Transforming Borneo: From Land Exploitation to Sustainable Development


About the Webinar

Borneo, the world’s third-largest island, was long regarded as a relatively ‘marginal’ region in Southeast Asia. However, its position has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years. The plan to relocate Indonesia’s capital to East Kalimantan, accompanied by several mega projects, along with the rise of Sarawak and Sabah in Malaysia’s political landscape, have brought unprecedented attention to Borneo. This is further fuelled by the recent rush for carbon offsetting and renewable energy, which recognizes the island’s abundant carbon stock and potential for hydropower and biomass.

This webinar will focus on how the island has changed over the past two decades across the diverse territories that comprise contemporary Borneo. It aims to provide an overview of Borneo, from big-picture questions to the complexities on the ground, with a particular emphasis on the rapid and large-scale land use changes that have occurred throughout the island since the 2000s. The webinar seeks to offer perspectives on balancing the future, considering the need for economic and social development while steering trajectories towards a better and more sustainable Borneo.

About the Speakers

Chun Sheng Goh, Ph.D. (Utrecht), is an Associate at Harvard University Asia Center. Through his previous roles in various capacities at universities, the Malaysian government, and international organizations, he developed a strong affinity for the unique sustainability challenges and opportunities presented by Borneo. Additionally, Chun Sheng has authored reports for UN-FAO, IRENA, and WWF, covering various topics within the bio- and nature-based economy. His first monograph, ‘Transforming Borneo: From Land Exploitation to Sustainable Development’, co-authored with Lesley Potter, was published in March 2023 by ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.

Associate Professor Lesley Potter has 40 years’ experience conducting field-based research in Indonesia, especially Borneo. After completing her PhD on Guyana for McGill University (Montreal) Lesley moved to the University of Adelaide in 1981, visiting Banjarmasin (South Kalimantan) in 1983. While initially studying Borneo’s forests, she changed her focus to oil palm during the 1990s. After ‘retirement’ in 2003, she moved to the Australian National University (Canberra), with consultancies from the World Bank and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) enabling her to expand her knowledge of palm oil internationally. Lesley has published two books, the first ‘Borneo book’ with Harold Brookfield, assisted by Yvonne Byron (1995): In Place of the Forest: Socio-economic and Environmental Transformations in Borneo and the Eastern Malay Peninsula (Tokyo, United Nations University Press) and the recent volume (2023): Transforming Borneo: From Land Exploitation to Sustainable Development, Chun Sheng Goh and Lesley Potter (Singapore, ISEAS). Lesley has 86 other publications, including shorter monographs, book chapters (many refereed), and 29 refereed journal articles.


This webinar will be delivered online entirely. You can join the webinar at the specified date and time using devices (computer, phone, or tablet) with internet connection.

Please register here to receive your unique link for joining the webinar.

If you have questions for the speakers, please key in your questions via the Q&A, stating your name and affiliation. The moderator will field them to the speakers during the Q&A session.


Jun 16 2023


10:00 am - 11:30 am