26 April, 2010

Malaysia Green Forum 2010


Bismillahirrahmanirrahim

Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh, selamat pagi dan salam 1Malaysia.

YABhg Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
Perdana Menteri Malaysia Ke-5 dan Penasihat Landskap Malaysia

YABhg Tun Jeanne Abdullah
Pengerusi Landskap Malaysia

YB Dato’ Sri Douglas Uggah Embas
Menteri Sumber Asli dan Alam Sekitar

YBhg Tan Sri Samsudin Osman
Presiden Perbadanan Putrajaya

YBhg Profesor Dato’ Nik Mustapha Abdullah
Naib Canselor, Universiti Putra Malaysia

Alhamdulillah, saya mengucapkan rasa syukur setingginya ke hadrat Allah SWT kerana dengan limpah kurnia dan izin-Nya jua maka dapat kita sama-sama hadir pada pagi ini ke Majlis Perasmian Malaysia Green Forum 2010 (MGF2010). Terlebih dahulu, izinkan saya untuk merakamkan penghargaan dan terima kasih kepada pihak penganjur di atas penghormatan yang diberikan kepada saya untuk merasmikan persidangan ini.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I am delighted to be here with you this morning, as my presence here allows the government with an opportunity to reiterate its resounding commitment towards environmental sustainability in the country. For this, I would like to congratulate the co-organizers of this forum – Landskap Malaysia, Universiti Putra Malaysia and Perbadanan Putrajaya. I would like to make a special note of recognition to Yang Amat Berbahagia Tun Jeanne Abdullah, the Chairman of Landskap Malaysia for advancing environmental and landscape issues in the country.

2. The forum’s aim of establishing an action-oriented network that deals with environmental issues in a holistic manner is indeed refreshing and most welcomed. I was made to understand that MGF2010 has drawn the participation of senior government officials, industry captains, society leaders and academic experts from within and outside the country. I hope a meeting of these brilliant minds would be able to come up with creative, innovative and pragmatic solutions to the green issues we face today, taking full consideration of the country’s inherent strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats. After all Malaysia is one of the countries with the richest biodiversity in the world, prized with 16 million hectares of tropical forest area, which covers 60 per cent of the country’s land area. Preservation of this asset is key to sustainability and I am proud of the fact that over 73 per cent of the total forest area in this country is currently protected as national parks.

3. As we have already seen in the past three decades, green issues have become a world concern, and the issues have in turn traveled the world over and back. From the Rio Summit to Kyoto Protocol to Bali Road Map and recently the Copenhagen Accord. Progress however, have been slow and rather unconvincing.

4. In truth, moving forward towards environmental sustainability are not without its unique obstacles and Malaysia certainly faces a fair share of the challenges that lie ahead. For one, the lack of awareness about the impact of irresponsible activities to our environment is disheartening. This has led to environmental degradation and destruction by the very beneficiaries of the environment ie ourselves. There is still a lot of work to be done in convincing people to own up for their actions and attune their behavior for the benefit of the environment.

5. Another equally daunting impediment is finding a cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels that are gradually depleting. As we know, this is a resource that will become increasingly scarce, escalate in price and will eventually run out. Whether we realize it or not, we are in a race with the world to wean ourselves from dependence on this resource. And the only way forward seems to be the currently costly migration to renewable energy.

6. The third hurdle is the technology gap. There is still a high level of dependency on developed countries for access to cutting edge green technology. In addition, most of these technology applications are too expensive and impedes wider usage. For instance, despite the abundance of sunlight in Malaysia, the use of solar power is still limited due to the colossal cost involved. Typically a rooftop photovoltaic system that powers a four room house costs more than RM150,000. Although improvements in technology and economies of scale are driving the price down, as it stands, it is still largely beyond the reach of the average household.

