The pioneering eBorneo Knowledge Fair initiated by UNIMAS in Bario in 2007 is holding its eighth version on-line. Whilst the pandemic travel restrictions present a challenge, theinternet connectivity that is rapidly moving into Borneo’s interior offers an opportunity, so the organisers have decided to make the eighth event virtual.
The Knowledge Fair showcases the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for development in isolated and rural areas, especially those inhabited by indigenous peoples. It brings together researchers, development practitioners, policy makers, technology scientists, community leaders and residents to identify the challenges faced by isolated rural communities, and at the same time map available opportunities for sustainable development using ICTs, and other relevant technologies.
Going on-line has the added advantage of allowing global participation without requiring contributors to travel into the remote locations, such as Bario and Ba’Kelalan, in which it has previously been held. Although removing some of the authenticity of the immersive experience that has been provided in the past, it means that remote communities can still participate in this unique event.
This year’s theme is Indigenous People and the Sustainable Development Goals, acknowledging the emphasis on development that is sustainable. It also recognizes the emerging relevance of the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples for a better understanding of the impacts of a changing climate on the vulnerable environments that they occupy as well as the adaptations that they have made to mitigating those impacts.
According to the event chairman, Professor Dr. Narayanan Kulathuramaiyer, Director of the Institute of Social Informatics and Technological Innovations at UNIMAS, “the Knowledge Fair has served as a platform for the exchange of knowledge between the various and diverse stakeholders, becoming a powerful avenue for transferring community initiated best-practices and acting as a channel for feedback that helps to identify concerns and potential ideas through direct engagement and partnership with the participating indigenous communities”.
This year’s agenda covers a wide range of issues, including; Responsible Rural Tourism;Community Craftsfor Sustainable Development; Covid-19 Impacts, Adaptations and Post Covid responses; Community Service Learning; and the Reality of Climate Change for Highland Communities In Borneo.
As UNIMAS Vice-Chancellor, Professor Datuk Dr Mohamad Kadim Suaidi stated, “It is through close collaborations with local indigenous communities that the world can bear witness to the importance of partnering researchers with relevant communities, to bridge the gap between theoretical understanding and issues in the real world.”
The eighth eBorneo Knowledge Fair will be held on 26th – 28th October 2021. More information and registration are available the event’s website; http://www.conference.unimas.my/2021/eBKF2021/index.php