GE 14 Open Letter to All Political Parties, by NGOs concerned about the environment

To: Presidents of all political parties in Malaysia

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by 193 countries, including Malaysia, in September 2015 at the United Nations Summit encompass environmental, social and economic dimensions. These are now considered as universal goals for development and indicators of a country’s well-being.

We believe that environmental conservation deserves a greater emphasis in your aspirations for our country. Sustainable development should be a goal that ensures a win-win in the environmental, social and economic dimensions. By informing voters of your aspirations and plans for sustainable development in Malaysia, you allow them to make informed decisions with their votes. We, the undersigned, urge you to recognise the environmental aspirations of the citizens of Malaysia, especially the youth [refer to i] by: a) including these aspirations in your Party Manifesto; and b) ensuring they are given high priority to ensure sustainable development for current and future generations. We appeal to you to inform the voters how you will work towards realising those aspirations for the benefits of the people and, more specifically, what would you do in the first 100 days, if you are elected to form the government.

Malaysia is recognised as one of the top twelve countries in the world for mega- biodiversity. We are blessed with tropical rainforest, mangroves, peatland, montane forests, which ranks Malaysia the 4th in the world for most tree species [refer to ii] . Our surrounding seas are important parts of the Coral Triangle, which contains more than 75% of the world’s known coral species [refer to iii]. Our biodiversity is certainly one of the reasons why many tourists come to Malaysia.

As we all know, humans cannot survive without nature. While development is meant to increase our standards of living and grow our economy, unsustainable development inadvertently destroys the environment. The environment that provides services we take for granted such as our clean air, fresh water, food, and protection against extreme weather. In the end we are left worse than expected and this does not need to be the case. We must aim to achieve development in a sustainable way to balance our aspirations for economic growth without compromising our natural capital (environmental assets, social systems, cultural resources). Only then can we ensure higher standards of living for current and future generations.

In the absence of sustainable development and without proper protection of nature, the risks of flash flood, air pollution, landslides, shortage of water supply, and expanding urban heat islands will increase. We have already seen some of these happening and the frequency and intensity will get worse due to the pressures of increasing populations and changing climate. Not forgetting the role forests, wetlands and oceans play in providing food, nutrients and recreational space for humans, regulating the climate and buffering against extreme weather.

This Open Letter has been prepared in a neutral and non-partisan manner on behalf of our supporters – your constituents. They expect us to engage with the political system to advocate sustainable development and to urge you to make this a priority above party politics. By informing the voters your aspirations and plans for sustainable development in Malaysia, you allow them to make informed decisions with their votes.

We thank you for taking the time to read this letter.

Yours sincerely,

Biji-biji Initiative
Civil Society Organisations for Sustainable Development Goals (CSO-SDG) Alliance
Ecocentric Transitions
EcoKnights Environmental Protection Society Malaysia (EPSM)
Friends of Sarawak Museum
Hunger Hurts
Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP) Spiral
Malaysian Nature Society
#PowerShiftMsia
Reef Check Malaysia
Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group (SAWO)
Sabah Environmental Trust
Sabah Wetlands Conservation Society
Sarawak Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Sarawak Eco Warriors
Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (PROHAM)
Treat Every Environment Special (TrEES)
Wetlands International Malaysia
WWF-Malaysia

i According to the National Youth Survey 2007, “the environment” ranked 3rd as the 1st concern among youth surveyed. http://www.merdeka.org/v2/download/Microsoft%20Word%20- %20National%20Youth%20Survey%202007%20-%20Exec%20Summary–%20Final.pdf
ii http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10549811.2017.1310049?journalCode=wjsf20
iii http://www.coraltriangle.org/biodiversity/Biodiversity-CoralTriangle-MarineConservation-Culture-Fisheries.html

Please see attachment of a survey on voter concerns when it comes to the environment:

Media release: Poll shows voters most concern with pollution of rivers and seas

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