The pandemic will not impede progress towards realising SDGs: City Expo Malaysia

The pandemic will not impede progress towards realising SDGs: City Expo Malaysia
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PETALING JAYA (Nov 8): The Covid-19 pandemic will not impede the progress and efforts towards realising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to City Expo Malaysia (CEM) 2021 chairman Ihsan Zainal Mokhtar.

In his welcoming speech at the virtual launch of CEM 2021 on Monday (Nov 8), he noted that a sharing and learning platform such as CEM is fundamental in ensuring that the momentum to establish a “Prosperous, Inclusive and Sustainable Malaysia” in accordance with the 12th Malaysia Plan will not be lost.

“CEM 2021 is not just an exhibition, it is a hybrid of things. A hybrid between an expo and forums, and a hybrid of contents curated to be relevant to everyone, not just the built environment professionals. The aim for CEM is practical; to be the one top centre for solutions and platform to forge discussions, networking and knowledge-sharing amongst a multitude of stakeholders globally.  We aim not to be a one-time event but to be a bi-annual event and show continuous partnership and build stronger momentum over the long run,” Ihsan said.

“CEM shall feature local and international content and partners through a much longer exhibition alongside a five-day forum accessible from anywhere and anytime via virtual platform. I am delighted to announce that we have a great list of exhibitors from prominent cities and corporate organisations and more than 100 local and international speakers with CEM 2021. The exhibitors will showcase their sustainable practices based on 16 curated themes and information on our cities. At CEM, participants may also virtually interact with each exhibitor according to their interests such as safe city, liveable city and many more.”

CEM 2021 is the first and largest free virtual expo on city planning development in Malaysia with an expectant of 10,000 visitors, jointly organised by Malaysian Institute of Planners (MIP) and Nextdor Property Communications.

Comprising a five-day forum and a month-long exhibition where visitors can expect over 100 hours of content and discover more about Malaysian cities, the virtual launch of CEM 2021 was held on the same day as the Word Townplanning Day — a celebration of the progress that cities have achieved in the past 100 years.

The expo will include discussions on global and national issues such as environmental threats, resource management, urban inequality, technology adoption and effective governance. Open discourses and sharing sessions throughout the expo will advocate a nexus of ideas that can tackle these issues.

MIP president Datin Noraida Saludin in her opening address, stated that for the last 100 years, planning professionals in the government, private and academia sectors have contributed greatly in nation building. Town planners have also been entrusted to lead as city mayors and leaders at international organisations.

“Urban planning is essential in helping cities to grow, improving quality of life, transforming the economy and even predicting disasters. Despite the idle chatter against the town planning profession, we have remained and shall continue to be relevant and current as champions of sustainable development, renewable agenda and the new paradigm shift in city planning and urban development. It has been said that planning is about managing change and planners are agents of change. Given the recent events, these sentiments could not be truer,” she added.

“We have seen how Covid-19 fundamentally altered the basic tenets of planning and changed the way we live, work and play. We need to look at innovative ways to create a holistic planning approach that utilises technological innovation and data analytics with a very conscious mind that whatever we do, it is in the interest of the local communities and the public at large. With the recent announcement on the 12th Malaysian Plan focusing on prosperous, inclusive and sustainable Malaysia, the role of town planners is even critical and in fact indispensable.”

He also shared that MIP had initiated collaboration with UN Habitat since the middle of this year and hopes to begin collaboration programmes by early 2022.

When officiating CEM 2021, Ministry of Local Government and Housing (KPKT) secretary general Datuk M Noor Azman Taib said that CEM 2021’s 16 themes of exhibitions that revolve around sustainability are very close to the ministry’s core values.

“Reviving abandoned housing projects and reviewing issues currently barring the completion of housing projects is currently our priority. … Malaysia made a commitment to become carbon neutral earliest by 2050, with advancing sustainability as one of the 12th Malaysian Plan themes. At present, the low carbon city framework is in place guide on low carbon buildings and infrastructures with four main areas, which are urban environment, urban infrastructure, urban transportation and buildings. In addition, this framework will also be continuously developed and monitored in ensuring it stays current and implemented by the local authorities,” he said.

“Thus, KPKT is supporting the Waste Eco Park (WEP) initiative targeting waste, recycling, recovery and treatment activities by the solid waste processing industries. With the WEP in place, we hope it will generate investments and facilities and infrastructure towards holistic ways and management activities, which in turn will also contribute to the national economy.”

The officiation then continued was followed by the CEM Star Awards 2021, which was presented by CEM 2021 director Abdul Halim Ali Hassan. This award is based on the collective effort by an individual or organisation to achieve long term goals and development objectives that ultimately improve cities and its citizens.

The CEM Gold Star award for outstanding individual was won by Datuk Seri Mahadi Che Ngah and the CEM Platinum award for outstanding organisation was won by Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA).

CEM director Imran Clyde presented a hands-on navigation, showcasing the features that visitors can find on the CEM 2021 website such as the lobby, exhibition hall, video vault, swag bag, forum hall, info desk, leaderboard and networking lounge, which all function to enhance the virtual experience of the expo.

“City Expo is envisioned as a long-term programme, so if you are involved in any city-related programmes, do get in touch with us for more collaborations. We look forward to seeing you throughout the 30 days, so do experience, engage and interact,” Imran said.

Racheal Lee