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Malaysia needs clear vision to develop green economy

Will everyone benefit equally?

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The Association for Welfare, Community and Dialogue (Acid) welcomes Malaysia and Singapore’s intention to sign a memorandum of cooperation for a green economy.

The Singapore government has shown commitment by involving various stakeholders, which can be observed on CNA.

Malaysia could learn a bit from Singapore on how to get its people involved.

A green economy is described as one in which economic growth and environmental responsibility work together in a mutually reinforcing fashion, while supporting progress on social development.

Business and industry have a crucial role in delivering economically viable products, processes, services and solutions required for the transition.

According to research, a green economy requires the three pillars (economic, social, and environmental) of sustainable development to work in a mutually reinforcing fashion.

All efforts should reconcile the need for short and medium-term profit with longer-term systemic change.

Economic growth is and will be essential to provide the resources and social equity necessary to build capacity and finance needed to transition towards a green economy.

What is clear is this cannot be divorced from socioeconomic equity since it is tied to sustainable development goals, in complete contrast to neoliberal economics that favours a trickle-down approach to wealth.

In Malaysia today, greening seems to take on a gradual approach in the policy stage or among a few big corporations, with the absence of real incentives for small and medium-sized industries to undertake the transition.

The people, considered to be an important stakeholder in future transition, seem unprepared since their real focus is on bread-and-butter issues related to inflation, corruption and the rise of right-wing politics detrimental to the common good.

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In a nutshell, over the years the government, business entities and other stakeholders have not been able to provide clarity of vision on what constitutes a transition towards a green economy, when they have been weakened by ethno-religious politics and corporate corruption.

The greatest folly would be to perceive the green economy as another mere capitalist endeavour, which would end up narrowing it down to business opportunities and job creation, while ignoring its value in long term systemic change that not only reduces the carbon imprint but also involves all stakeholders – from the people to local government – in adhering to sustainable development goals.

This would require systemic structural change to how institutions work.

For example, there would be a need for decentralisation in decision-making on greening and enhancing the socioeconomic wellbeing of the people.

To navigate the challenges, the government should provide clarity of vision and information on how it intends to move towards a green and sustainable economy.

Currently much of the green economy literature points to potential economic and climate action benefits, but all countries have different socioeconomic realities that need to be carefully examined to understand what type of policy can benefit Malaysia.

To do this, we need to use hard data to show how climate action and shifting to a green economy, will have overwhelming benefits, both for the environment and by promoting economic growth that generates more jobs.

We need to measure the environmental, social and economic implications of climate policies and investments. This involves not only looking at the data but also asking questions, such as, will everyone benefit equally?

READ MORE:  Prioritise urban poverty over smart green cities

What would investment in hydropower plants or green infrastructure mean?

Would this create jobs only for skilled urban workers or would it also benefit women working in the informal economy?

Are the skills, labour and technology to build and run such projects domestically available?

By identifying the synergies and trade-offs between climate action, and broader development priorities and needs, policymakers can enhance the positive impacts of recovery packages and drive systemic changes. This work has already taken place in many developing countries.

We could learn from countries like Costa Rica and Colombia, which have embarked on a tropical carbon tax strategy and how it has created an impact on their economies.

Therefore, it is vital for the government to take on these questions, learn from references and provide clarity to stakeholders with greater vigour as it cooperates with Singapore. – The Malaysian Insight

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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Benedict Loez
25 Jan 2023 8.04am

Not only Singapore, but we can learn a lot on how to develop a green economy if we emulate the Scandinavian countries.

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