UKM’s Multi-Discipline Approach On Climate Change Vindicated

UKM’s Multi-Discipline Approach On Climate Change Vindicated1By Saiful Bahri Kamaruddin
Pix Centre For Corporate Communications

BANGI, 5 Jan 2015 – The National University of Malaysia’s (UKM) approach to environment and sustainability issues through multi-stake holders and multi-disciplinary perspectives has been vindicated.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation Affairs) Prof Datuk Dr Mazlin Mokhtar said he and other academics view the curriculum on development and sustainability seriously as it is a comparatively new field in Malaysia.

Speaking to the UKM News Portal after attending a week-long workshop on climate change curriculum in Kuala Lumpur recently, Prof Mazlin said there is a growing awareness even among the general public that any new project will impact the environment.

Some 100 professionals from around the world – ranging from forestry experts, agriculturists to social scientists as well as experts in fields related to climate change – gathered in Malaysia for a week-long workshop to “train the trainers” on climate change curriculum.

“When talking about development nowadays, you cannot run away from addressing issues relating to their potential impact on climate change. This is exactly what we are doing here through the multi-discipline and multi-sector approach,” he said.

Prof Mazlin was thankful for the significant contribution by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to the programme.

“Academia has a role to play in imparting knowledge about mitigation or adaptation. This important role is recognised by USAID, which has been providing funding to bring academics in the region on how best to impart knowledge on climate change to their students and even fellow academicians,” he said.

The curriculum development workshops and the training of trainers sessions were organised by the USAID Lowering Emissions in Asia’s Forests (USAID LEAF) programme in partnership with the US Forest Service.

USAID LEAF is a five-year cooperative agreement funded by the USAID Regional Development Mission for Asia.

Prof Mazlin, who sits on the National Council of Professors as the Head of the Sub Cluster on Sustainable Development, said UKM has always advocated the involvement of experts in various fields as they bring different perspectives that academicians might have missed.

The ‘training of trainers’ covers basic climate change, social and environmental soundness, low emission land use planning as well as carbon measurement and monitoring.

The origins of the climate change programme dates from 2012 when the modules were first drafted.

Academics and experts drawn from many disciplines from six countries came together and agreed upon the set of modules which would be relevant to those attending the sessions, Prof Mazlin said.

The advantage of the USAID LEAF approach is that the module is flexible enough to be adapted to all educational fields, he said.

“When you talk about education, it has various pathways – formal, informal and non-formal. But of course, for the first round, we gather more professors and academics, so they go to a more formal classroom setting.”

Prof Mazlin, who was previously the director of UKM’s Institute for Environment and Development (Lestari), said the trainers are expected to learn the skills so that they can help build up capacity not just in a university classroom setting.

They should also be able to impart basic climate change knowledge to society such as village heads and the public so that they will be able to look for solutions to the problems they face.

Now nearing completion, the climate change curriculum has been described as being the first of its kind in the South-East Asian region. Its development involved the collective effort of 12 universities from Cambodia, Laos, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia which is represented by Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and UKM.