UBD Shoots for Sustainability Goals

As a firm advocate of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), Universiti Brunei Darussalam’s (UBD) multi-pronged approach to sustainability cuts across all facets of key university operations and principles.

The Sultanate’s premier institution, UBD stands poised to be a key driver for sustainable development in Brunei Darussalam. The vision is clear: to cultivate a holistic, sustainable ecosystem that transcends the confines of its campus, influencing the wider community and contributing to global resilience.

On the education front, UBD incorporates sustainability principles in education, as it is crucial for shaping a more environmentally conscious and responsible society. Thus, one of the key principles of UBD’s GenNEXT curriculum is environmental awareness. UBD believes all students need to be informed of the critical threats facing our natural environment, primarily caused by human activities. More specifically, it attempts to inculcate principles of sustainability by introducing various modules relating to climate change, biodiversity, environmental aspects of earth sciences, and socio-economic costs and benefits, among others.

Research serves as the cornerstone of UBD’s journey towards sustainability, embodying its commitment to becoming a leading institution that positively influences the environment, society, and economy. UBD’s current status reflects a strong foundation for future growth in sustainability research. Currently, two research groups, “Marine Ecosystem and Climate Change” and “Sustainability,” reaffirm the university’s commitment to not only understanding and mitigating the impacts of climate change on marine environments but also the far-reaching consequences of sustainability on our everyday lives as well as its relevance to real-world problems. Additionally, numerous research grants related to climate change and the conservation of biodiversity showcase UBD’s active engagement with pressing environmental issues.

Over the last five years, around 90% of active research grants, predominantly interdisciplinary, have covered a wide spectrum of sustainability issues. These include climate change, ageing and welfare, unemployment, green and sustainable energy, green hydrogen production, biomass conversion, solar energy, CO2 capture, utilisation and storage, water treatment, precision medicine, and genomics.

As it navigates the evolving landscape of sustainability research, UBD remains dedicated to fostering collaborative, innovative, and impactful initiatives. Specific goals, strategies, and actions guide UBD’s research initiatives, providing a roadmap for the university’s continued leadership in sustainable research and education.

In envisioning a sustainable future, UBD recognises the profound impact of its physical infrastructure on environmental conservation and community well-being. UBD’s aspiration is to mitigate climate change risks and reduce its carbon footprint, fostering a campus that prioritises environmental sustainability through eco-friendly practices. Central to UBD’s vision is the adoption of green building standards and certification for new construction and major renovations. The university commits to designing energy-efficient buildings, utilising sustainable materials, and incorporating renewable energy sources. Current buildings already incorporate energy-saving features, such as LED lighting, sensor-driven electricity usage reduction, and the use of solar energy to power specific areas.

A crucial facet of sustainable infrastructure is landscaping. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, it plays a vital role in environmental conservation. By incorporating native plants, creating wildlife habitats, and implementing sustainable landscaping practices, UBD aims to protect biodiversity, restore natural ecosystems, and contribute to the overall environmental balance. The UBD Botanical Research Centre (BRC) exemplifies this commitment, serving as a hub for multidisciplinary research on native plants (currently nurturing more than 200 local species), their medicinal values, and environmental conservation.

In its commitment to advocate for a sustainable future, UBD also acknowledges the imperative role of integrating sustainability practices within its governance and day-to-day operations. UBD has established a dedicated sustainability committee to oversee the implementation of sustainability initiatives, monitor progress, and engage stakeholders across the university. This committee plays a crucial role in ensuring that sustainability is integrated into all aspects of UBD’s operations, including those relating to campus and support services, facilities, procurement, and administration practices.

UBD remains steadfast in its dedication to collaborating with local communities to tackle mutual sustainability challenges and aspirations. Through knowledge sharing and capacity-building programmes, UBD strives to equip community members with information that can drive positive change, encouraging the adoption of sustainable practices in both personal and professional spheres. By nurturing open communication and fostering active participation, UBD endeavours to cultivate a sustainable and resilient community that extends far beyond the boundaries of its campus. UBD’s Discovery Year Programme, which partly involves helping underprivileged individuals, provides great testaments to the university’s commitment to community wellbeing.

UBD’s internationalisation efforts have propelled the institution onto the global stage. It has made significant strides in fostering international collaborations, attracting a diverse student body, and promoting research and academic partnerships worldwide. These have not only enriched the academic environment but have also equipped students and faculty with the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive in an increasingly globalised world.

Strategic partnerships with renowned universities and institutions around the globe facilitate student and faculty exchanges, dual degree programmes, joint PhD supervision, joint research projects, and the sharing of best practices. Meanwhile, scholarships and exchange programmes have resulted in a steady increase in the number of international students choosing UBD as their destination for higher education. The presence of international students has not only contributed to the cultural diversity on campus but has also promoted intercultural dialogue and mutual respect among students from diverse backgrounds. This diversity has enhanced the learning experience for all students, fostering cross-cultural understanding and preparing them to thrive in an increasingly interconnected world with a global competency mindset. The short-term Global Discovery Programme (GDP) is an initiative that provides inbound students with invaluable learning experiences, equips them with cross-cultural competence, and also fosters important skills such as personal growth, independence, and adaptability.

In line with UBD’s goal of becoming a “University of Innovation and Enterprise,” it has actively been cultivating and nurturing an innovation culture on campus. With entrepreneurship education and development through UBD Entrepreneurship Village (EV), UBD Startup Centre (USC), and collaboration with the Brunei Intellectual Property Office (BruIPO) and World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), UBD continues to transform, pursue knowledge, and produce impactful innovations that aim to solve real-world problems.

UBD’s ongoing initiatives and efforts have not only improved the lives of its students, graduates and alumni along with the community, but have also gained international recognition. To date, UBD stands in the 401-500 band in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings. It also ranks 68th in the THE Young University Rankings. Meanwhile, it secures 60th place in the THE Asia University Rankings, ranking 5th among esteemed institutions in Southeast Asia. In addition to placing in the subject rankings for Engineering, Physical Sciences, Social Sciences, Business and Economics, UBD recently added a ranking of 301-400 for Education.

Among 1,500 institutions globally, the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings places UBD at 387th place. In the Asian region, it ranks 72nd. Since it first broke into the QS Sustainability Ranking last year, UBD now stands at 629th place.

UBD’s initiatives can only be made successful by the concerted efforts of its staff and students, strong collaboration with academic and industry partners, as well as the ongoing support from the Government of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

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