Malaysia is a rapidly developing and urbanising country. The high speed of the ongoing urbanisation in Malaysia means that there is always the danger than a chaotic and highly inefficient urban sprawl might be created if this development takes place unchecked. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that sustaibale development be given due consideration. This seems to be the latest focal point of discussions in property seminars and conferences throughout Malaysia.
Along the same lines, the government has given strong emphasis in strengthening the economic attractiveness and checking the unregulated urban development in the greater metropolitan area of the capital, Kuala Lumpur, a sprawling metropolis of more than seven million people. These measures are based on improving the overall public transportation system, improving linkages in major growth centres and other initiatives identified under the various National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs). These NKEAs will have great implications on the future development of cities, as they are expected to influence the direction as well as the speed of growth in the cities where the projects will take place.
The recent, 3rd Congress of the Asian Association of Urban Regional Studies, the talks revolved around the theme of sustainable planning as the answer to the risk of unchecked urban and regional development. Speakers and participants at the congress all agreed on the need to plan, design and invest in smart cities, where the guiding criteria becomes sustainable planning. Smart cities in turn require innovative ideas and skilled workers to carry them out. The cities must also address green and sustainable issues and also be resilient against possible natural hazards. Speeches in the congress highlighted these, as well as various other issues:
The President of Thai Planners Society, ProfessorDr Eggarin highlighted that sustainablility did not always translate into higher cost of building cities as there were natural methods to incorporate green issues in property development but required innovative techniques to suit the local environment.
It was also highlighted by Annette Dixon, theWorld Bank’s Country Director for Malaysia in the November 2011 edition of the Malaysia Economic Monitor that “as cities concentrate a growing share of the national economy, it is imperative that they have systems to manage natural hazards and prevent them from becoming human and economic disasters.
Malaysian cities are especially vulnerable to floods and landslides. To reduce the risks related to these hazards, Malaysia would benefit from environmental restoration and integration of risk reduction into development planning’.
To lead the move towards sustainable development, one of the key thrusts of the National Housing Policy 2011 is to promote sustainability in the housing sector by promoting green technologies and features, and encouraging urban renewal and redevelopment. In Malaysia, this growing awareness on sustainable development has resulted in various commercial as well as residential developments using “green features’ as one of the development concepts and theme or their unique selling features.
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