Conference calls for Sarawak to collaborate on clean energy
Malaysia civil society organizations brought together government officials, international and local energy experts, industry representatives, and grassroots communities for the Clean Energy Collaboration, Kuching to discuss concrete pathways to achieve economically and environmentally sustainable energy systems.
In a two day event people from a myriad of backgrounds are meeting in Kuching to discuss creating renewable energy pathways for Sarawak and Malaysia. Save Rivers and other local Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are holding the conference in order to push the agenda of renewable energy at a state and national level while ensuring community involvement in issues that directly impact everyone.This is the first time that people from rural communities from around Sarawak have been included in high-level discussions with government ministries, civil society organizations (CSOs), energy companies, and local and international experts.
Over 160 participants are attending the event, including people from over 30 villages around Sarawak and Malaysia who travelled to the state’s capital to contribute their thoughts on renewable energy systems. Speaking about the collaborative approach towards influencing projects and policy, Peter Kallang, Chairman of Save Rivers, said: “Serious problems arise when entire communities are left out of the discussion for these types of projects. This conference is one step towards ensuring proper consultation for energy projects moving forward.”
The conference comes at a globally critical time as countries around the world prepare transitions to renewable energy sources. How each country responds will determine its place in the new global order created by the transition to renewable energy, but will affect its ability to improve the lives of its people and meet its Sustainable Development Goals.
The conference organizers and experts speaking at the event agree that Malaysia is strategically placed to lead the renewable energy revolution in Southeast Asia. Christine Milne, former Australian Senator who was instrumental in passing their Clean Energy Package, sees great opportunities for Malaysia: “Government and non-government actors are already organizing for change, looking at how the right moves now will not only put an end to energy poverty in states like Sarawak and Sabah, but can build on the success of existing small-scale distributed energy systems that have emerged at the grassroots, spearheaded by indigenous communities.”
Minister YB Yeo Bee Yin of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment, and Climate Change (MESTECC) echoed this sentiment in a messages to conference participants: “Malaysia has the opportunity to become Southeast Asia’s clean energy and renewable industries leader. Therefore, the Federal Government has set a renewable energy target of 20% by 2030. I am convinced that the adoption of renewable energy will help the nation to become more competitive. Not only can we set new standards for renewable energy in the region, we can also build an industry that will be able to empower other countries down the road.”
The CEC has drawn speakers and support from many state and federal ministries, as well as from the energy industry, international organizations, universities, and Malaysian banks. In addition to community representatives, speakers include Public Works Minister YB Baru Bian, Senator YB Adrian Lasimbang, and YB Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment, and Climate Change (MESTECC), and representatives from Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB), the Sarawak Ministry of Utilities, the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA), Sabah Electricity Sendirian Berhad (SESB), and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The speakers and participants do not only come from Malaysia but other countries such as Indonesia, Myanmar, the US, Australia and Switzerland.
The CEC is organised by a group of Civil Society Organisations: SAVE Rivers from Sarawak, Jaringan Orang Asal Semalaysia (JOAS or Network of Indigenous Peoples of Malaysia) and PACOS, a CSO based in Sabah. It is supported by the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley; the United Nations Development Project (UNDP), the Bruno Manser Fund, the Borneo Project and the Sarawak Convention Bureau.
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