Speech by YAB Chow Kon Yeow The Chief Minister Of Penang at Hin Bus Depot on 4th June 2022
Fuyoh! It’s been a while since we have all gotten together since the Covid-19 outbreak, and, what could be more meaningful than coming together to honour Mother Earth?
Every year on June 5th, we commemorate the biggest international day for the environment. Exactly 50 years ago, at the United Nations Conference on the Environment in Stockholm in 1972, sustainable development was addressed for the first time as a global agenda, ushering in today’s World Environment Day.
50 years forward, it is indeed our time and duty to push for transformative actions in order to restore the balance between men and nature. This year’s World Environment Day theme, “Only One Earth” is the same slogan used for the 1972 Stockholm Conference, and it aims to re-energize the emphasis that planet Earth is still the only liveable planet we have.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today here at ‘Fuyoh!’, it is like a time capsule where we can learn from the past, reflect on present and transpire on what the future holds. With time and technology advancement, indeed our lives has been eased, distance brought closer and door to door services have now become the new norm. But, little do we realise that we are living life at the edge within the expanse of our planet.
It is projected that ecosystem degradation will have a negative impact on the well-being of 3.2 billion people, or roughly 40% of the world’s population. About 87% of inland wetlands worldwide has disappeared since 1700, over one-third of commercial fish species are widely exploited and if our current trends continue, annual plastic waste entering aquatic ecosystems will triple to 23-37 million tonnes by 2040, causing further environmental damage.
We are currently using an equivalent of 1.6 Earths to maintain our current way of life and it is eminent that the ecosystem cannot keep up with us. Flash floods, prolonged drought, sea level rising, biodiversity lost, pollution and many more are epitome ‘code red’ that Earth is showing us, growing more ominous every day. The solution to this conundrum is to shift our actions from harming to healing the planet. To move forward, we must transform our economies and societies to be more inclusive, equitable, and environmentally conscious.
As a coastal state, Penang is acutely aware of potential climate change threats. In response to global climate change issues and the evolving paradigm of sustainable development, the Penang State Government has undertaken a number of initiatives, including the Penang Climate Action Week, the Penang Green Agenda, Penang Circular Economy, Penang Waste Segregation at Source policy with a current recycling rate of 51.18 percent in the state, sapling planting across the state with 191,756 trees planted since 2018, and many more, all of which are in line with the state’s Penang2030 vision of ‘A Family-Focused Green and Smart State that Inspires the Nation’.
Today, here in ‘Fuyoh!’, we want to bring you into a world with transformative options available, affordable and attractive so that more people can make better daily decisions. Climate change did not occur overnight, but rather gradually over centuries.
Likewise, the Penang State Government will not rest on its laurels in the pursuit of a greener future. We need everyone to come together – financial institutions, businesses, international organisations, NGOs, and individuals – because together we have the power to rewrite the rules, frame our ambition, and open up new horizons.
We have only #OnlyOneEarth. Let’s take care of it.