Ministry of the Environment > Global Environment > ECO-SCRJAPAN > Overseas articles > Iskandar Malaysia: Development of Low Carbon Society Scenarios for Asian Regions

Iskandar Malaysia: Development of Low Carbon Society Scenarios for Asian Regions

1.0 Background and Purpose

The project on Development of Low carbon society for Asian regions uses Iskandar Malaysia as a study case. Iskandar Malaysia is located at south Johor the southern tip of Peninsular Malaysia. This region has grown to become the second most important economic conurbation in Malaysian and its economy is well diversified with successful clusters emerging around the electronics, logistics, food and agriculture, tourism and oil and petrochemical industries. Iskandar Malaysia was established on 30 July 2006 and the project is administered by IRDA (Iskandar Malaysia Development Authority). In the same year, the government of Malaysia launched master plan or Comprehensive Development Plan for this South Johor Economic Region (SJER) aims to address socio-economic development in a holistic and sustainable manner. The former name of this region – South Johor Economic Region (SJER) is latter renamed as Iskandar Malaysia in honoured of late Sultan of Johor state , Almarhum Sultan Iskandar ibni Sultan Ismail.

This research project on ‘Development of Low Carbon Society Scenarios for Asian Regions’ is initiated by a team of multidisciplinary researchers from the prominent research institutions from Malaysia and Japan – Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Kyoto University (KU), National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES) and Okayama University (OU). The project is supported by JST (Japan Science and Technology Agency), and JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency). This project is also listed as one of the major activities in Japan-Malaysia Joint Leaders’ Statement “Enhanced Partnership for a New Frontier”, disclosed on April 19, 2010, by Prime Ministers of both countries. The project is then officially sealed with Record of Discussion in June 2011 and launched by the Chief Minister of Johor State in June 2012

In line with the Malaysia Government’s aspiration to reduce carbon intensity by 40% by 2020 as compared to its level in 2005 and transforming Iskandar Malaysia into a sustainable metropolis with international standing, this research project aims to draw key policies and strategies in guiding the development of Iskandar Malaysia in mitigating carbon emission and ensuring the climate resilient development for sustainability. The benefit of this research project is not limited to Iskandar Malaysia and Malaysia solely as the substantial findings will be disseminated towards other cities in Asian countries.

Malaysia Government Commitment
Speech by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia.

“… Malaysia is adopting an indicator of a voluntary reduction up to 40% in terms of emission intensity of GDP by the year 2020 compared to 2005 levels.”

Copenhagen, Denmark ; December 17, 2009


Figure 1 (top): Voluntary pledge of 40% reduction in carbon emission intensity by 2020.
Figure 2 (bottom left): Location of Malaysia and Iskandar Malaysia, the third largest metropolitan in Malaysia.
Figure 3 (bottom right): Iskandar Malaysia and its major urban centres.

The overall aim of this research project will result in and benefit not only the specific region but the whole nation and also the Asian Region. This research will be a hands-on project where the researchers and government officers or administrators of the developing countries will have the opportunity to work together in implementing the research outputs within the city or regions involved. This will ultimately enable the formation of an organization of a network for the Asian Low Carbon Society in Asian region.

Specifically, the quantitative indicators for this study are:

  • To determine the total energy consumption and CO2 emission based on the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) of Iskandar Malaysia.
  • To compute a summary of quantitative alternative scenarios on the establishment of a sustainable low-carbon society.
  • To identify potential mitigation measures and policy in the areas of building, transportation, and solid waste management.
  • To promote awareness among local authorities, the State Government, stakeholders and the community in general to realize a robust growth and a low carbon society in Iskandar Malaysia.

2.0 Approach of Project – Bridging Science and Policy

Cities are main contributors to greenhouse gases (GHGs) emission and susceptible to global warming. In particular for the cities of developing nations in Asian regions including Malaysia with increasing population growth and continuous economy development consuming vast resources generating enormous waste are producing a large volume of GHGs. These cities do not have enough resources and capacity to deal with such issue.

In bringing science into practice, the research team has strong collaboration with Iskandar Malaysia Regional Authority (IRDA), Federal Town and Country Planning Department (JPBD) and Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water Malaysia (KeTTHA). The Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) program support and facilitate experts from Japan to share and exchange LCS experience and expertise in this case study. This 5 years research project begins with a pilot study on Iskandar Malaysia (IM), a visionary economic region located at the southernmost tip of Mainland Asia that is poised to become a regional economic powerhouse by 2025.



Figure 4: Research collaborators, policy implementers
LAs: Local Authorities
LCS: Low Carbon Society
BPs: Blueprints

To date the research team has formulated both full and summary report on Low Carbon Society Blueprint for Iskandar Malaysia 2025. It is a document comprising climate change mitigation options for carbon reduction and promoting greater sustainability for Iskandar Malaysia. The blueprint is the update to the previous earlier preliminary report, ‘Low Carbon City 2025: Sustainable Iskandar Malaysia’ which was published on 2009.

