New govt should pay more attention to environmental issues, says MyHutan

The NGO demands Malaysian leaders to exercise 5 qualities — expertise, integrity, commitment, implementation and inclusivity


THE Malaysian Youth for Forest Action (MyHutan) hopes that ministers in the new Cabinet would be competent and committed to address environmental issues.

This is in response to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report, which aims to set a limit of global warming by 1.5°C.

The NGO demands Malaysian leaders to exercise five qualities — expertise, integrity, commitment, implementation and inclusivity — when taking care of the environment, climate change, biodiversity and natural resources.

“We do not merely expect expertise and literacy that goes beyond the academic qualifications and experiences in the sciences, but also the understanding of ministerial affairs.

“This includes, but is not limited to, a proven track record of navigating policies regarding sustainability, politically astute involvements, as well as excellent stakeholder engagement,” MyHutan said in a statement.

They believe in the collaboration between relevant ministries and the public, such as civil society organisations, international bodies and vulnerable communities.

MyHutan also hopes to seek a transparent ministerial institution, as well as one that is free from the abuse of power, corruption and misappropriation of funds, where these would face serious consequences.

Therefore, they urged that the ministers for the new Cabinet not to have any criminal records, while they must have compassion for vulnerable communities and a promise to preserve the environment itself.

“In addition, to further drive the research and development sector in the country, we seek for all findings and data by the ministerial institution to be #OpenByDefault.

“This allows for more research transparency and grants more academic opportunities for researchers or students to make use of the data,” it said.

MyHutan also urged that the future ministers address the scientific yet urgent findings pertaining to the planet, in line with the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

“Additionally, the World Bank’s Climate Risk Country Profile on Malaysia highlighting the dangerous impacts of climate change in the country such as extreme weather events and exacerbated inequalities are distressing.”

The group said it is important that the ministers uphold the country’s alignment with the Paris Agreement, the Sustainable Development Goals and the Convention on Biological Diversity by devoting themselves to science.

MyHutan also hopes that they would improve education, strengthen legislations and employ new sustainable innovations.

Climate literacy and environmental awareness in Malaysia’s education system should be enhanced.

“Additionally, it is pivotal to employ strategic approaches that include strong legislations, good environmental governance and better enforcement through amending the Environmental Quality Act 1974 and Wildlife Conservation Act 2010,” MyHutan added.

Malaysia needs to implement clean technologies, nature-based solutions, as well as policy and legislative instruments through the Ecological Fiscal Transfer, Payment for Environmental Services, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation programme and carbon tax.

“These are crucial to achieving net-zero emissions, minimise pollution, prevent further biodiversity decline and build resilience against the effects of the ecological and climate crises.”

The NGO also warned that environmental issues would affect vulnerable communities that require inclusive platforms, policy responses and legislation.

Therefore, MyHutan advises that the ministers should utilise methods that promote inclusivity such as meaningful participation, acknowledgement and respect of indigenous land rights, gender-responsive climate action and mending the inequality gap.

“We at MyHutan strongly remind the incoming government that our forests and natural resources are not for exploitation as the climate and ecological crises are those that go beyond the environment. They will lead to political and socio-economic struggles and will cost the Malaysian government billions of ringgit and lead to the suffering of millions of Malaysians.”

While people should be at the centre of policies, MyHutan also wished that the needs of women, indigenous people, as well as children, should also be addressed and highlighted more.