sameer Nass, Chairman of the Board of Directors–ASU and Professor Waheeb AlKhaja, Chairman of the Board of Trustees–ASU were the Conference Honorary Chairpersons. Professor Ghassan held the Conference Chairperson position with Professor Charles Egbu, Dean at London South Bank University, UK. Chris Blythe, CEO of The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) was the Chairperson for the session covering sustainable buildings and infrastructure; he also chaired the Panel Discussion.
Dr. Roy Blatchford, Executive Director of Education, Office of the First Deputy Prime Minister gave the keynote speech on “Success is a Journey”. Professor Mustafa Alshawi, gave the keynote speech on “Achieving Competitiveness and Sustainable Environments through BIM: A Client Perspective”. Dr. Muna Al-Balooshi, the Assistant Secretary-General for Accreditation and Evaluation and Dr. Farzana Al-Maraghi, Director of Scientific Research at the Secretariat-General of the Higher Education Council delivered the keynote speeches on Research strategy.
Conference to attract more investors
The two-day conference covered topics on the effects and incorporation of green school environment in the eco-neighborhood; sustainable buildings and infrastructure; sustainable education and a comparative understanding of student’s sustainability knowledge; the role of banking & the finance sector in achieving a sustainable real estate project environment and subsequent impact on climate change; and sustainable planning to ensure equivalent entrepreneurship for the ethnic minority and women in four sessions.
The 60 research papers submitted during the conference covered important topics on the developments in sustainable energy related to technology, environment and economics. ICSF indeed attracted attention to Bahrain as the knowledge hub in the GCC.
The conference is expected to attract more investors and researchers with practical knowledge generated in the field of Bahrain, and which will be beneficial for the Kingdom as well as the entire Gulf region. The research papers and findings discussed during this conference is expected to help GCC and oil-dependent economy countries to look into alternative energy sources and to cope with difficult economic conditions.
“British Universities remain as the preferred educational destination for Bahraini students. Statistically, one in every 500 Bahraini students studying in any of the UK Universities is equivalent to 60,000 British people studying in one of the overseas Universities, anywhere in the world,” said His Excellency Simon Martin CMG, British Ambassador to Bahrain as he described the importance of the joint collaboration of the British Universities during the inauguration speech.
ICSF 2017 hosted 22-60 representatives from 15 British Universities. H.E commented on this participation as a historical fact and an act for the future level of Bahrain’s education. H.E. also emphasized the importance of recognizing the women in the fields of science and technology. He cited that the increase in the number of young Bahraini women in the Science and Engineering sectors is a welcome sign and aptly supported by Bahrain Universities.
15 different British Universities have prepared the research papers and the intellectual content and became part of the scientific communities at the ICSF 2017. This participation validates the need for similar conferences and the timely actions of the organizers.
A Holistic approach
Professor David Phoenix, Vice Chancellor and CEO of LSBU commented on the importance of the collaboration between Applied Science University (ASU) and LSBU. ICSF 2017, jointly organized by ASU and LSBU is the fruition of a dream of developing research and innovation aspects for a sustainable future.
“Research and innovation is a spectrum. At one end we have research, which means seeking out and creating knowledge. At the other end is innovation, taking new knowledge and creating new things for the benefit of society. One path cannot be better or worse than the other. What differentiates the universities is that they combine the research and the innovation into their teaching methods in an academic environment.”
Professor Phoenix added that universities need to create knowledge for the innovative use of the business sector in the society. The power of research and innovation from universities is achieved only through a holistic approach. The impact of the knowledge and the innovation will improve the productivity in the country, leading to the services that the community and the citizens require.
The role of professional bodies
Blythe emphasized the role of professional bodies in supporting sustainable futures. He mentioned that professional bodies are social enterprises for the public good.
The professional bodies should consider a sustainable future while discharging their services because that is where the public interest and welfare rely on. This is applicable to all professions from construction, law, engineering to medicine. There is a common link between these professions in this aspect of learning and method of work.
“The professional bodies are well known for the conversion of knowledge into practice. In the current scenario, professional bodies have to keep in mind the wider impact of their role. There is a need to look beyond the immediacy of the current task. To achieve a sustainable future, the professionals leading their professional institutions should use a moral compass. The society deserves nothing less in return for the status and privileges they provide to these professional institutions.”
Blythe mentioned that to achieve the above, the professional institutions sometimes would have to face the uncomfortable truth that what is legal is not always right. However, if they use the moral compass what is legal and what is right in the professions will eventually converge.
Towards a Sustainable Innovative Future
Professor Egbu discussed in his research paper the holistic approach to address the impact of the Built and Natural Environments on Health & Wellbeing of the society.
He detailed that sustainable future is a topic that has to be approached holistically since it affects not only a region but has global impacts. Each action that we do has its impact not only in our immediate areas but has a wider reach.
“The activities of the human beings contribute to the impact on sustainability and invariably affects the health and well-being of the society. Everyone has a responsible role to improve the impact of sustainable future on the society. ”
The professor’s research in areas such as sustainable development, resilient communities, construction economics etc. has attracted national and international acknowledgement. He concluded that ICSF has a prominent role in this situation since it brings together academicians, business persons, industrialists, and government bodies. “They can together think and move towards the progressed areas of sustainability.”