1. Malaysia started its journey on sustainable development since 1970s when the New Economic Policy (NEP) was introduced in 1970 to eradicate poverty and restructure societal imbalance. All the subsequent 5-year Malaysia development plans have underscored the elements of sustainable development encompassing sustainable economic growth, growth with equitable distribution to all sections of society, access to basic infrastructure and utilities, access to education and healthcare services and mainstreamed environmental conservation.
2. In 2009, Malaysia formulated the New Economic Model (NEM) which further cemented Malaysia’s commitment to pursue sustainable development based on three pillars, namely high income, inclusivity and sustainability, which mirrors the three elements of the SDG, namely economy, social and environment. The NEM provides the basis for 5-year Malaysia development plan until 2020. The current 5-year Malaysia plan i.e. the 11th Malaysia Plan (2016-2020) is premised on the three pillars of NEM. The theme of 11th Malaysia plan is “Anchoring Growth on People” where people will be the centerpiece of all development efforts and to ensure that no section of society is left behind in participating and benefiting from the nation’s development.
3. Malaysia is, therefore not starting anew on its pathway to sustainable development but it is a process already in motion. Some of the achievements to date are as below;
a. SDG 1&2: Absolute poverty reduced from 49.3% (1970) to 0.6% (2014) with no reported cases of hunger;
b. SDG 3: Child and maternal mortality rates are almost at the level of developed countries; eradicated endemic small pox and polio and reversed the spread of HIV/AIDS. Drastic reductions in water-borne diseases, deaths from treatable childhood diseases and malaria;
c. SDG 4&5: More than 90% enrolment rates for primary and secondary school levels for both boys and girls and 33% for higher education with gender ratio slightly in favour of girls;
d. SDG 6: Over 95% coverage for water and sanitation, and electricity supply at national level;
e. SDG 7,12 & 16: Laws, regulations, policies and plans in place to better protect and ensure sustainable use of natural assets;
f. SDG 8: Full employment since 1992;
g. SDG 10: Income inequalities reduced, as indicated by lower Gini Coefficient from 0.513 (1970) to 0.401 (2014); and
h. SDG 13, 14, 15, &17: As of 2015, maintained more than 50% forest cover, 10.76% as terrestrial protected areas and 1.06% as marine protected areas. Carbon intensity reduced by 33% since 2009, increasing renewable energy capacity. Malaysia also participates in international trans-boundary conservation efforts like the Coral Triangle and the Heart of Borneo initiatives.
4. The Agenda 2030 increases the resolve to pursue the journey on sustainable development more aggressively. Thus, Malaysia has aligned SDG principles with the 11th Malaysia Plan, which will entrench SDGs in all facets of Malaysia’s development. The Honourable Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato’ Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Abdul Razak made his commitment during UN General Assembly in 2015 that Malaysia will adopt the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and its implementation.
5. To embrace and implement the 17 SDGs in a systematic and measurable manner, Malaysia has taken the following initiatives;
a. established a multi-stakeholder, participatory governance structure;
b. held two national SDG symposiums to promote participation of stakeholders;
c. conducted studies on data readiness and gap analysis;
d. undertaken a mapping exercise involving non-government and civil society organisations and the private sector to align SDGs with the 11th Malaysia Plan initiatives; and
e. established a National SDG Roadmap to guide implementation of Agenda 2030 and the SDGs.
6. Next steps to be taken include:
- localising SDGs at sub-national levels by replicating the national multi-stakeholder governance structure at state levels;
- mobilising resources and funding through partnerships i.e. crowd sourcing, social entrepreneurship, CSR programmes, support and funding from international sources; and
- strengthening data readiness and filling data gaps to develop a comprehensive dataset for SDG implementation.
7. Malaysia can and should be ambitious with the goals and targets for the SDGs. We have demonstrated that we can set and achieve “higher targets” through sustained and systematic effort. Malaysia has in place the implementing mechanism for the SDGs with sustainable development initiative aligned with the 11MP, the implementation will be a relatively smooth process. The National SDG Roadmap sets out the priorities and plan of action for implementation.