KUCHING: The Ministry of Works will continue promoting and implementing sustainable infrastructure development through the Construction Industry Transformation Plan (CITP).
Minister of Works Baru Bian said under CITP, Malaysia’s commitment towards sustainability in the construction sector ‘is addressed by developing and promoting programmes and initiatives that encourage more sustainable infrastructure projects’.
He listed CITP’s five core initiatives as driving innovation in sustainable construction, driving compliance to environmental sustainability ratings and requirements, focusing on public projects that lead the change in sustainable practices, facilitating industry adoption of sustainable practices, and reducing irresponsible waste during construction.
“To achieve the first of those initiatives, the Ministry of Works through the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) has created the Construction Research Institute of Malaysia (CREAM) as the Sustainable Construction Excellence Centre (Mampan), which serves the purposes of sustainable construction practices in Malaysia.
“Construction has a strong impact on the environment. The process can wreak havoc on the ecosystem and biodiversity, especially when care is not taken to prevent damage. Therefore, it is important to pursue sustainability and resilience in the effort to develop the country in a low-carbon, resource-efficient and socially conscious manner,” he said in his keynote address at the ‘Clean Energy Collaboration (CEC) Conference’ here yesterday.
Baru said the federal government ‘is now improving sustainability in construction and will continue to do so into the future’.
The development of new technology to help reduce the industry’s impact on the environment had become vital to the continued success of these ventures, he said.
He stressed that tropical rainforests such as those in Sarawak and Sabah played a vital role in regulating global temperatures.
“Rainforests worldwide offset man-made carbon dioxide emissions by almost 40 per cent, and tropic rainforests regulate global temperatures.
“We need to remember these factors when we talk about renewable energy. Any so-called clean energy policy that destroys primary forests is not clean. Neither are energy policies that displace indigenous communities,” he pointed out.
He noted that the CEC Conference brought up issues such as energy access for all through rural electrification and how that could be achieved with economically and environmentally-sustainable energy systems, without violating and compromising indigenous people’s rights.
“For decades, I have supported indigenous communities in Sarawak who have been protecting their forests from mega industries, mega-dams, logging companies, and other illegal encroachment.
“We have developed campaigns from the village level, to the blockades and to the courts,” said Baru.
Quoting World Bank research, he said although indigenous people made up only five per cent of the world’s population, they protected 80 per cent of global biodiversity.
“It is time for the rest of the world to share the load and to bolster and protect their efforts on the ground by providing robust legal protections and support.
“While we talk of renewable energy policy as an important factor in mitigating climate change, we should also recognise the unsung heroes protecting our planetary health, and among them are the indigenous communities themselves.
“We have to put the land rights of these communities as a major consideration in any conservation about a clean future,” added Baru.