eBorneo Knowledge Fair 8, eBKF VIII,
26th - 28th October 2021
Theme: Indigenous People and the Sustainable Development Goals
The eBorneo Knowledge Fair (eBKF) is a re-branded version of what was previously called the eBario Knowledge Fair and it represents the expansion of the eBario project to include more indigenous communities in Borneo, and beyond. 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.
Many indigenous populations of Borneo share common lifestyles and cultures, yet they are separated from each other through the creation of international borders which have led to the creation of new barriers to the on-going connections which have existed between them for generations. With recent development in ICTs, this gap can be bridged, and enable these isolated communities to share their knowledge and achievements so that they can support each other. Given the commonality of lifestyles, challenges and opportunities faced by Borneo’s indigenous peoples, it is time to (re)foster interconnections between them. This is by leveraging on sharing of ideas, experiences and accomplishments that have been achieved by some of the communities. This is so that others who are less fortunate can also benefit.
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.
The Covid-19 pandemic has created obstacles for meetings and conferences involving large groups of people. The Malaysian Government’s Movement Control Order has prohibited mass movements and gatherings across the country and placed restrictions on the entry of all foreign visitors. However, an opportunity has arisen to hold such events on-line, especially as the technology required to do so is becoming increasingly accessible, reliable and easy to use. Moreover, there is now the advantage that participants need not commit to several days involvement requiring (somewhat) arduous travel in order to take part. Although the event benefited greatly from its remote location, an online version will enable contributions from a far wider audience.
Accordingly, ISITI-UNIMAS is organising the eighth eBKF in October 2021 to be held on-line. The theme this year is Indigenous Peoples and the Sustainable Development Goals. There are several good reasons for doing this. First, indigenous peoples are over-represented within global poverty statistics but are also among the groups for whom orthodox development is the most problematic. Second, indigenous organisations frequently complain that indigenous peoples are invisible within the SDGs, only appearing when grouped together with other underserved communities, thereby obscuring the specifics of the kind of development that they would welcome. Third, it acknowledges the emphasis on sustainability and the challenges induced by global warming and it recognizes the emerging relevance of the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples to 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. Finally, it presents an opportunity to examine the important role that such communities play in the protection of the biodiversity of their environments
– often recognized as the most effective means of doing so.
Consequently, we invite participation from persons interested in these issues; indigenous representatives, academic researchers, development professionals, policy makers and their advisors, private sector and media representatives, government officials etc. The event will likely be arranged into themed working sessions spread over several days in order to make participation easier for contributors in different time zones and with varying interests.