Statement by Malaysian Environmental NGOs (MENGOs) on Environmental Concerns & Issues for the 12th General Elections 2008The nation’s 12th General Elections are fast approaching. Election campaign political agendas and party manifestos from various contenders have placed emphasis on political reform, education and on social and economic issues. These are undeniably all issues of utmost importance to all Malaysians. MENGOs does however note with disappointment that despite global and national environmental related issues increasing steadily, comprehensive environmental agendas were not forthcoming in the various party manifestos.
The nation faces daunting challenges posed by environmental degradation, biodiversity loss and, in the very near future, impacts from climate change. MENGOs sincerely hope that, the future government of the day will place unprecedented emphasis on environmental issues in its post election political agenda, and intensify the integration of environmental issues into national policy making.
More specifically, MENGOs calls for the post election political agenda to take cognizance of the following matters and ensure:
- Strict and effective implementation of various national policies relating to the environment such as the National Biodiversity Policy and the National Physical Plan.
- Necessary legal and institutional frameworks are in place to ensure the effective protection and conservation of Environmentally Sensitive Areas, hills and highlands of Malaysia, forest ecosystems including mangroves, river basins and riverine reserves, islands, peatlands, coastal zones and other fragile habitats.
- Provide adequate legal protection and gazette all existing mangrove forests and forests which are water catchments.
- A full and comprehensive review of EQA, EIA Regulations and Forestry Act and other environmental related legislation is conducted for the purposes of addressing various gaps and loopholes within the law that render conservation efforts ineffective.
- As part of Malaysia’s international obligations, acknowledge and ensure the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples and local communities on development planning, decision making, and access and benefit sharing, as contained in various international declarations, conventions and treaties. Issues relating to full access to environmental information and the right to participate in all environmental decision making are entrenched.
- Enact laws and policies to protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples to natural resources and eliminate or amend policies and laws that contradict with the rights of Indigenous Peoples as declared by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
- A condition for stronger environmental NGO participation and involvement is established. The government must increasingly recognise the contributory and complimentary role of NGOs in environmental policy making.
- Stronger commitment from the government in environmental education with the involvement of civil society through national curriculum development, co-curricular activities in schools and institutes of higher learning and among communities.
- There is development and implementation of sustainable and ecological agricultural policies and practices across the entire agriculture sector.
- To produce a cost benefit analysis and conduct proper consultation with the public and environmental NGOs on the need of US FTA and its possible impact to the environment.
- Move towards zero waste goals that will create jobs, protect the environment and improve public health by minimising the volume and eliminating toxic impacts of waste, through clean production, waste prevention, reusing, recycling and composting.
- Effective implementation and enforcement of the National Biosafety Act and our obligations under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, including putting into operation the Precautionary Principle and the right to say no to genetically modified organisms and their products, so as to safeguard our environment, health and socio-economic situation from their adverse impacts.
- Promote and adopt environmentally sound alternative energy solutions such as Micro-Hydro schemes and solar power for rural electrification, replace existing unsustainable fossil fuel dependent generator systems currently installed that give burden to rural communities and contribute to global warming.
- In response to national and global issues on climate change to develop detail national action plans for the reduction and mitigation of Green House Gases (GHGs) as well as the development of national climate change adaptation strategies.
- Affirm gender equality and equity as a pre-requisite to sustainable development with gender-based concerns being addressed at all levels of decision making and implementation.
The challenge for a developing nation such as Malaysia is to balance environmental and natural resource protection with social and economic advancement. MENGO sincerely hopes that the future government of the day is ready to take on the challenging mandate of sustaining our environment for future generation of Malaysians founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace.
Malaysian Environmental Non Governmental Organizations (MENGOs)