This piece by Laurence Loh calls on all of us to heed the alarm bells set off by the UN about an impending climate genocide. The Penang government in particular has to take the first step by reviewing all its proposals by applying the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as evaluation criteria. It should insist that its project partners be ready to justify their proposals along SDG criteria to independent reviewers and to the people of Penang. They must be prepared to modify them if they are not compatible, or worse, if they are directly contradictory to these SDGs.
The full article by Laurence:
In the light of the unprecedented environmental challenges faced by Planet Earth (the UN says climate genocide is coming and that the planet has only until 2030 to stem catastrophic climate change), two critical initiatives by the Penang state government should have made the front pages.
The first was articulated by Penang Island City Council Mayor Yew Tung Seang in his speech at the Towards Zero Carbon City seminar held on 26 September 2018 that the state’s goal was “to work towards making Penang a zero carbon city”.
The second was the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Penang state government and UN-Habitat, represented by its executive director, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, on 6 October 2018, the aim of which is, to quote the chief minister, “to promote and accelerate the implementation of the Penang 2030, the New Urban Agenda and the urban dimensions of the Sustainable Development Goals to make Penang a resilient city”.
This MOU is the first of its kind between a Malaysian State Government and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, also known as UN-Habitat. The latter is one of the main proponents of the SDGs, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015, that Malaysia is committed to fulfilling by 2030.
One of the key areas of cooperation under this memorandum of understanding is the commitment that the SDGs shall become the basis for the Penang Structure Plan. The state shall also work with UN-Habitat in housing, mobility, transport, urban regeneration, land use and city extension. UN-Habitat has expertise in these areas of planning for sustainable economic and social development, which finds expression in the principles, commitments and call for action in the New Urban Agenda.
The New Urban Agenda was adopted at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable development (Habitat III) in Quito on 20 October 2016. The declaration contains 175 clauses which focus on an all-encompassing implementation plan.
The state and local governments are to be congratulated. They have made firm commitments to protect and safeguard Penang’s future through affirmative actions based on the 17 SDGs, which are about people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership. The events at which the state declared its intentions did not receive extensive publicity. Nevertheless, they will leave their marks in history because they represent a critical tipping point.
So let this be an invitation to people from all walks of life to subscribe to the stated principles and actions and to be part of a positive sea-change.
The year 2008 signified the saving of a heritage city with far-reaching effects; 2018 could signal the saving of a nation. Penang was brave enough to take the lead to promote the listing of George Town as a Unesco world heritage site. It is now leading the nation by partnering with UN-Habitat to be an integral part of a rescue plan to save the world by walking the talk.
The Penang state government must therefore now take the first step by revisiting and reviewing all its plans and public realm proposals by applying the SDGs as evaluation criteria.
It should also insist that project partners be ready to justify their proposals along SDG criteria to independent reviewers and to the people of Penang. They must be prepared to modify them if they are not compatible, or worse, if they are directly contradictory to the very principles that Penang is now so proudly promoting.