KUCHING: That part of Sungai Sarawak Kiri locally known as Sungai Semadang at Kampung Semadang by Jalan Puncak Borneo, 40km from here, is where the Regional Centre of Expertise Kuching (RCE Kuching) will implement its pilot river conservation programme.

RCE Kuching vice chairman Mukvinder Shandhu said the centre will work together with its key partners, which include various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as WormingUp, JCI Kuching, schools, WWF-Malaysia, the Natural Resources and Environment Board, the Sarawak Rivers Board, Sarawak Biodiversity Centre, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) and communities along the river such as Kampung Semedang.

UCSI University, in September last year, set up the RCE Kuching to support transformative education for translating the United Nations’ global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into the local context.

Mohamad Morshidi (right) shows a plant and plaque he received from the organiser, while Mukvinder (left) and two USCI University officials look on.

Mukvinder, who is also UCSI University chief operating officer, said RCE Kuching has been acknowledged by the UN’s University-Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) Tokyo, Japan.

“The centre aims to work with a network of individuals, organisations and experts who are committed to using education as a tool for building a sustainable future.

“We want to empower people within their communities to lead better, more sustainable lives by providing them with information, education and tools they need to create positive social and environmental change,” she said.

All these, she said was aimed at improving the society’s awareness of the importance of cleanliness of rivers and as part of education for sustainable development in achieving the SDGs.

“We would like to promote the goals of SDG 6 which is Clean Water and Sanitation and SDG 14 — Life Below Water. We want to empower our locals to understand what they can do to contribute to each of these global goals.

“A simple act as not throwing rubbish into our rivers, and teaching our friends and families to do the same can go a long way,” she explained.

CE volunteers distribute plants to their guests.

She said together with these stakeholders, RCE Kuching wants to be able to provide a framework for strategic thinking and action on sustainability, thus creating tangible improvements in our communities. RCE Kuching, she said, also wants to empower locals and youth to be agents of change as they make sustainable choices for themselves and their communities.

“The success they achieve at the local level is brought to scale through the global RCE network. Local knowledge, expertise and best practices are shared globally and applied successfully in other regions,” she said.

She added that recently they met with the United Nations University team, other RCEs from the Asia Pacific region and Unesco in Hangzhou, China to update them on the various programmes RCE Kuching have planned in Kuching to promote awareness of the SDGs and importance of sustainability.

She mentioned that the recent Sarawak River Art Competition 2019 themed ‘Our River, Our Life’ held to commemorate Sarawak Day was one such programme.

Ann Marie Teng May Ching, winner in the painting category of the art competition.

Mukvinder explained that the art competition was aimed at gathering unique perspectives that local communities have on their rivers and their sustainability and how they can express themselves in various art forms.

A total of 30 paintings, 19 poetries and five sculptures were shortlisted from amongst the entries and the prize presentation was held on July 22 at the Kuching Waterfront where former State Secretary, who is also deputy chairman of Old Kuching SMART Heritage (OKSHe) Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohamad Morshidi Abdul Ghani, officiated.