Property & Construction Sector Roundtables: Can Malaysia Achieve Net Zero Carbon by 2050?
Roundtable 3: Improving resilience and minimizing ecological damage
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On 19 July 2021, CGM and CEO Action Network convened the third Property & Construction roundtable session on net zero pathways for Malaysia. The session focused on Improving resilience and minimizing ecological damage.
The session was chaired by Dr. Dzaeman Dzulkifli, Tropical Rainforest Conservation and Research Centre. The panellists for the session included:
1. Dato’ Azmir Merican, Sime Darby Property
2. Sofia Castelo, Think City
3. Dr. G. Balamurugan, ERE Consulting Group
Everything that we need to survive depends on biodiversity and climate. The speakers presented a broad range of views on policies in place and those that need to be implemented to improve resilience and control ecological damage from a construction and property sector standpoint.
At the outset, Dr. G. Balamurugan identified the complexity brough about by competing priorities. There is a rising demand on existing resources due to rise in population. The problem also lies in the fact that it is the state governments that are responsible for protecting the environment, but the bulk of state governments’ revenues are directly linked to the use and exploitation of natural resources. Revenue from the modern economy such as tourism goes to the federal government. States are therefore keener on development than protection.
“There are numerous policies which are trying to balance growth with the need to protect the environment and enhance quality of life.” - Dr. G. Balamurugan
However, there has been good progress in the property and construction sector – increasing numbers of property players are looking at climate friendly development through reducing the net loss of biodiversity and implementing biodiversity offsets. Companies are also more willing to conduct biodiversity and carbon audits.
The challenges for the sector lies in the lack of strong leadership for conservation activity and unwillingness of society to pay the increased cost associated with sustainable activities. Government needs to better engage with the private sector and vice versa. There is a lot of good work being done by the private sector which should be highlighted and encouraged.
Ms. Castelo of Think City identified that Climate risk assessments that look at the factors of environment, community and exposure of built environment are essential. Global partnerships are also essential in the climate change era to promote research, knowledge transfer and funding. An integrated approach for both climate mitigation and adaptation needs to be implemented that looks at all sectors. Ideally, it should be a government led approach.
From a city level perspective, Ms. Castelo’s policy proposals included:
- Adopting principles in urban development that aims to reduce climate impacts
- Activate climate action across all levels of city government
- Quantify economic benefits of climate action and share results with city government and public
- Take collaborative climate action at a metropolitan, federal and international scale.
Dato’ Azmir of Sime Darby Property provided an organizational lens to examine the issue of resilience and controlling ecological impact. Property development sector has been resilient to change over the years. To bring about change, there is a need for awareness which can be brought about by tracking numbers to understand impact. We also need to understand that sustainability comes at a price. Industry players that are taking a lead on sustainability initiatives need to be provided a level playing field through incentives.
A national agenda would provide guidance to industry players. This will impact the scale and pace of decision-making amongst the private sector players. Change in this sector will be driven extensively by technology and therefore, investment in research and development would be essential.
"We are all facing the same storm (climate change) but we are not in the same boat. So, when designing policies, we need to keep that in mind and that can be done with increased stakeholder engagement, particularly with the private sector." - Dr. G. Balamurugan
Feedback from the Audience
A short poll conducted the start of the session showed that a clear majority felt that Malaysia should set a net zero emissions target by 2050 while 35% of the audience felt that industrial incentives are required to protect the environment and biodiversity.
Meanwhile, the poll conducted at the end of the session saw 39% support for climate change being the main problem to address through environmental conservation in Malaysia and 53% of the attendees felt that temperature rise will be the climate impact that hits Malaysia strongly.
1. Dr. G. Balamurugan, ERE Consulting Group
2. Sofia Castelo, Think City
3. Dato’ Azmir Merican, Sime Darby Property