The eBorneo Knowledge Fair (eBKF) is a bi-annual unconference, held in the highlands of Central Borneo in northern Sarawak. It showcases the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for development in isolated and rural areas, especially those regions inhabited by indigenous peoples. eBKF also highlights the achievements of the multi-award winning eBario project through which various ICTs and Malaysia’s first community radio station have been introduced into this remote region. Organised by the Institute of Social Informatics and Technological Innovations at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, together with the local communities in the highlands, this event provides an opportunity for researchers, development practitioners, policy makers, technology scientists, designers and developers and community leaders to together immerse in the realities of everyday life of the isolated indigenous communities involved.
Unlike other conferences, eBKF unconference is organized, structured and led by people attending it. Instead of passive listening, all attendees and organisers are encouraged to become participants, with discussion leaders providing moderation and structure for attendees. Together, participants identify the challenges faced by isolated rural communities, and at the same time map available opportunities for sustainable development through the use and application of ICTs, and other relevant technologies.
Moreover, experiences so far has amplified the values of existing traditional indigenous knowledge for a variety of purposes. Among these is the understanding of the impacts of climate change on fragile environments, and the adaptation strategies devised by communities to strengthen their resilience to the situation. Accordingly, there is merit in gathering, documenting and disseminating such knowledge among a wide population so that as many people as possible can make use of the knowledge – not only for strengthening the sustainability of their customary practices, but also to protect their valuable and distinctive environment.
Since 2007, eBKF has gathered a number of indigenous communities in the highland regions of central Borneo, known as the “Heart of Borneo”, with a singular objective to stimulate the use of technologies in their community development planning within their own environment. In the year 2019, eBKF VII will gather indigenous communities living within the vicinity of the international border between Indonesia and Malaysia from Sarawak and Kalimantan. The main aim is to discuss, debate and devise strategies based on knowledge exchanged and shared in their quest for locally-relevant development. It is expected that these discussions will focus on common issues found amongst them due to the existence of the international boundaries: cross border tourism, cross border trade practices, digital economy and community development, security at the border regions, cross border labour migration patterns, ICTs in cultural preservations, borrowings and exchanges, biodiversity and cross-border environmental conservation and preservation.