Students from the Natural Resources Management field of study, School of Environment, Resources, and Development of the Asian Institute of Technology have won the annual debate organized on the occasion of the International Day of Forests for the third successive year. The three-member team of Mr. Vasan Narang, Ms Ngoc Han and Ms. Sobia Asghar defeated their rival Kasetsart University at the competition held on 21 March 2016.
The debate was organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) along with RECOFTC – The Center for People and Forests, and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), at the FAO premises in Bangkok.
Debating on the proposition “Investing in forest restoration reduces the cost of providing clean water to people,” the AIT team spoke in favor of the motion. The AIT team reasoned that forest restoration curtails soil erosion and nutrient runoff, enhances clean groundwater infiltration, thus reducing the use of chemicals in water treatment and prolonging the life of treatment facilities.
This year’s winning team members hail from three countries — Vasan is from Thailand, while Ngoc Han is from Vietnam, and Sobia is from Pakistan. While Sobia is a Doctoral candidate, both Vasan and Le Truong are Master’s students — all three being enrolled in the Natural Resource Management (NRM) field of study in AIT’s School of Environment, Resources and Development (SERD).
In her welcomes remarks, Kundhavi Kadiresan, Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative stated that “The ‘Forests and Water’ theme is particularly relevant this year, as we are reminded every day in the news about the ongoing and intensifying drought, the farmers who are suffering from lack of water for their crops, and even potential water shortages in urban areas.” “I want to say how great it is to see all of you, the students and teachers from the participating schools and universities for your participation. This event is about you and for you,” Kadiresan added.
The three judges were Mr. Patrick Durst, Senior Forestry Officer, FAO; Mr. Ronnakorn Triraganon, Manager, Capacity Development and Technical Services (CDTS), RECOFTC; and Ms. Keiko Numara, Programmer Officer,UN-REDD, UNEP.
Eight participating teams were divided into four categories. Apart from AIT, the other three winners are Panyarat High School, Garden International School, and Anglo Singapore School.
This is the third successive win for AIT students. In 2014, AIT students Sam Chanthy from Cambodia, Rehan Ul Haq of Pakistan, and Aung Kyaw Naing from Myanmar had debated on the topic “The best way to conserve forests is to keep people out of the forests,” and won. The following year Katika Punbuatoom from Thailand, and Sumitra KC and Pradeep Baral from Nepal, won the debate while speaking on the proposition “That climate change means we should spend more money on protecting forests.”
More details are available at the FAO website: http://www.fao.org/asiapacific/news/detail-events/en/c/394620/