RCE Central Semenanjung Translates SDGs into Action for a Sustainable Campus & Community

Since 2015, RCE Central Semenanjung (RCE CS) Malaysia through its secretariat - University Malaya (UM) Community & Sustainability Centre or well-known as 'UMCares' has organised a competition for in-house university students named the 'UMCares Competition'. This year, UMCares along with the strategic partnership of UM Sustainability & Living Labs Secretariat (UMSLLS) have redesigned the competition with the aim to enhance and showcase eco-campus and community initiatives at the UM residential colleges level. Two categories were open for this competition: (i) Community Award (for the community chapter) with the theme 'Quality Education for the Community'; and (ii) Eco Challenge Award (for the environmental chapter) with the theme 'Translating SDGs into Action for a Sustainable Campus'.

Students' activities in residential colleges have been a tradition as part of their journey while studying and staying in the campus. The 'UMCares Competition' acts as a platform to acknowledge and recognise the outstanding social responsibility contribution made by UM students towards the environment and community using SDGs and their targets as one of the evaluation criteria. A total of eight from 11 residential colleges involving close to 100 students participated in this competition, with three winners awarded for each category.

The 'UMCares Competition' in particular aims to:

  1. Increase awareness, understanding and the take-up of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) among the university students.
  2. Recognise exceptional community and sustainability initiatives at the residential colleges level in the UM campus.
  3. Develop UM students' ability in critical thinking, creating econovation (eco-innovation) and increase their interpersonal skills. 
  4. Inculcate sustainability and social responsibility culture among residential colleges’ staff and students.

(Photo: Prize giving ceremony held on 23 June, 2020, adhering to standard protocols pertaining to COVID-19. Photo credit: RCE Central Semenanjung).


UMCares Community Award
This award specifically focuses on the community project and theme for this year which is 'Quality Education for the Community'. Projects were evaluated based on the stakeholder’s involvement, output and outcome of the project, number of beneficiaries, support received (sponsorship), as well as expandability and sustainability of the projects. The criteria were set to educate the students for a comprehensive, strategic and impactful engagement with the communities.

(Photo: 1st Prize Winner for UMCares Community Award. AZALEA (Advance Zoology and Agricultural) Project to instil STEM education to orphaned and underprivileged students with the aim of helping them out of the national poverty line through academic excellence. This project received substantial sponsorship from a telecommunication foundation. Photo credit: RCE Central Semenanjung).


UM Eco-Challenge Award
Under the theme 'Translating SDGs into Action for a Sustainable Campus', all participating colleges were assessed based on four indicators: 1) energy conservation and climate change; 2) waste management; 3) water conservation and management; and 4) green sustainable event. The format of the assessment requires the respective colleges to choose one indicator to be assessed by a panel of judges, however they were encouraged to submit all entries as part of the aim in making a holistic adoption of sustainability practices and initiatives on campus. The award is tailored to the annual University’s event, with focus on the translational eight Core Areas of the UM Eco-Campus Blueprint (UMECB), while mainstreaming the agenda on the SDGs among the campus community - staff and students.

(Photo: Green Paddle Battle as part of awareness and educational campaign to curb the usage of single use plastics especially drinking plastic bottles with this upcycling and competition platform. Photo credit: RCE Central Semenanjung).


A total of 15 projects (seven for the Eco-Challenge Award and eight for the Community Award) were evaluated by a group of panelists which involved relevant partners of RCE Central Semenanjung. Due to restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the evaluation session was conducted online and students showcased their projects through video as part of the interview session. The input and comments provided are expected to be used by the students to carry out better community and environmental projects in the future.

(Photo: In this year's UMCares Competition 2019/2020, both for the community and eco-challenge categories, all participants successfully went through an online assessment as part of the new normal. Photo credit: RCE Central Semenanjung).