EcoKnights president Yasmin Rashid. - NSTP/MUHD ZAABA ZAKERIA

SHAH ALAM: The Selangor state government’s move to allocate funds for implementing environmental protection programmes reflects a commitment towards greening the state and tackling the climate crisis.

EcoKnights president Yasmin Rashid commended the state government for its “innovative approaches” and commitment to improving the environment and to reducing contribution to global warming.

The state’s 2020 Budget saw an allocation of RM1.5 million for green volunteerism, RM500,000 for river conservation efforts, RM500,000 to plant 5,000 trees statewide, RM600,000 to set up recycling centres at all local councils, and RM6.85 million for solid waste management, RM40 million for Taman Rakyat Selangor project, and allocations to fix solar panels at all local councils.

“I think no other states in Malaysia have taken such initiatives. It is refreshing to see the state government investing in these kinds of elements to mobilise the community to be involved in green activities,” Yasmin told the NST when contacted.

“(For instance) we want to see more trees being planted. This is already happening progressively from a bottom-up approach. I hope the state government has clear climate action plans and strategies in line to effectively leverage the community in implementing these measures.

“It is good that the state government is investing in people through green volunteerism and Friends of River programme, for example. Selangor needs to aggressively act before another Sungai Kim Kim incident happens.”

Yasmin said the plans and programmes to be implemented should also be emulated by other state government.

She also said the programmes and projects carried out should be properly measured to ensure results.

Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) president Professor Dr Ahmad Ismail said as a developed state, Selangor must lead in all aspects of environmental issues, such as in greening the city, saving biodiversity, as well as in educating and changing public mindset and practices.

He commended the RM1.5 million budget for green volunteerism saying it is good to promote a green lifestyle among the Selangor community.

“Non-governmental Organisations and community involvement are crucial in undertaking green efforts. MNS, for example, have nearly 500 Kelab Pencinta Alam (KPA) schools and Selangor has the highest number of KPA schools.

“They surely can participate in the volunteerism programme in Selangor,” he said.

Ismail also called for the relevant bodies to look into ways to effectively carry out solid waste management due to the significantly high budget allocation for this area.

“Besides that, in the industrial area, each industry can plant and maintain the trees supervised by the local authorities.

“Selangor already move towards becoming a green state but more needs to be done. Effective strategies need to be looked into and implemented accordingly.”

Ismail further said Selangor state government should also develop strategies and action plans specifically towards tackling the climate crisis, such as by increasing forest reserves, increase the number of free busses, and better plastic or single-use plastic management.

Meanwhile, the Association for the Protection of the Natural Heritage of Malaysia (Peka) said effective implementation of climate action must include a programme to assist with changing the people’s mindsets.

“Actual awareness is still low among the rakyat. A lack of understanding of the sustainable development goals or the causes and effects of climate change will remain a major stumbling block towards effective implementation.

“Allocation of these funds must also be done transparently and distributed among the various stakeholders along with ongoing monitoring and assessment.”

Peka added Malaysia still allow the import of plastic waste which is the opposite of efforts to tackle the climate crisis.

It noted that more efforts should go into stopping the smuggling of plastic waste and e-waste to prevent pollution.