'Science to Action' of the Sustainable Low Carbon City-region

Lessons Learnt from Iskandar Malaysia

Chin Siong Ho, Loon Wai Chau, Bor Tsong Teh, Yuzuru Matsuoka, and Kei Gomi

Abstract This paper outlines the lessons learnt through the multidisciplinary 'Science-to-Action' approach to formulating, mainstreaming and implementing the Low Carbon Society Blueprint for Iskandar Malaysia 2025 (LCSBP-IM2025). Iskandar Malaysia (IM) is a rapidly developing urban region in southern Peninsular Malaysia that was institutionalised in 2006 with a view to spurring Malaysia's economic growth up to 2025. In pursuing rapid economic growth to become a developed, high-income nation by 2020, Malaysia is conscious of its global responsibility in environmental protection and global climate change mitigation, hence the country's commitment to reducing its carbon emission intensity of GDP by up to 40 % by 2020 based on the 2005 level. Being a premier economic region in Malaysia, IM seeks to develop a low carbon society (LCS) and lead the way to cutting its carbon emission intensity by up to 58 % by 2025 based on the 2005 level through the implementation of the LCSBP-IM2025.

The LCSBP-IM2025 is the outcome of an internationally funded joint research under the SATREPS programme that brings together Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Kyoto University, Japan's National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES), Okayama University and the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA), in a unique 'academia-policymaker' partnership, towards crafting an LCS pathway to guide and sustainably manage the projected rapid development in IM up to 2025. To that end, a multidisciplinary research team that comprises the above research institutions and IRDA, led by UTM, has been set up. A methodology has been developed to formulate IM's future LCS scenarios, propose LCS actions to achieve the LCS scenarios, quantify the GHG emission reduction potential of the proposed LCS actions and continuously engage local stakeholders in a series of focus group discussions (FGDs).

The project has been a great success from its official commencement in July 2011, which saw the LCSBP-IM2025 being launched at UNFCCC's COP 18 in Doha in November 2012 and officially endorsed by the Malaysian Prime Minister in December the same year. In November 2013, the Iskandar Malaysia Actions for a Low Carbon Future was launched, outlining ten priority projects selected from the LCSBP-IM2025's 281 programmes for implementation in IM in 2013–2015; the projects are now at various stages of implementation, yielding real impacts on IM's progression towards its LCS goal.

The project offers valuable lessons especially in advancing scientific research on LCS into policymaking and, importantly, into real actions (hence, Science to Action). These include the importance of having strong highest-level government support, aligning LCS actions to higher-level development priorities, taking policymakers on-board the research team, continuously actively engaging local communities and stakeholders through FGDs and overcoming science-policy and disciplinary gaps that emerged. What is clearly evidenced by the LCSBP-IM2025's success is that developing countries, with good synergy between highly committed local research institutions and policymakers, subject to adequate international funding and technological assistance from developed nations, are capable of crafting and putting in place implementable LCS policies that eventually contribute to mitigating global climate change through real cuts in GHG emissions while still achieving a desired level of economic growth.

Keywords Low carbon society (LCS) • Science to Action (S2A) • Iskandar Malaysia • Low carbon society blueprint • Academia-policymaker partnership • Extended Snapshot Tool (ExSS) • GHG emission mitigation • Green growth • Urban region • Lessons learnt

 
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