The Low Carbon Society Blueprint for Iskandar Malaysia 2025 was the outcome from unique social inclusive approach between experts, policymakers and communities. The scientific inputs from multidisciplinary local and foreign researchers cum feedbacks from local communities and policymakers are considered in the crafting of blueprint. A series of stakeholder discussions were held by the research team with residents, industries, business communities, local municipalities, public agencies and non-governmental organizations in the process of policy making for blueprint. The public consultations ensure the gap of science and policy making being minimize and the blueprint will be feasible in term of socio-political context and effective implementation.

Figure 5 & 6 (top): Stakeholder discussions between researchers, policymakers and local communities.
Figure 7 & 8 (bottom): International symposium on low carbon Asia research project as platform for knowledge sharing.

To support the scientific findings of the blueprint, the research team has carried out intensive secondary data collection via literature review, conducting numbers of technical tour to learn about local and abroad best practices of low carbon city development and ground survey for primary data collection on Iskandar Malaysia. Besides, the research team had also organized three (3) international symposiums on Low carbon Asia research project and participating in 17th and 18th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 17 and COP 18). These international symposiums and conferences allow research team members to exchange their knowledge, dialogues and network with other researchers and policymakers on the global arena. Furthermore, training workshops on GHGs emission and low carbon society modelling were occasionally organized for students and implementation agencies to build the more capacity, awareness and consensus. The research team being the academicians, postdoctoral, and postgraduates scholars have actively involved in publication of journals, proceedings, books and reports for disseminating research outputs in expanding knowledge.

Figure 9, 10, 11 & 12: The recent participation in 18th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCC (COP 18) – side event, media interview and exhibition for demonstrating the experience of low carbon society research project in Iskandar Malaysia.


Figure 13 & 14: Low carbon society scenario training workshop for students and implementation agencies.


Figure 15 & 16: Technical visit for in-depth understanding on the best practices of environmental education and consensus building.


Figure 17, 18, 19 & 20: Ground survey for collecting primary data on household and landfill in Iskandar Malaysia.

3.0 Blueprint of Low carbon society for Iskandar Malaysia

The blueprint was officially launched by Prime minister of Malaysia and Chief executive of IRDA on December 2012. The execution of the blueprint will be beginning on first quarter of 2013. The blueprint outlined 12 actions to reduce the carbon emission of Iskandar Malaysia. Among these actions are; (i) Integrated green transportation, (ii) Green industry, (iii) Low carbon urban governance, (iv) Green building and construction, (v) Green energy system and renewable energy, (vi) Low carbon lifestyle, (vii) Community engagement and consensus building, (iix) Walkable, safe and livable city design (ix) Smart Urban Growth, (x) Green and blue infrastructure and rural resources, (xi) Sustainable waste management and (xii) Clean air environment.

Figure 21 & 22: Launching of Low Carbon Society Blueprint for Iskandar Malaysia 2025 by Prime Minister of Malaysia.

The Blueprint is a written document that presents comprehensive climate change mitigation policies (carbon emission intensity reduction actions and sub-actions) and detailed strategies (measures and programs) to guide development of Iskandar towards achieving its vision of ‘a strong, sustainable metropolis of international standing’ by 2025. The integration of two competing goals – ‘strong’ and ‘sustainable’ – in a single development vision poses great challenges to Iskandar Malaysia’s growth policies and development planning. On one hand, the urban region needs to develop a prosperous, resilient, robust and globally competitive economy (the ‘strong’ dimension); on the other (the ‘sustainability’ dimension), it needs to nurture a healthy and knowledgeable society that subscribes to low carbon living and at the same time develop a total urban-regional environment that enables rapid economic growth but reduces growth’s energy demand and carbon emission intensity. This calls for a holistic and integrated approach, involving policies and strategies on Green Economy, Green Community and Green environment, to decouple rapid growth from carbon emission in Iskandar Malaysia. Meeting this challenge has been the primary goal and underlying philosophy of the blueprint.

About the author

Ho Chin Siong

Senate member of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia,
Deputy Director of Office of International Affairs and
Professor of Faculty of Built Environment, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.

Ho Chin Siong is currently Senate member of UTM, Professor of Faculty Built Environment and Deputy Director of Office of international affairs at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. He is a chartered member of Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), registered member of the Board of Town Planning Malaysia and corporate member of Malaysian Institute of Planners (MIP). He received Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (1983), MSc Construction Management from Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, UK (1987) and Doctor of Engineering from Toyohashi University of Technology, Japan (1994). He was a post doctoral fellow under Hitachi Scholarship to Japan (1995) and Royal Society of Malaysia / Chevening Scholarship to United Kingdom (2005), Visiting scientist under Japan Society Promotion of Science-Vice Chancellor Council Grant (2005-2010). He is also project leader for Development Low Carbon Society Scenario for Asian Regions working closely with Kyoto University, Okayama University and National Institute Environmental Studies (NIES), Tsukuba sponsored under SATREPS program by JICA and JST Japan (2011-2016). His current research areas of interest are in low carbon and green city planning, sustainable urban development, energy efficient city, and Built Environment education. He has published many papers in international journal and books.