Malacca City is among the favourite tourist destinations in Malaysia among locals and foreigners. Known for the well-preserved buildings and structures that date back from the colonization of the Portuguese in the 1500’s, Malacca is one of the cities listed in UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city also boasts unique and delicious food from different cultures. Malacca’s population also includes races such as Peranakan, Dutch Eurasian and more. It is no question why this city is one of the most colourful and vibrant city in Malaysia.
Considered as a hot spot for tourists, Malacca has to overcome issues regarding the environment. With the increasing amount of visitors going in and out of the city, maintaining and sustaining a healthy environment is indeed a challenge. In addition, the number of population of the city is rapidly growing as well. Hence, it was included in the 10th Malaysia Plan that efforts are to be enforced to make Malacca an environmentally sustainable city.
Nearly two third of the city has been declared as environmentally sensitive areas due to ecological reasons such as protection of rich biodiversity. The historical spots of city itself are not far from each other, making it possible to reduce the usage of cars to travel around. Over the past few years, more and more walking pavements have been built around the city as an effort to promote health as well as to reduce pollution. From my personal view, walking is indeed the best way to travel around the city as one will be able to stop and see the beautiful views around and perhaps, try street food. Definitely a good way to exercise while enjoying the holiday. However in 2015, Malacca government has introduced the usage of electric bus as an effort to use green energy as well as to battle against climate change. Up to date, there are up to 2 electric buses in the city.
One of the more significant efforts into making the city environmental sustainable is the mega-project called Melaka World Solar Valley (MWSV). This project, currently ongoing, is expected to make Malacca the “greenest city” in Malaysia. The usage of solar energy as an alternative will be applied by setting up solar panels on every buildings, apart from the usage of energy saving LED lights and installation of solar panels along the road. The project objective, apart from using sustainable renewable energy and tackling climate change, also aims to increase job opportunities for the locals and turn Malacca into a model environmental sustainable city.
Another big and prominent effort in sustainability is the transformation of the Malacca River itself. Known as the Venice of the East in the 15th century, the river slowly deteriorated and became one of the dirtiest rivers in the country till some 12 years ago. However, it became once again the main lifeline of the city as more and more activities are generated and the original buildings co-exist along the new river promenade. Efforts were done to eliminate all sewage and raw wastes, saving the marine life in the river. Apart from that, more trees were planted around the river to regain the past image of Malacca.
These efforts have indeed changed Malacca into one of the model cities in ASEAN. On 30th October 2014, Malacca was chosen as one of the recipients of the 3rd ASEAN Environmentally Sustainable Cities Award. This recognition has since boosted more efforts to create environmentally sustainable cities in other states in Malaysia. As a person who studies about the environment, battling environmental problems such as climate change itself is known to require a massive and continuous efforts. Small efforts do not necessarily give big impact but in ASEAN we constantly strive together to be a part of the huge changes to come.
“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.” –George Eliot
By John Anak Ramsay, ASEAN Correspondent from Malaysia