7. To sum up, the three biggest challenge we face with regards to environmental sustainability are environmental awareness, renewable energy and cost effective green technology. I wish to put across these challenges for your reflection and I am sure that it would provide ample food for thought for two days worth of discussion.
Ladies and Gentlemen,

8. We are one of the earliest nations in the world to have adopted a serious concern towards our environment by enacting the Environment Quality Act way back in 1974. Likewise the very concept of sustainability was an integral part of our Third Malaysia Plan, even before the idea of Sustainable Development was popularised in the late eighties by the Brundtland Report. In this regard, I would like to recognize the critical contribution by Yang Amat Berbahagia Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for bringing together 14 agencies from 4 different ministries when he established the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in 2004 that paved the way for a more comprehensive and cohesive approach in tackling environmental issues.

9. Indeed, the government has consistently affirmed its commitment to environmental sustainability over the years and I pledge to continue this throughout my administration. Only six days after taking office, I announced the formation of the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water. The government continues to take cognizance of the growing need and urgency of green technology towards sustainable development. Hence the National Green Technology Policy was launched last year, just 106 days after the setting up of the said ministry. A technical arm called The National Green Technology Center also came to being through a restructuring exercise of the then Malaysia Energy Centre.

10. This was then followed by both monetary allocations and non-monetary provisions towards developing green technology that I made as Minister of Finance, when presenting Budget 2010. While recently, the New Economic Model that I revealed last month, puts sustainability as one of the three goals of the economic transformation programme and aspires to place Malaysia as a green hub all the way along the business development continuum – from research to design to manufacturing to commercialization. This further underscores the government’s seriousness in taking a holistic approach towards environmental management.

11. I am pleased to note that this forum is organized to support my statement at the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Conference in December 2009 where we will make an ambitious attempt to reduce our carbon dioxide emission by as much as 40% compared to 2005 levels, conditional upon transfer of technology and finance from developed nations. I wish to express that I am personally keeping a close tab on the accomplishment of this goal. As chairman of the Green Technology Council, I am pleased to inform that preparation and adoption of the Framework of the Road Map that initially focuses on the energy, waste and forestry sectors is swiftly under way.

12. Malaysia has never underestimated the role of trees in oxygen creation, temperature moderation and carbon sequestration. Unlike many “hi-tech” mitigation solutions, trees, once planted, practically function automatically to clean as well as to cool the air. In this respect, I am more than pleased with the announcement by the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment last week of a campaign to plant 26 million trees from 2010 to 2014.

13. Similarly last month the Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister announced the phasing out of the incandescent lamp by 2014. Giving up the use of these bulbs would help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 732,000 tonnes a year. Moreover the shift to more energy-efficient bulbs will help reduce energy usage in the country by 1,074 gigawatts a year or 1% of the total current usage and this translates into savings of RM336 million a year in energy costs. Even though compact fluorescent lamps generally costs 3 to 10 times more than incandescent bulbs, if you look at its usage life of up to 10 times longer, then that is definitely value for money for you and your environment.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

14. Environmental sustainability can only fully materialize if there is a complete and holistic ecosystem that allows for it. The government is aware of this fact and have taken this approach in gearing the nation towards this aim. I have identified six major components of this ecosystem and together they form the acronym AFFIRM. They are:

o Awareness;
o Faculty;
o Finance;
o Infrastructure;
o Research, Development and Commercialization; and
o Marketing

Awareness

15. As I have mentioned earlier, shallow public attitude that takes our environment for granted and regard it as a resource to be exploited for profit generation and personal gain is certainly regrettable. For example, when it comes to waste management,Malaysians need get past the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. This not only applies to tangibles such as solid, liquid household and industrial wastes, but also intangibles such as heat. The country is in a dire need for a total public awareness on environmental sustainability at all levels of the society and the government can never achieve this on its own. Only through synergistic efforts of the public sector, private sector and civil society, including non-government organisations can this be attained.

