The main theme of the conference is SUSTAINING AND DEVELOPING SOUTHEAST ASIA IN THE IR4.0 ERA.

Development is a key concern in Southeast Asia. The development plans in the region borne after the independence era continue to be shaped and tweaked to meet the growing challenges of development in the region.  

The Department of Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Malaya has, in the last two decades, paid much attention to the subject of development in Southeast Asia.  The bi-annual ICONSEA has been a major platform for researchers from both within and outside the region to engage and discuss the many approaches, dimensions and challenges to development in the Southeast Asia/ASEAN region.

 The main themes for the last seven ICONSEA conferences (2005-17) were strongly premised on the development agenda, including change and transformation in the region. These themes include Transformation in Southeast Asia: Facing Challenges in the 21st Century (2005), Southeast Asia: Rethinking Regionalism (2007), Developing Southeast Asia: Challenges and Prospects in the New Millennium (2009), Positioning Southeast Asia in the Globalised World (2011), Southeast Asia Rising (2013), Integrating Southeast Asia (2015) and Rebranding Southeast Asia (2017).

In line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the ICONSEA 8 secretariat proposes to delve deeper into the topic of sustainable development. Sustainable development is not just a buzz word, rather it is highly critical and urgent for the region facing multiple calamities, from natural disasters, poverty, injustice, environmental degradation to general apathy and lack of political will in ensuring sustainable development particularly in the IR 4.0 era.    

Sustainable development involves multiple stakeholders. Sustainability ensures the needs of the present without compromising or depleting potential resources for future generations. Thus the term sustainable development implies that to meet human development goals, humans have to sustain the natural systems’ ability so that it could continue to remain intact and provide the resources and ecosystem services to the economy and society which depends on it. Generally, development is the outcome of a single specific need that rarely considers the broader or future impacts of the action.

This kind of developmental approach could impact financial stability owing to the irresponsible banking system as well as damages to the global climate by extensively using fossil fuel-based energy sources. Unchecked development could result in severe consequences, and to protect ourselves from these consequences, there is a need to step forward and take actions.

As indicated by the United Nations, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. At the core of UN’s approach to development is a balance between different needs and awareness of the social, economic and environmental limitations the people face as a society.

Therefore, sustainable development guarantees the balance between economic growth, care for the environment and social well-being. It is our collective duty to play a part to ensure that development takes place in a sustainable way. However, to achieve sustainability in Southeast Asia, we believe the authorities and the multiple agencies of the governments of Southeast Asian nations need to take the lead. Meanwhile, scholars, activists and non-governmental agencies could play a critical role in providing suggestions and recommendations through their research outputs and findings. These findings discussed and deliberated at international platforms such as the ICONSEA 2019 can lead to positive development models and paths. We, therefore, invite academics, scholars, and researchers to delve deep into the development debate. Some of the subtopics that can be considered, but not limited to, are as follows:

-           Southeast Asian Sustainability Development: Strategies, implementation and impact

-           Poverty and inequality

-           Climate change and environmental degradation

-           Prosperity, peace and justice

-           Modernity, globalization and identity

-           Politics, hegemony and citizenship

-           Culture, heritage and tourism

-           Religion and religiosity in Southeast Asia

-           Language and linguistics in Southeast Asia

-           Education, language, Southeast Asian literature

-           ASEAN, commonality and shared sustainable development and values

-           any other issues related to Southeast Asian Studies