WWF-MALAYSIA urges all political parties to include strong environmental and climate commitments in their manifesto in the lead up to the 15th General Election (GE15) campaign.
Malaysians are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of protecting the environment. We have seen the devastation caused by extreme weather events — from floods and landslides, to prolonged drought, forest fires and haze. The resulting loss of lives and properties are a grave reminder that our nation faces long-term significant climate risks.
We believe Malaysians are keen to elect leaders who will formulate and uphold environmental plans and policies that benefit nature, people and the economy. Youths, especially, are most negatively affected by climate change and loss of nature. Many youths would be voting for the first time in GE15 and it is in their interest to elect a government that is equally interested in their long-term future.
Guided by our vision to reverse nature’s decline and transform Malaysia into a sustainable nation by 2030, WWF-Malaysia calls upon all our political leaders and aspirants to embrace our 10 strategic goals that include conservation, sustainable production, restoration and reducing humanity’s ecological footprint.
One of the goals is achieving net-zero emissions to combat climate change. Creating pathways towards reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions require switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy. It also entails improved agriculture and forestry practices, adoption of energy efficient systems across various industrial sectors, and better waste management.
However, as global temperatures continue to rise and the drastic impact of climate change becomes unavoidable, we need to leverage on nature-based solutions such as protecting our existing forest that covers about 55% of our total land mass. This absorbs GHG, while simultaneously improving efforts to restore degraded forest. As a responsible member of the global community, Malaysia must not waver in its commitment to become carbon-neutral by 2050.
Apart from making our lives healthier, a carbon-neutral economy makes our country globally competitive. Our goods and services would gain better access to environmentally-sensitive markets, thus creating new revenue streams and more than 300,000 jobs.
For this reason, we call upon future government leaders to embrace our strategic goals of permanently protecting forests and key biodiversity areas in the marine environment (which is another carbon sink). This can be done through legislation, restoring our degraded forest, as well as ensuring 100% compliance with the principles of sustainability in the production of timber, palm oil, rubber and fishery.
Our wildlife — which makes Malaysia stand out as a mega biodiversity hotspot — is safeguarded by a healthy natural environment and an economy underpinned by sustainable natural resources management. All these contribute to the quality of living in Malaysia.
After all, healthy ecosystems provide many crucial services and functions that enable the people and economy to thrive. There should also be continued efforts to protect our critically endangered Malayan tigers — currently numbering fewer than 150 in Malaysia — from the brink of extinction.
To the youths — especially first-time voters — we ask that you use your vote to safeguard your future from climate change and environmental crises. We encourage you to speak up; ask political parties how they plan to address climate change and biodiversity loss. Ask candidates what might be the disasters brought on by climate change in your constituency in the next 20 to 30 years; and how they will be fixed.
We need short-term and long-term solutions. You, especially, are in it for the long haul. If political parties include strong commitments to resolve climate change and biodiversity loss in their manifesto, then it is an assured win no matter who forms the government. And, of course, we need to hold leaders to their word.
To GE15 candidates, please make environmental considerations when planning and executing public-funded projects to ensure that nature and wildlife are not sacrificed in the pursuit of short-sighted progress and economic development. Development brings many benefits to the people and country such as connectivity, economic growth, investments and job opportunities. All these will be at risk if we neglect our commitment to protect nature, biodiversity and our people.
The country must continue to embrace good governance by enacting and effectively enforcing policies and regulations that foster good behaviour among all sectors of society and transform Malaysia into a sustainable nation.
WWF-Malaysia has been actively lobbying for progressive policies in environmental conservation, as well as climate change adaptation and mitigation. But it is just as important for voters to realise that their voice does not stop at the ballot box. Continue rallying your elected representatives to champion the environment.
Established in 1972, WWF-Malaysia works to sustain the natural world for the benefit of people and wildlife, and is part of WWF, the international conservation organisation.