The growing global population is diminishing resource stocks and accumulating waste faster than it can be absorbed or recycled. Over the past 15 years, 130,000 km of forest has been destroyed annually and 15 percent of ocean stocks have been destroyed. Additionally, the global extraction of natural resources has increased by nearly 45 percent in the last 25 years.
Simultaneously, the growth in global resource consumption and waste emissions has meant that the population is consuming resources at a faster pace than the earth can regenerate. If this trend, or the ‘business as usual’ scenario, continues, the planet’s ability to sustain life will be severely compromised.
The global environmental and scientific communities have long-advocated for major changes in policy and human behavior to stop and reverse the population’s impact on the planet and biodiversity. They have called for a better understanding of the origins of anthropogenic (human-induced) impacts and a transition to a more sustainable system of consumption while maintaining or increasing societal wellbeing.
The solution that has been presented to combat these environmental challenges is
‘sustainable development’. Sustainable development is an interdisciplinary concept that considers the environmental, social and economic dimensions of a system, facilitating a holistic approach to contemporary challenges. There are, however, important limitations inherent in the model. Chief among these is that economics has come to dominate approaches to sustainable development, arguably brought on by the broad influence of Western-centric modern capitalism.
For Southeast Asian countries particularly, there is an urgent need to search for and define a new model specific to the challenges and norms of the region. Since religion has deeply embedded in historical, social and political life of Southeast Asian countries, it can be argued that religion is likely to mobilize the citizens of the region and leverage the required political commitment might be found in many religious traditions. In this respect, key religious doctrines and principles might provide important sources and a platform for a new regional definition of sustainable development.
In this sprit, the Postgraduate Program, Faculty of Islamic Studies, Islamic University of Indonesia, will be organizing and hosting the 2nd Southeast Asian Academic Forum on Sustainable Development. The Forum is an international conference that will offer opportunities for scholars and researchers from various disciplinary backgrounds not only to deliberate upon some of major issues, problems and challenges in promoting and advancing sustainable development, but also to explore and develop new perspectives, approaches and strategies in fully and holistically realizing sustainable development, especially in the Southeast Asian context.