UNESCO & AIT sign Partnership Agreement

UNESCO and the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, expressing their cooperation in biodiversity conservation, and science-based environmental education.

The Director of the UNESCO Regional Education Bureau in Asia Pacific, in Bangkok, Shigeru Aoyagi, lauded the intensified cooperation between the two organizations, dating back to the World Science Day celebration in 2018, which was organized in partnership with the Thai Ministry of Science & Technology. Since that time the two organizations have supported each others scientific activities. He highlighted the role that the sciences and education have to play to foster global peace.

President of AIT, Eden Woon, expressed his concern that while Covid-19 is a relatively new global challenge, that has to be dealt with, inter alia, by mobiilising the science and education, there are other global crises, such as biodiversity loss, climate change, air pollution, and plastic pollution. AIT has recently joint UNESCO’s Plastic Initiative as a founding member.

The AIT, for example, is in process of offering courses on ‘Marine Plastic Abatement’, as a contribution to to keep the world’s oceans and coastlines free of plastic pollution. The course is sponsored by the Government of Japan. UNESCO supports this element intellectually.

Woon and Aoyagi also discussed the great importance of the Sustainable Development Goals, and the need to achieve them, in the best interest of humanity. They exchanged information on how their respective organizations are contributing to achieve the SDGs. AIT presented its new Sustainability Report.

In order to concretize meaningful activities that bring about positive impact on ecosystem health, it was suggested to embark on a joint internship programme, fostering the knowledge and skills of young professionals on science-based environmental management.

It was also discussed, since Covid-19 has basically eliminated the chance for international educational travel in the near future, to travel more locally, possibly offering field-expeditions to university students, visiting UNESCO Biosphere Reserves and UNESCO Global Geopaks in Thailand. It was suggested that the Ranong Biosphere Reserve, and the Satun Geopark, might be suitable locations, to be visited in 2021. The young participants will get an improved indepths understanding of the challenges and hopes of people living inside or close to these coastal nature conservation sites, and the interaction between people and nature and the dependency of people on intact and functioning nature-based ecosystem services.

Benno Böer

Programme Specialist for Natural Sciences, UNESCO Bangkok Office

Dr. Böer is a professional project manager with 30 years experience in the global environmental sciences. He serves as UNESCO Natural Science Specialist in Bangkok. His work addresses environmental issues, catalyzing science-based adaptation options for sustainable human living.

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