A new year's address by the President of the IHS International alumni network
Dear city changer,
The world looks very different to me at the outset of 2017 than it did a year ago. This last year has been a tumultuous year environmentally and politically and we have seen surprising (and in many ways shocking) decisions which have shaped the global political climate this last year. These world movements have far reaching impacts and urban development, housing, land development, infrastructure and climate change resilience projects are also affected intrinsically. We live in an age of change and for many change can be uncomfortable, it can leave questions and stir unrest. However, for others change can also inspire innovation. I hope that we fall in the latter category.
Our commitment as the IHS alumni board is to use our network as a force for doing good work. There are no easy tangible benefits of networks. There are no benchmarks to measure the impacts. However, fundamentally, we believe our IHS AI network exists to create positive change in our world - especially the urbanising world. A rapidly urbanising world also means a greater interdependence of communities and businesses to deal with the new challenges that arise. Diversity, tolerance, inclusion and social justice are the foundational values of a sustainable society. Responsible citizenship matters, and together we have the power to create social change. Collectively, through our practice and profession, we should aspire to create benefit for all. To do so requires that we act with the understanding, that we are each dependent upon another, and thus responsible for each other and future generations.
As a global network committed to positive social change, we had a wonderful 2016 whereby the highlight was clearly the IHSAI Urban Professionals Awards during Habitat III in Quito, Ecuador. It is rather difficult to capture in words the pure beauty and power behind the acceptance speech of Mayor Tri Rismaharini, Surabaya (winner, IHSAI Urban Professional Award 2016) when she accepted her award. No one who heard her remained unmoved. Mayor Tri proved how good leadership, responsible governance and sheer determination can bring about huge positive change in our cities. The newly introduced Urban Professional Youth Award won by PetaJakarta.org gave everyone present at the ceremony new hope and energy for a positive future where young innovative talent is working hard to find excellent solutions for climate resilience. We are convinced that the youth have a strong voice which they can choose to bridge social divides and we need to facilitate this process. Top down leadership or bottom up innovators - we need them all! So bring it on dear fellow alumni! Remember, we are all leaders with our own circle of influence sparked by our own skills and expertise.
For this new year, I encourage you all to pause and reflect on your own choices, your own involvement, your own contribution in the society, consider your impact and influence - beyond profit. While it is always good to reflect, it’s also time to organize around issues we care about. To drive meaningful change, our voices must be tied to action and the impact of our actions is far greater through united efforts with a common cause.
I would love to hear your story of involvement and change in your city, your neighbourhood. Please share it with me or write it for our IHS alumni blog.
Wishing you a wonderful 2017!
On behalf of the IHS AI Board,
About the author:
Mansi Jasuja is an independent consultant working in the field of resilient urban development, climate change impacts and adaption. I am working closely with the Royal Dutch Waternetwork (KNW) and also currently hold the position of President, IHS Alumni International Board (Erasmus University, Rotterdam). Originating from India and living in the Netherlands since the year 2000 has given me the privilege to be a part of multiple worlds. I use the opportunities of having this cultural duality for co-creating creative solutions, networking and facilitating processes. What gives me a lot of energy are interactions that involve catalysing change and inspiring soul-searching that incites moves towards a sustainable world.