Undergrads organise summit on food, energy and water

The National University of Singapore campus.
The National University of Singapore campus.PHOTO: ST FILE

Too often, young people wait for opportunities to come instead of creating them. National University of Singapore (NUS) undergraduate Goh Seng Chiy, 22, wanted to do more than wait.

"We are always waiting for organisations to conduct talks or workshops for students," said the third- year chemical engineering student, who is also in the University Scholars Programme (USP), and leads its student club.

So, he rounded up eight fellow USP students to organise the first- ever Asian Undergraduate Summit, focusing on food, energy, and water. The summit brought industry experts, government agencies, academics and students from universities in South-east Asia together to discuss issues on resource security and sustainability.

Ahead of the meeting in Singapore, undergraduates in five countries - Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines - discussed the issues last month in the context of their home countries. Those participants are now in town to discuss the issues on a broader, regional scale.

A total of 100 students are taking part in the week-long summit, which ends on Sunday.

It was an ambitious feat, but the nine students were determined to pull it off.

"There's a quote that says 'Be the change you want to see'. And we wanted to do that," said Mr Goh.

The team decided on the topic of the food, water, and energy nexus as it is a topic that holds urgency for everyone, Mr Goh said.

He said: "We can't look at food, energy, and water issues in isolation - they are inextricably linked.

"It pervades all our lives and is a topic that people can relate to."

The participants attended speeches and presentations, visited the NEWater Visitor Centre to learn about water reclamation, and took part in workshops on futures thinking where they were challenged to think of possible future scenarios and ways of approaching them.

Yesterday, Minister for Foreign Affairs K. Shanmugam attended discussions at University Town on how Singapore navigates the issue of food, water and energy security and sustainability.

NUS law undergraduate Dillon Tan, 24, described the summit as an enriching one. Mr Tan, who will go on to work in the energy and infrastructure law field, said: "As law students, we tend to focus on specific issues and we may neglect the broader perspective, which the summit focuses on."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 09, 2015, with the headline 'Undergrads organise summit on food, energy and water'. Print Edition | Subscribe