Transition to sustainable future in focus at Cooler Earth Sustainability Summit 2022

Themed ‘Facilitating a Just Transition’ and broadcasted virtually to make it more accessible to local and global audiences 


INDONESIA has learnt a “very important lesson” from the havoc unleashed as nations the world over tried to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“The pandemic has taught us a very important lesson. It is that we should take the climate agenda seriously. This crisis can be considered as a warning of what could be worse to come — that is the climate crisis,” Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said at the recent Cooler Earth Sustainability Summit in Kuala Lumpur. 

Indeed, this was just one of the lessons that were shared at the four-day summit that featured a series of keynote presentations and panel sessions with industry leaders and sustainability figures, as well as capacity-building masterclasses. 

Themed “Facilitating a Just Transition”, this year’s hybrid summit was held both physically in Kuala Lumpur, and broadcasted virtually to make it more accessible to local and global audiences, with on-ground experiential learning sessions across Asean. 

In his keynote address, Sultan Nazrin spoke about transitioning to a better world (Pic: Muhd Amin Naharul)

In his keynote address, Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Shah spoke about transitioning to a better world. He said Malaysia must adjust the mechanisms of its growth trajectory to ensure that it respects the natural limitations that are imposed by the planetary boundaries. 

“So, rather than reduce our energy usage per se, what we need to do is to shift it away from unsustainable and damaging fossil fuels, and towards far greater usage of renewable sources,” he said. 

He also called for much better regulatory and administrative coordination between the agencies that manage environmental matters.

“We need to put into place an eco-system-based approach that includes all stakeholders and always place broad-based social and economic inclusion at the centre of our sustainability strategies,” he added. 

Malaysia, Indonesia Reaffirms Commitment for Fight Climate Change 

Tengku Zafrul says Malaysia must be bolder and more ambitious in addressing issues such as compliance costs and capacity building for developing nations (Pic: Muhd Amin Naharul)

The summit began with a ministerial panel session titled “Accelerating Climate Action and Justice”, featuring Malaysian Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz and his counterpart Sri Mulyani, moderated by United Nations Resident Coordinator in Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam and Singapore Karima El Korri. 

Tengku Zafrul said Malaysia must be bolder and more ambitious in addressing issues such as compliance costs and capacity building for developing nations. He noted that transitioning to low carbon and circular economies could create 100 million new jobs by 2030, according to the International Labour Organisation. 

“However, we must not underestimate the magnitude and difficulty of the transformations that will be required, especially in developing countries. It is critical that we consider the quality of employment in addition to the quantity of jobs that we seek to create, to make up for the potential jobs which will be displaced,” he said. 

Thus, he said the policies shaping the green transition must also promote social and economic equity. Additionally, the Malaysia Finance Ministry is currently finalising the Integrated National Financing Framework to scale up Malaysia’s green agenda which will be tailored to the country’s needs and requirements. 

“In addition, we are also developing a more comprehensive, unified and explicit framework for sustainable finance through the Sustainable Finance Roadmap,” he added. 

On the other hand, Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelagic state, is one of the most vulnerable to climate change. Thus, Sri Mulyani said the transition to a green economy is to protect Indonesia from the catastrophic impact of climate change. She said Indonesia has utilised various fiscal policies and public financial management processes in addressing climate issues. 

“Indonesia is taking a complex step forward for this energy transition design. We want to support this climate change agenda by losing 29% of our CO2 emission by 2030,” she said. 

Indonesia also aims to increase the country’s global energy mix to 23% by 2025 and achieve net zero emission by 2060 or sooner.

Last year, Indonesia launched a partnership with the multi-national platform Energy Transition Partnership to develop an energy transition mechanism in South-East Asia to speed up the retirement of coal-fired power plants and promote more renewable energy development.

Nonetheless, she noted that the transition to green energy would definitely require a medium- and long-term commitment. 

“We are preparing a roadmap policy and infrastructure legislation, and also assessing social impact mitigation. In this transition, there will be an opportunity for new greener investment,” she added. 

Indonesia is also planning to introduce a carbon market that will create a more credible commitment in the short and medium term to mitigate the negative impact of the green economy. 

All Have Roles to Play in Sustainability Transition 

The summit continued with the discussion among notable business players from Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, focusing on “The Business Case for Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy”. 

Highlighting the summit’s theme of “just transition”, Boston Consulting Group MD and partner Dave Sivaprasad said the keywords defined as winning the economy fair, inclusive and possible for everyone to have decent work opportunities so none will be left behind. “It is an aspiration that we all are striving for and one that is important for Asean,” Sivaprasad said. 

He views the importance and the needs of multiple constituents and stakeholders across the economy to take part in transitioning to a sustainable future. 

“The public sector plays a role in shaping policy, regulations and market structure, and corporates play a role in areas such as preparing the workforce for the future. Investors play a role in steering capital towards green sectors and green technologies, while civil society plays a key role in advocating for the access to benefits of people that may be adversely affected,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the transition to a sustainable future will also involve multi-levels of impacts that need to be managed in several stages including asset level, regional, national and cross-country impacts. 

This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition.