Urban Green Growth For Iskandar Malaysia

A green economy is an innovative and creative economy with a central role for investment in sustainable development and green technology.

The Iskandar Malaysia economic corridor in the southern Malaysian state of Johor is undergoing a rapid industrialization process and have huge investments in manufacturing and infrastructure development and therefore have high demand for energy consumption.

Although Johor State has been blessed with relatively large tracts of natural tropical forests (almost 60% of its total land area), some of the forest areas may be converted into agriculture and other urban uses to generate job opportunities for the growing population. This would potentially reduce the State’s carbon sink while increasing its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission.

The Table below represents the scenarios on energy demand, GHG emission and intensity in year 2005 and 2025:

Low Carbon Iskandar

Having analysed this emission increase through research collaboration between Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and Japanese universities/institutions, the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) has put in place a comprehensive and holistic approach to the development of Iskandar Malaysia so as to ensure that growth is maintained in a sensible, timely and sustainable manner.

As such, setting targets for a low carbon future, enabling positive support and promotion of a green economy through increased investments in environmental assets as well as green technology and production must all be properly planned and managed.

IRDA has made a commitment to take a balanced green economy-green community-green environment growth path in developing Iskandar Malaysia. Through strong policies, IRDA has planned and will manage and develop the economic region through close collaboration with all stakeholders, especially the local communities.

Towards fulfilling Malaysia’s voluntary commitment in reducing the country’s carbon intensity by 40% come 2020 (based on 2005 level), IRDA has projected to reduce its GHG emissions by 50% by 2025. IRDA hopes that the industry will play a significant role in helping achieve this emission reduction.

Part of IRDA’s economic growth strategy is wealth-sharing and inclusiveness which ensure that the wealth generated from economic development is equitably shared besides providing solutions to human capital issues, income and housing disparity. Iskandar Malaysia is currently in its eighth year of development; from a modest mainly manufacturing sector in 2007 into strong value-added developments focusing on E & E, education and creative industries, financial services and tourism.


Low Carbon Society Blueprint for Iskandar Malaysia 2025 is a written document that represents comprehensive climate change mitigation policies and detail strategies to guide the development of Iskandar Malaysia towards becoming “Strong and Sustainable Metropolis of International Standing”. Basically, a low carbon society aims to minimise carbon emission in all sectors, thus the shift to a simpler and quality life or co-existence with nature.

This is aimed to guide the implementation of 12 low carbon society policy actions in Iskandar Malaysia. There are 281 programmes that would bring a reduction of 50% of GHG emission intensity and 40% emission reduction from 2025 Ball (business as usual) compared with 2005 as base year. This achievement is higher than the national commitment of up to 40% voluntary carbon intensity reduction by 2020.

As part of the implementation of the 281 programmes, IRDA has produced a booklet entitled Iskandar Malaysia Actions for a Low Carbon Future in 2013. Launched during the 19th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP19) in Warsaw, Poland, this is the first of a series of bookets showing 10 of the 281 programmes to be implemented.

Such implementations are expected to lead Iskandar Malaysia towards becoming a low carbon, green growth region. The implementation of the various programmes is well underway and expected to be completed by end of 2015.

One of the major Low Carbon Society programmes that IRDA has completed thus far is the preparation of a comprehensive document called Green Economy Guidelines (GEG). The GEG is a paradigm shift from a model based on depleting resources and material accumulation to that of renewable sources centred on the development of individuals, social development of communities and the restoration of all living systems.

A green economy is an innovative and creative economy with a central role for investments in sustainable development and green technology. IRDA’s GEG is expected to re-vitalise and diversify economies, create employment opportunities, promote sustainable trade, reduce poverty, and improve equity and income distribution.

The green economy approach adopts a more sustainable path by increasing the share of its GDP (Gross Domestic Product) to renewable energies, clean transportation, clean technologies, green buildings, waste management, water services, sustainable agriculture and forestry.


An important approach that IRDA is considering is industrial symbiosis, which has never been tried in Malaysia yet. Conceptually, industrial symbiosis is the active use of waste material of one industry which becomes precious raw resource to another, thus minimising waste generation and achieves higher resource efficiency.

Industrial symbiosis can reduce waste to landfill, carbon footprint and commercial risk, conserve resource, improves revenue, profitability, business expansion and employment and hence delivers sustainable green growth.

Successful symbiosis can be found in cities in Japan and Denmark. In the Iskandar Malaysia economic region, potential symbiosis can be applied on predominantly industrial towns such as Pasir Gudang.

The Industrial Symbiosis concept is expected to make a significant contribution to reducing the economic region’s GHG emissions and could potentially be a template for other symbiosis approaches in Malaysia in the future.

As it is, the Low Carbon Society research project is now in its fourth year of a five-year project funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST).

The Blueprint is also now well underway in terms of implementation and envisioned to considerably assist not only in achieving high economic growth for Iskandar Malaysia but also at the same time expected to achieve reductions in GHG emissions by 2025.

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This article is contributed by the Iskandar Regional Development Authority, a Malaysian Federal Government statutory body tasked with the objective of regulating and driving various stakeholders in both public and private sector towards realizing the vision of developing Iskandar Malaysia into a strong and sustainable metropolis of international standing.