Saturday, January 28, 2012

Talking About A Greener Kuala Lumpur

Green tidings! Malaysia has been ranked 25th out 132 countries in the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) 2011 at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland yesterday (source). That’s the best in Asean and 3rd in Asia-Pacific, preceded only by Japan and New Zealand. Despite our popular belief that our air is polluted and not healthy enough to breathe in, the international committee honoured us with an amazing 97.3% performance score in terms of air quality. We also scored a 95% in agriculture 95% and 90.1% in biodiversity and habitats. Other aspects evaluated include climate change, fisheries, forestry and water pollution. This amazing feat puts us in the same league as those of high scoring countries such as Germany, Iceland, Finland, Denmark, Japan and Belgium.
The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) was developed by Yale University and Columbia University in collaboration with the World Economic Forum and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission
 This new benchmark announced by the WEF proved that despite the rapid transformation going on in our country, our environments are still taken care. It reiterates my point in last post ‘Talking about a Greater KL’ that modernization must never be at the expense of natural environment. I think a good way to judge a country’s environment is to look at the place where it is most likely to be polluted: the big cities. If the environment in the big cities is taken care of, most likely the whole country would follow suit. Many people don’t realize that Kuala Lumpur is indeed a green city. I have visited numerous cities around the world, and realized that most modern cities do not have much trees planted around them. They do have big parks (like the Central Park in New York City), but the greeneries are only concentrated on a piece of land, while the other parts of the city are filled with concrete. In our city, the streets are lined by trees, and even small pieces of land in roundabouts are used to landscape small gardens (and we still have pieces of land concentrated with greeneries smacked right in the city centre such as the KLCC Garden, Taman Tasik Perdana and Taman Tasik Titiwangsa).

Taman Tasik Titiwangsa

If we maintain this standard, we are well on our way to our target of being the top 20 most liveable cities by the year 2020. But however, according to WHO standards we are still falling behind. Today, the amount of green space per person in Kuala Lumpur is only 12 square metres, which is below the WHO standards of 16 square metres per person. That is why the government under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) has made ‘Greening Greater KL/KV to Ensure Every Resident Enjoys Sufficient Green Space’ as one of its Entry Point Projects (EPP). Three key initiatives will be taken to realise 3 goals. The first is to adopt a green-focused development policy for both government and private redevelopments. Second, to employ creative landscaping methods including dense foliage tree planting, rooftop greening and vertical landscaping, and third, to integrate parks and promote outdoor events, where integrated park systems will be created to include parks of all sizes, landscaped boulevards and paths and public open spaces, where different open spaces in the city are connected through green trails. 
Many KL-ites themselves do not realize that we have green icons which stretch from Masjid Negara to Tugu Negara comprising of the Islamic Arts Museum, Planetarium Negara, Memorial Tun Abdul Razak, Panggung Anniversary, Perdana Botanical Garden, Orkid Garden, Deer Park, Bird Park, Butterfly Park and Tugu Negara. These attractions could be developed and combined into a big stretch of park with green trails connecting them to lure the green-inclined tourists. The benefits of growing a green city are infinite. For the citizens, it would improve liveability through a more comfortable living environment and creating space for healthy recreational activities. It would also create a sustainable environment by reducing inner city temperature and greenhouse gases. Economically, it would indirectly contribute to our gross national income through commercial activities and attracting more investors, especially from the west where ‘green policy’ has always been of concern and inquired when making business dealings.

All these initiatives gave a new hope to our country, but we cannot just depend on the policy makers to maintain and improve this standard of environment without ourselves as citizens, the essence of Malaysia itself to take part. Taking part doesn’t mean we have to do garden landscaping around the city or picking up all the rubbish we can find around the city (though it would be great if you can). As everything else great in the world, it all starts with small steps, like by creating awareness. Start by simply making and effort to stop open burning, stop throwing rubbish into drains and rivers and start using public transports and carpooling. Stop being so pessimistic saying ‘We will never be like this country, we will never be like that country’, because as what the world rankings has shown recently, yes we will, and maybe even better! As a fellow young citizen of Malaysia, I am going to take part in this green transformation going on in Malaysia. Are you?


chimidama said...

Oh my..I'm so proud being Malaysian!
I was aware with all the green effort that gov has made, but I don't expect it will be this good.

Go green!

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