Moving Onwards

CETDEM has spoken up for the environment and influenced environmental policy making since its inception. It has also operated the nation’s first organic farm, and contributed to the development of the Malaysian Organic Farming standard and certification scheme.

It has organised numerous exhibitions, talks and forums on the environment, and educated the public with courses, farm visits and projects such as the Community Initiative on Household Waste Composting. Its Hari Organik, now popular with local communities in Petaling Jaya, has been gathering steam over the last year.

With 25 years of dedication to the nation and planet to be proud of, CETDEM is not about to rest on its laurels. And what is the next step?

The Chairman says they will be looking at establishing a think tank on sustain-able development by the end of 2010. This independent think tank will conduct research and engage in environmental advocacy, and is something Malaysia does not have.

The closest equivalent to an environmental think tank, says Gurmit, is the In-stitute for Environment and Development (Lestari) which is under Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. CETDEM will look at the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research as a possible model for its think tank, and will try to raise the RM1 million needed to set up and run the think tank for the first four years.

With the think tank, CETDEM’s plans for the next 25 years will see the organisation focusing on the topics and programmes as listed as following:-

Study low carbon development in Malaysia. Low-carbon economies have minimal output of greenhouse gases and try and mitigate global warming.

Long-term programmes on sustainable solutions, especially through the mar-riage of sustainable development and green technology.

Deepen its work on transport solutions and issues which will lead to a sustain-able transportation system and increased public transport ridership. CETDEM intends to conduct a baseline study of all the state capitals’ public transport ridership, mobilise an awareness campaign to motivate people to use public transport and lobby the new Land Public Transport Commission to improve the quality of public transport. “We’ve heard that public transport ridership in Malaysia is only 17 per cent, while some claim it’s 30 per cent. But we don’t know where these figures come from,” says Gurmit.

Addressing the question of water. The organisation wants to tackle unresolved water issues, such as whether Malaysians are optimally utilising their water resources for end use in various areas and if the current method of repairing water pipes is the most efficient.

Examining the National Green Technology Policy closely. CETDEM maintains that the policy does not really look at the role or the promotion of clean technologies or pollution prevention technologies. It will then also look at developing innovative ideas on the use of green and sustainable technology beyond the policy.

Continue to work with local communities, such as keeping up the activities under the Organic Farming Community Centre in Section 19, which acts as a model for an organic farm in an urban environment.

Continue to work with local communities, such as keeping up the activities under the Organic Farming Community Centre in Section 19, which acts as a model for an organic farm in an urban environment.

Continue to work with local communities, such as keeping up the activities under the Organic Farming Community Centre in Section 19, which acts as a model for an organic farm in an urban environment.

The winning school was SMK Perempuan Methodist, whose students instituted several energy-saving efforts. They estab-lished the “MGS (Methodist Girls School) Hour”, where they turned off lights and fans from 8am to 9am in the classroom every Monday, and later every day in the month of August. Their other activities included recycling newspapers, compost-ing, getting indoor plants and setting up environmental cor-ners. They even had a vegetable garden project, and set up a School Energy Efficiency blog, MGS Teachers blog and an MGSKL online forum.

Here, There & Everywhere

With climate change a hot topic and one that was discussed everywhere, CETDEM’s expertise in the subject was also great-ly appreciated. It attended a host of events revolving around climate change and the environment both locally and internationally, from national conferences and seminars to a debate at Maastricht University, Netherlands.

The organisation also published a climate change seminar report entitled Between Bali and Pozan in 2008, as well as held the Nuclear Energy Conference and Climate Change Seminar the following year.

There was a greater energy and drive in CET-DEM with their many projects. By this time, there would also be more help from the media in the dissemination of environmental issues and information. An example was a fun shoot on composting, produced by Red Communica-tion Sdn Bhd for the 3R TV programme, which encouraged viewers to recycle their household wastes into compost.

But even as more articles and interviews were conducted compared to previous years, CET-DEM would remain dedicated to on-the-ground work and their favourite issues. A series of highly successful Hari Organik days were held to promote a healthy organic lifestyle, for exam-ple, primarily targeting the residents of Petaling Jaya.

The organisation also conducted the Sustainable Energy Usage In Urban Households work-shop in Penang, and presented a paper on Energy: What Path Should We Take? at the National Conference on Sustainability in Kuala Lumpur.

Other significant events that would showcase CETDEM’s expertise and skills included:

  • The National Organic Farming Seminar, jointly organised by CETDEM and the Department of Agriculture

  • The Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM) seminar entitled Are CDMs Working?, jointly or-ganised with the Dutch Embassy in 2007

  • The inaugural Malaysian Sustainable Energy Conference, with funding by ExxonMobil. There was also the notable CACCET Proj-ect, which began in April 2007. The ‘Creating Awareness on Climate Change Through Energy Use and Transportation’ project would begin in collaboration with funding secured from the Na-tional Resources & Environment Ministry.

The project involved assessing the quality of pub-lic transportation provided in two towns — Kajang and Petaling Jaya — and then working with se-lected citizen’s groups in both towns to increase their awareness about related energy issues.

Besides getting an assessment of the quality and extent of public transport provided by Rapid KL and what improvements the community would like to see, the project also saw households from both towns completing energy audit forms and a transport survey for further study.

National & International Respect

By now CETDEM was also pulling some real weight when it came to giving feedback and advice to the government on matters of the environment.

Already armed with a wealth of information and experience in international meetings and forums such as the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Workshop (Jakarta 2006), the Asian De-velopment Bank’s Energy Strategy Consultation meeting (Manila, 2007) and a long list of others, CETDEM’s opinion would be sought time and time again.

CETDEM’s list of events for these few years would almost triple compared to the early years, with everything from dialogues with UNDP stakeholders and roundtable discussions, to workshops and policy-drafting meetings.

But this increasing popularity for CETDEM’s par-ticipation would not affect research and education efforts, and the organisation would come out with reports like the ‘Working With The Community On Energy Efficiency at Household Level’ report in December 2006 and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Seminar Report ‘Are CDMs Working?’ in August 2007.

The organisation was a member of the National CDM Committee and was appointed to the National Energy Efficiency Master Plan Committee in Oct 2009.

CETDEM was clearly regarded as an ex-pert on its pet projects, and continued to participate in events that would enhance its understanding of those issues.