Faculty

16. Next is faculty and by that I am referring to the ability and skill of human capital, developed through education and training rather than the better known meaning – one of the departments of learning in a university. In this regard, the government is working hard with other stakeholders in developing and introducing green topics in the school syllabus and curriculum of higher learning institutions. A system for formulation of grading and certification mechanisms for competent personnel in green technology is also under way. This is an important aspect as it supplies the “green collar” jobs that will in turn help in developing local green technology and spur the transformation into a “green economy.”

Finance

17. Thirdly, providing effective financial incentives will be crucial in driving businesses to explore green technology and adopt green practices. For this, a green technology soft loan scheme has been launched with a fund amounting to RM1.5 billion. This fund will provide soft loans to companies that supply and utilise green technology. For suppliers, the maximum financing is RM50 million and for consumer companies RM10 million. The Government will bear 2% of the total interest rate. In addition, the Government will provide a guarantee of 60% on the financing amount, with the remaining 40% by banking institutions. On the other hand, the government is also considering tax incentives such as tax deduction for contribution towards environmental funds and tax breaks for buildings and designs that work harmoniously with nature. Details of which will only be unveiled upon presentation of Budget 2011.

Infrastructure

18. In infrastructure, the government is moving towards initiating a green township in Putrajaya and Cyberjaya as well as developing our very own guideline and rating scale based on carbon footprint base line to be adopted and applied in Green Townships in the country. This is important as many still do not realise the extent of environmental costs generated through home and industrial waste. Thus, the significance of green community cannot be neglected as it affects the consumers’ behaviour and preferences which are the powerful pull factors in driving the private sector to go green.

Research, Development & Commercialisation

19. Though green technologies help provide environmental sustainability, their initial costs however hinder wider applications. To make it more accessible to the man on the street, research, development and commercialization must focus on reducing the cost of purchasing smart devices and technologies so that all levels of the society can contribute towards environmental sustainability. And since environmental issues are global in nature, I would like to encourage local research centres and industries alike to look for global solutions by partnering with strong foreign green institutions, be it from the universities or multinational companies.

Marketing

20. They say a good product is only as good as its marketing. Through SIRIM, the government is embarking towards developing eco-labeling for local products which will be internationally recognized. This can then support the government green procurement initiative as well as assist local manufacturers to export their products overseas. There is also a need to promote greater labeling of environmentally friendly goods and services for easier identification by consumers such as “Energy Efficiency Star Rating”, “Organic food” and “Green Building Index.” This will be critical in securing buy-in from the public in supporting the “green economy.”

21. In conclusion, AFFIRM is the holistic approach taken by the government in completing an ecosystem for environmental sustainability. Affirm means to express commitment to something and with this notion in mind, I seek the commitment of all stakeholders in committing towards environmental sustainability in Malaysia. I hope and call upon every Malaysian to work towards completing this ecosystem and becoming one with the ecosystem so that we may achieve satisfactory levels of environmental sustainability in Malaysia, Insyaallah. And in the spirit of 1Malaysia, I dream that we would all work together instead of against another so that we may extend this call to the world at large and collectively, change the landscape of the earth for the betterment of future generations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

22. Before I end, once again I would like to praise the organizers of Malaysia Green Forum 2010 for taking the initiative to organize this noble conference. My appreciation also to the forum partners Sime Darby Berhad, UEM Group Berhad and TSR Capital Berhad for coming forward to demonstrate your corporate social responsibility in supporting this forum. I am happy to see that MGF2010 has united leaders and experts from very diverse backgrounds on a platform where environmental issues can be dealt with more holistically. I wish all of you great success in your deliberations and may I state that this government welcomes all constructive ideas that could make this blessed country greener and more sustainable. I strongly believe it is our generational responsibility to ensure that we bequeath to our children a Malaysia that is as pristine as we inherit from our forefathers.

23. Akhir sekali, dengan lafaz Bismillahirrahmanirrahim saya dengan sukacitanya merasmikan Malaysia Green Forum 2010.

Wabillahi Taufik Walhidayah Wassalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh.

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