Lack of exposure on sustainable development hinders change

Asean countries need their own community plan as the region is quite different from the other parts of the world, says minister

by S BIRRUNTHA/ pic by ARIF KARTONO

AS THE nation moves towards a more sustainable future, only half of Malaysian citizens are aware of the government’s goals and vision on sustainable development, said Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin (picture).

She said the remaining grass-roots community is still in the dark about sustainability, which hampers the change and objectives that the nation wants to achieve.

“Until they understand the relevance of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to their lives, there is no point in having so much technology and development on sustainability. If we could develop a more sustainable community, generation and society, it would facilitate whatever goals we are trying to impose in the future.

“So, I think it’s high time for Asean countries to come together and develop their own mechanism to empower the community to engage in sustainable development,” she told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) after the Asean Sustainable Development Summit 2019 by Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (ASLI) in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Zuraida also said Asean countries need their own community plan as the region is quite different from the other parts of the world.

“We share the same culture, attitude and standard of living, therefore, we have to develop our own set of guidelines to achieve the SDGs. Of course, change also starts from attitude; many Malaysians still do not know how to dispose of their trash properly.

“Previously, we were very slow in imposing laws and legal framework to make sure the country is clean. But with ongoing campaigns, we should be able to see some changes in three to five years’ time.

“Malaysians have to start doing the right things on their own, otherwise we will not prosper or move forward as a nation,” she added.

Meanwhile, speaking of Asean’s overall sustainable development agenda, ASLI chairman Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah said overcoming the implementation challenges is nothing but an urgent imperative.

“The SDGs involve everybody. We are contributing what we can to achieve these goals, but I also think that education and awareness will not give such a drastic result because it will take time, especially in terms of our people changing their habits.

“I think we are slowly getting there. More engagement from different angles such as the private sector, non-governmental organisations, communities and the government is strongly needed,” he told TMR.

The Asean regional economy is currently valued at a total of US$3 trillion (RM12.45 trillion), with over 625,000 million of population.

Cheah also said despite the economic progress, a substantial proportion of Asean’s population has yet to benefit from this growth.

He added that addressing these needs is crucial if Asean is to collectively achieve the SDGs by 2030.

The SDGs are a collection of 17 global goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”. It was set in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly.

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