Resetting for Sustainability: Part 2

“The Future never spoke—
Nor will he like the Dumb
Reveal by sign a Syllable
Of his profound To Come—

But when the News be ripe
Presents it in the Act—
Forestalling Preparation—
Escape-or Substitute”

Emily Dickinson

Forewarned and forearmed. The common phrase that is becoming a cliché among pundits and policymakers. How do we prepare ourselves to endure the uncertainties and embrace a world that is changing ever rapidly? These are difficult questions but we definitely need the answers, and we need them yesterday.

 

In the academic world, we always hold on to a famous mantra “publish or perish” and I guess the same can be said to any nation now. Either you innovate, embrace sustainable and inclusive agenda, modernise your infrastructure and accelerate digital transformation or face the risk of peril and become an economic backwater. In fact, we have to rationalise and respond to the challenges, not only to recover to pre-crisis level but to set a strong foundation for creating a vibrant and resilient economy. In retrospect, the current crisis is not the first and definitely will not be the last one.

 

History directionality has shown that human has evolved and overcome adversities in the past. The evolution seems to solve one problem but create another. To overcome poverty, we create inequality; to modernise and urbanise, we contribute to climate risk; to attain technological progress, we create a digital gap; to enhance automation, we increase the risk of unemployment. Nonetheless, the constant evolution is presenting a great opportunity for innovation and wealth creation. But only the best and most competitive will prevail.

 

The real question is whether we have the audacity to face these challenges. Can we collectively evolve and formulate the right policy to prepare ourselves better? Do we adopt the same thinking and expect a different outcome or we continue seeking innovative solutions for all the imperatives? As much as we admit the complexity of challenges and adversities but make no mistake that solutions are still attainable. The basics remain the same – invest in talent, ensure the rule of law prevails, embrace science and technology, promote social harmony and cohesion, but most importantly pursue justice and equality.

 

Reset or reform is no longer an option. The sooner we start the better it will be for us as a nation. Let us not miss this opportunity as the next one might be too late for us.

Thanks for reading and I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone Selamat Hari Raya and Eid Mubarak.

 

By Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mohamed Eskandar Shah Mohd Rasid, Associate Dean, School of Graduate and Professional Studies (SGPS)

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