SPEECH BY CHIEF MINISTER OF PENANG
DIALOGUE SESSION WITH DELEGATES OF WORLD URBAN FORUM 9
SUNDAY, 11TH FEBRUARY 2018, 8PM
UAB BUILDING, GEORGE TOWN, PENANG
Significant Strategies and Milestones
1. Climate change is here. If you don’t think it is real, just recall the events of the last quarter of 2017 when floods and the worst storm in Penang’s history forcefully knocked on our doors.
2. For the last 30 years, fighting climate change has become a long-term goal for cities all around the world, and Penang is no exception. In fact, being an island state, we must do better by being adaptive and resilient as we are more susceptible than most to the effects of climate change
3. We must be vigilant in safeguarding the charms of Penang – the UNESCO heritage city of George Town, and the islands natural assets – its hills and coasts. We must strive for sustainable practises in our institutions and systems, even within our daily lives, which promotes and protects Penang’s assets, not overwhelm and destroy them.
4. Throughout our term as the incumbent state government of Penang, we have formulated strategies, developed policies and implemented programmes to reduce Penang’s carbon footprint, and to be the leader in all things Green in Malaysia.
5. During our formative years, we launched the Cleaner, Greener Penang initiative to transform Penang into the most environmentally friendly and liveable city in Malaysia.
6. One of the programme’s earliest initiative was the enforced ban on free plastic bags throughout the state on 1 January 2010 which was a necessary step to reduce the state's waste production and carbon footprint.
7. The proceedings from the sale of plastic bags went to the "Partners Against Poverty" Special Fund to assist the state's hardcore poor. This initiative was the first of its kind in Malaysia.
8. Penang is also the first state in Malaysia to have officially declared the ban of the polystyrene food containers. Together, with the reduction in the consumption of plastic bags, it will alleviate Penang’s choked drainage and river systems.
9. To increase mobility and connectivity while moving our dependency away from cars, the state has initiated a free shuttle bus in the city centre for the needs of city-dwellers and visitors alike.
10. In 2011, the idea of dedicated bicycle lanes for Penang were developed to help in the reduction of carbon gas emissions. To date, 90% of the 176km lanes in Penang Island are already developed. While in Seberang Perai, bicycle lanes will cover a 140 km stretch. This initiative will promote Penang as the first state to promote cycling as a healthy activity and reduce dependency on motor vehicles.
11. In 2011, the State Government created the Penang Green Council to research, nurture, facilitate and coordinate environmental causes in Penang.
12. The initiatives under the Penang Green Council include strategies for waste management, to date Penang has achieved the highest recycling rate in the country of 38% as compared to the national recycling rate of 22% and we hope to increase the recycling rate to 40% by 2020.
13. As empathetic global citizens, the Penang State Government has gone against tradition, and has stopped serving shark fin soup to protect the planet’s biodiversity.
14. In March 2017, the Penang State Economic Planning Unit, Penang Green Council (PGC) and Penang Institute put forward the Penang Green Agenda (PGA), a two-year policy planning project aimed at formulating strategies and building resilient communities in Penang to meet and adapt to future environmental challenges by 2030.
15. These are big challenges, initiatives and goals for any government. Luckily, for us, our civil society is strong, and we have many delivery partners with a common vision to create a more sustainable, liveable and resilient Penang.
16. One of our primary partner’s in this endeavour is Think City. Together, we have created the GTCDC (George Town Conservation and Development Corporation) to conserve and promote George Town as a World Heritage City that is welcoming to all and admired by all.
17. Our earliest effort in this partnership was the greening of Carnarvon Street. Next was the transformation of an empty space within George Town into a public park, now called Armenian Park.
18. Other parks include Lebuh Kampung Benggali Pocket Park and Jeti Lama Rain Garden, both in the port town of Butterworth across the island.
19. Some of our most exciting and transformational work for the heritage city is in the area which houses the oldest building in Penang – Fort Cornwallis. Called the North Seafront Masterplan, this project will expand the city’s limited public spaces and improve the public amenities in the area.
20. The fort is currently undergoing archaeological research to unravel layers of its history, and it has become a centre for a school archaeology programme developed by Think City.
21. In the near future, the building will be restored and a moat that used to surround the structure will be reintroduced with the value-add of serving as a stormwater catchment and flood-retention feature.
22. By bringing positive urban transformation to the area, we hope that human-centred investments and green developments will follow suit which will set Penang on the path to a model city for sustainability, liveability and resiliency.
23. Our initiatives to create a cleaner, greener, healthier and safer Penang is well aligned with the New Urban Agenda and well on its way toward achieving the 17 sustainable development goals (SDG).
24. Before I end, I would like to thank the organisers of the World Urban Forum 9 for this opportunity to highlight Penang’s achievements on the world stage.
25. I’d also like to thank Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang (MBPP), Majlis Perbandaran Seberang Perai (MPSP), PlanMalaysia, George Town Conservation and Development Corporation (GTCDC), George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI), Think City, Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) for their partnership and commitment to the conservation and development of George Town into a sustainable, liveable, and resilient city.