Penang Green Finance Conference 2022 

Speech by YAB Chow Kon Yeow, Chief Minister of Penang cum Chairman of Penang Green Council on 13th December 2022 at G Hotel, Gurney

Good Morning

First and foremost, congratulations to the Penang Green Council (PGC) for hosting the Penang Green Finance Conference 2022. I am proud of the effort that has gone into addressing such an important topic, especially after our world was badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Penang’s economic development was no exception and was also badly affected. Nonetheless, preliminary data indicates that we are in the right recovery path. The economic recovery and the introduction of a series of social safety nets during the pandemic demonstrates that the people’s well-being has been prioritised.

A survey conducted last year for our very own Happiness Index revealed that, even in the midst of the pandemic, people were generally satisfied with their current quality of life. There are, however, challenges ahead not only of economic and social nature, but also environment such as climate change, biodiversity depletion and so on. The Happiness Index survey also highlighted the need to improve our urban infrastructure, including digital connectivity, as well as living affordability.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In keeping with the Penang2030 vision of ‘A Family-Focused Green and Smart State that Inspires the Nation’, the State is adopting a whole-of-society approach to ensure that Penang continues its social and economic development without neglecting its environment. In 2021, the State launched the Penang Green Agenda (PGA) 2030 to focus on safeguarding our environment and promoting sustainable development to help achieve the Penang2030 Vision and UN SDGs. PGA provides targeted recommendations to improve governance and performances in ten focus areas, including green economy development, land use planning, and food and water security. Together with the new Penang Climate Prosperity Plan, PGA will guide Penang’s strategic development direction and investments over the next decade.

Penang has identified our ‘wish list’ to achieve a lower carbon and more resilient economy that will improve our people’s well-being while also contributing to the global effort of climate stabilisation and biodiversity preservation.

Firstly, we are developing Penang’s first carbon framework, which will allow us to better understand our emission sources and what we need to prioritise in order to reduce our CO2 footprint. We need to invest in more efficient and comprehensive economy-wide data collection and analysis to create a robust carbon framework. With this, Penang can adopt science-based targets and pathway to mitigate our CO2 emissions. 

In 2016, Penang adopted the Penang Transport Master Plan or PTMP. It is a comprehensive, efficient and well-connected transport strategy that sets the framework for an integrated and modern transportation system. Once completed, it will overhaul Penang’s public transportation, transform how people commute and reduce greenhouse gas emissions of the transportation sector. Additionally, Penang is aiming to become EV-ready, meaning we are planning to increase the number of our charging stations. 

Apart from transportation, Penang aspires to increase its use of renewable energy. Installation of renewable energy, primarily solar, has nearly tripled since 2020 when compared to the period between 2012 and 2019. And despite being the second smallest state in Malaysia, Penang has the third highest number of GBI-certified buildings in the country. Penang continues to encourage the construction of green buildings and, more importantly, townships that are designed for sustainability and resilience.

Both our local councils are also part of the national Low Carbon Cities initiative and are already investing in a low carbon society. For example, both councils are changing all their streetlights into LED and have built more than 200 kilometres of bike lanes. MBSP was the first local council nationwide to enter into a Supply Agreement for Renewable Energy with TNB, and all future buildings of MBPP will be Green Building Index or GBI-certified.  

Ladies and gentlemen,

If you are unaware, Penang is also the first state to introduce a state-wide Penang Green Industry Programme, championed by PGC. It aims to transform our manufacturing sector to meet the challenges of the 21st Century. We are collaborating with multinational and large local companies to raise awareness and capacity among our small and medium-sized businesses to embark on the green transition. We anticipate that hundreds of millions of dollars will be invested in upgrading our manufacturing sector over the next decade, and it is critical that our companies have access to green financing.

Apart from that, the pandemic taught us about the fragility of global food supply chain and the vulnerability of over-reliance on imported produce. As a result, Penang is in the process of enhancing our food production through urban farming, developing a more resilient aquaculture sector (including research into new food sources), promoting Agri-tourism, and reducing the environmental impact of livestock farming. We also intend to make significant investments in food technology and digitalisation of the sector to improve the livelihoods of our farmers.

Penang is also making investments to strengthen our resilience to climate change, particularly in flood mitigation and disaster early warning systems. We recently received a multi-year funding from the Adaptation Fund to invest in nature-based adaptation projects in the Island. And, we have established a Resilient Infrastructure Taskforce to study climate vulnerability of our infrastructure and identify strategic investments needed to build resilience.

The State Government also comprehend the importance of the digital economy in achieving sustainable development. In 2021, we launched the Penang Digital Transformation Plan to accelerate digitalisation in four areas, namely governance, infrastructure, economy and community. Over the next few years, Penang will increase investments in digital infrastructure and improve the readiness of our people and businesses to adopt digital solutions.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In a nutshell, Penang has been laying the groundwork for a sustainable pathway over the last ten years, and we are now ready to work with partners, especially our financial sector partners, to make a sustainable and climate resilient Penang a reality. I hope that through effective engagements, dialogues, and conferences such as today, Penang can continue to improve as an attractive destination for green investment and finance.

Having said that, I wish this conference a great success and look forward to seeing all of you again. Thank you.

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