Malaysia unveils plan to build 'green economy'

May 18, 2011
A truck carries timber from the heavily-forested region of Baram in Malaysia's eastern Sarawak state. Malaysia says it is launching an ambitious plan to build a "green economy".

Malaysia is launching an ambitious plan to build a "green economy" with the help of an advisory council that includes economist Jeffrey Sachs and the UN climate change chief.

The initiative is part of economic reforms instituted by Prime Minister Najib Razak since taking power two years ago, aimed at pushing the Southeast Asian country towards developed-nation status by 2020.

His administration has already promised major infrastructure projects and financial market liberalisation to attract foreign investment and boost growth, but critics say the results have been limited.

Najib on Tuesday convened the first meeting of an eminent 42-member Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council in New York to help the nation achieve ambitions of becoming a science and technology innovation destination.

Malaysia's vision of a "green economy" would see it moving beyond its status as a manufacturing hub, and establish "low , highly efficient use of resources, and a healthy, well-educated populace."

"Malaysia's ambitious goal is to simultaneously reduce poverty and achieve a green economy," Najib said in a statement from New York.

"We see science and as key to achieving that goal, guided by the advice and active support of some of the world's most distinguished entrepreneurial, scientific and economic experts."

"These experts will liaise and work actively with key Malaysian agencies and institutions to develop 'quick wins' in the , in the creation of a smart city and smart village, and in education."

As well as Sachs and Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the UN's , the panel also includes media tycoon Steve Forbes and two Nobel laureates.

Najib said the council would aim to "raise the number of scientifically and technically-trained individuals, entrepreneurs and innovators in our country."

Malaysia also hopes to develop smart cities and villages, where the Internet is available and resources, such as water and electricity, are managed efficiently through information technology.

Currently, the middle-income nation of 27 million people suffers from urban sprawl and traffic congestion in its capital Kuala Lumpur, and a lack of basic services in rural areas.

Citigroup economist Kit Wei Zheng said Najib's administration had achieved some successes including boosting foreign direct investment, but was under pressure to deliver ahead of elections tipped to be called within a year.

"At least on some fronts, there seem to be some results coming in... There are some steps forward but it's slow and probably not as big as the announcements that are being made," said the Singapore-based economist.

The export-dependent Southeast Asian nation saw a sharp decline in foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2009, tumbling 81 percent to $1.4 billion from $7.3 billion in 2008.

However, FDI jumped 141 percent to 17.1 billion ringgit ($5.5 billion) in the first nine months of 2010, in a rebound partly attributed to the reforms.

Malaysia has previously sought out high-profile international advisers like Microsoft's Bill Gates when it launched its Multimedia Super Corridor project to build up its information technology industry in the 1990s.

"It's a very fuzzy thing; we don't know what it is... The word 'green' is used very broadly," Gurmit Singh, chairman of the Centre For Environment, Technology and Development , said of the latest scheme.

"There seems to be a lot of hot air. In terms of what happens sometimes at the ground level, it's a repackaging of projects," he told AFP.

Najib has said he expects the economy to expand by 5.0-6.0 percent this year despite the challenges of slower global growth and rising crude oil prices.

Explore further: Going nuts? Turkey looks to pistachios to heat new eco-city

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

S.Africa to invest $3.7 bln in green energy

Apr 12, 2011

South Africa will invest 25 billion rand ($3.7 billion, 2.6 billion euros) to support a plan to ramp up renewable energy and the green economy, the economic development minister said Tuesday.

Japan backs firms' green city projects abroad

Jan 06, 2011

Japan is financially backing its companies that are seeking to build "green cities" -- communities with low pollution and renewable energies -- in India and elsewhere, a report said Thursday.

Airlines wary of 2020 carbon-neutral target

Jun 09, 2009

Crisis-hit airlines said Tuesday that a plan to cap the growth of the industry's emissions by 2020 was ambitious and costly but agreed on the urgency of fighting climate change.

Recommended for you

Obama launches measures to support solar energy in US

Apr 17, 2014

The White House Thursday announced a series of measures aimed at increasing solar energy production in the United States, particularly by encouraging the installation of solar panels in public spaces.

Tailored approach key to cookstove uptake

Apr 17, 2014

Worldwide, programs aiming to give safe, efficient cooking stoves to people in developing countries haven't had complete success—and local research has looked into why.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

A homemade solar lamp for developing countries

(Phys.org) —The solar lamp developed by the start-up LEDsafari is a more effective, safer, and less expensive form of illumination than the traditional oil lamp currently used by more than one billion people ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...