Sustainable development principles are paramount

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Sparkling waters along the Batu Ferringhi coastline, 12.52pm, 30 April 2020 - Photograph: Lye Tuck Po

The Association for Community and Dialogue would like to appeal to all politicians and civil society leaders to embrace sustainable development goals as the supreme principle in economic and social engineering activities.

The charting of the 12th Malaysia Plan in the context of the Covid-19 crisis calls for a substantive discourse among political and business circles, civil society and workers on what type development is envisaged in the next five years.

This year, 2020, marks the end of Vision 2020 and the 11th Malaysia Plan (2016-2020) period.

According to the previous Pakatan Harapan government, the 12th Malaysia Plan (2021-2025) will be aligned with the shared prosperity initiative encompassing three dimensions, namely economic empowerment, environmental sustainability and social re-engineering.

The economic empowerment dimension will include new sources of growth, including the fourth industrial revolution, the digital economy, the aerospace industry, integrated regional development and growth enablers such as sustainable energy sources and infrastructure connectivity.

The environmental sustainability dimension includes the blue economy, green technology, renewable energy, and adaptation and mitigation of climate change.

The social re-engineering dimension comprises enhancing societal values, improving the people’s purchasing power, building a resilient bumiputera community, strengthening social security networks and improving the wellbeing of the people.

Various dimensions had been spelt out related to economic empowerment, environmental sustainability and social engineering that are not exhaustive.

The fundamental flaw that is obvious in the formulation of the 12th Malaysia Plan by the previous government is, it tends to compartmentalise areas of growth without underlying moral and sustainable principles that would bring about the common good and coherence to the agenda.

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For example, creating a resilient bumiputera community seems to suggest the resilience of other communities are secondary. While we emphasise the importance of addressing climate change, we may ignore sustainable practices in the agricultural sector.

Resilient development in the rural sector does not mean having a sustainable ecosystem. The vital principle of protecting the planet as the basis of all decision-making is not emphasised.

The Covid-19 health crisis has ravaged the global economy. This shows that the current model of development that focuses on unbridled capitalism and craving consumerism has damaged the ecosystem, leading to an easy transmission of viruses from animals to humans.

The non-existence of vaccine to treat coronavirus-infected patients has caused the deaths of thousands and shows a failure of the current global and national economic model in enhancing healthcare.

This clearly calls for a change from the current neoliberal global and national economic system to an economic system that embraces the sustainable development goals set by the United Nations, which are rooted in the enhancement of human dignity and protection of the planet.

The UN’s Global Goals aim to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for everyone by 2030.

The lack of integration among various dimensions outlined in the 12th Malaysia Plan would cause inequality and damage the environment. Systematic thinking that integrates all dimensions rooted in sustainable principles is paramount.

Therefore, the Association for Community and Dialogue would like to appeal to all politicians and civil society leaders to embrace sustainable development goals as the supreme principle in which all economic and social engineering activities are based on as we discuss the 12th Malaysia Plan from 2021 to 2025.

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This will provide Malaysia with a great opportunity to turn the tide by embracing sustainable development principles and goals for our future generations.

Source: Malaysiakini

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