SPEECH BY HE DATO’ IBRAHIM ABDULLAH, AMBASSADOR OF MALAYSIA TO FRANCE DURING THE SYNTHESIS LAUNCH OF THE OECD REPORT “URBAN GREEN GROWTH IN DYNAMIC ASIA AT THE OECD ON 10 NOVEMBER 2016
Congratulations to the OECD team on the conclusion of the “Urban Green Growth in Dynamic Asia” report.
Compared to other big Malaysian cities that have been on the map for a longer time – quite literally – Iskandar is a relatively new development. Newer developments tend to grow at a faster pace as compared to the more established ones and Iskandar is no exception. Unlike the older Malaysian cities where many have made travel plans, there is no sauntering about in the old section of Iskandar and stepping into the bloodstream of our rich history that has really shaped our country. However applying the best practices of green growth into the development of Iskandar could promise to be history in the making for Malaysia.
In this connection, extracting lessons from the report would provide a sense of comfort that the development of Iskandar remains on track to be geared for global competitiveness while taking into account green growth aspects. In line with stimulating economic growth and increasing liveability, we must ensure residents in cities like Iskandar continue benefiting from affordable urban housing, green and open spaces, along with adequate and most importantly functional public transportation systems. Finding success in doing so would lock in green infrastructure in Iskandar that will bring lots of benefits for many decades down the line.
Currently, Iskandar, an emerging urban region located in southern Peninsular Malaysia, is the fastest growing metropolitan area in Malaysia and comprised of a population of 1.8 million spread across five local government areas and a territory of 2,217 km2. Iskandar is indeed also home to a prosperous and expanding urban economy. Between 2005 and 2013, Iskandar’s Gross Regional Product almost doubled in absolute terms. During the same time period, the economy has enjoyed annualised GRP growth of 8.3% higher than average compared to others.
Malaysia welcomes the possibility of the OECD extending the territorial review as well as urban policy review to Malaysia. It is also noted that the OECD is currently preparing a green growth report exclusively focusing on Iskandar. Building on the proposal from PEMANDU to conduct a similar study on the greater KL region, we would like to propose for the next exercise to be carried out on more traditionally established cities in Malaysia including but not limited to UNESCO world heritage sites such as Melaka and Penang as well as bustling metropolitans such as Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, and Kota Kinabalu. There are lots of important lessons that can be gleaned from having a green growth study on any one of those cities. Gaining insights from the OECD on this respect therefore would be highly appreciated.
As with the rest of the world, Malaysia is grappling with the challenge of balancing a growing population and demand for progress and development in a natural environment that is increasingly under stress. In the global context of increasing intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, adopting green growth continues to occupy our minds. This represents Malaysia’s commitment to renew and, indeed, increase our commitment to the environment and long-term sustainability as well as achieve the objectives and guidelines stipulated under COP21.
Green growth will be a fundamental shift in how Malaysia sees the role of natural resources and the environment in its socio-economic development, protecting both development gains and biodiversity at the same time. Building a socio-economic development strategy that will increase the resilience to climate change and natural disasters remains critical. To pursue green growth, the enabling environment will be strengthened particularly in terms of policy and regulatory framework, human capital, green technology investment, and financial instruments. This enabling environment will facilitate a shift in the economy, particularly in the private sector, towards more sustainable patterns of consumption and production. This transformation will ensure sustainability of the nation’s natural resources, minimise pollution, and ultimately improve the wellbeing and quality of life of the Malaysian public.
With the intention of exceeding expectations placed by the public on our government and honouring international commitments, the Eleventh Plan strives for a future that is built on sound macroeconomic policy, inclusiveness so that no Malaysian is left behind, improved wellbeing for all, human capital development that is future-proof, green and sustainable growth, infrastructure that supports economic expansion, and a citizen-centric public service with high productivity. Collectively, these improvements will ensure that everyone, regardless of gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status and geographic location, can live in a truly harmonious and progressive society that bears the mark of an advanced economy and inclusive nation.
Our government mind-set has also trickled down to the development of Iskandar. IRDA bought in as they have made it a priority to achieve sustainable development by transforming Iskandar into a green and low carbon region through landscape and ecology preservation. Towards this end, factored prominently in the development of Iskandar is the proactive use of parks and other venues for recreation as essential means for enhancing individual well-being and community vitality, economic sustainability and resource protection and conservation.
Knowing green growth will remain part of the global conversation, there will always be a need to have quality publications prescribing sound evidence based policy advice in this field. As the cities covered in the case studies are cheered on to continue our good work in respect to green growth, we can honour the tremendous effort poured into this publication by examining the truth in the report and weighing it objectively on its own merit. Recognising all governments share the same interest to identify and pursue the best enabling strategies for implementing urban green growth, Malaysia has a good feeling that the launch will reinvigorate important discussions on this issue. Let us continue the conversation so that we can right ship when needed and respond quickly to challenges and needs as it arises while moving in the direction of green growth.
Once again congrats to the team for the successful launching of the report.