a THINK TANK of the Centre for Environment, Technology & Development, Malaysia (CETDEM).

[ Objectives of SUDI | Focus Areas | Official Launch | Comments & Observations | Studies ]


There is no independent ‘think tank’ in Malaysia that focuses specifically on sustainable development issues. The ongoing global environmental crisis would affect all aspects of our lives and meeting these challenges will determine our future in ways that we can hardly imagine.

Climate change will affect our food security as agriculture becomes more vulnerable to more severe floods and droughts and crop failures become more common. Together with the rising cost of petroleum as a result of scarcity of this crucial resource for industrial scale agriculture, food security is a very real threat in the coming years.

There is a huge information gap as the stakeholders, such as the government, corporations and the public, grapple to know the real environmental impact and ramifications of (say) rising energy prices on climate change, the long-term impact of the country’s high dependence on fossil fuels in the transport sector, just to name a few.

Objectives of SUDI

1. To facilitate the success of a comprehensive green development policy.
2. Provide government, energy-related companies, media, and other stakeholders an independent assessment of the energy & sustainable development-related issues, challenges and how the problems can be addressed.
3. Promote the use of genuine green technology as one of the ways to make the transition to sustainable industrial development.
4. Provide an alternative/independent view of the issues/concerns of the day.
5. Act as an independent monitoring and assessment vehicle of government programmes and projects of public interest.
6. Ensure that sustainable development-related information will be accessible to a wider spectrum of people and organizations.
7. Promote private sector partnership.
8. Provide fora for inter-sectoral and multi- stakeholder dialogues.
9. Strengthen the information and data base in CETDEM with a view to sharing them with other stakeholders.
10. Promote regional partnerships with like-minded organizations.
11. Serve as an effective forum to discuss sustainable development issues.

Focus Areas

The following are the areas SUDI can assist in achieving sustainability:

- Low-carbon development options
- A more concerted and strategic approach to Green Technologies
- Intensify Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Efforts especially in the industrial and transport sectors
- Sustainable energy paths in the transport sector
- Reduce the adverse environmental impacts of development
- Increase natural resource productivity as a means of combating natural resource depletion
- Ensure that Malaysia makes the transition to sustainable development with the minimal ecological and human costs

Official Launch

SUDI was launched on Monday 1st Aug. 2011 at Hotel Armada Petaling Jaya.

UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Kamal Malhotra, officially launched SUDI.

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Read more: Sustainable Development Initiatives (SUDI) is launched!

Comments & Observations

Access to government information and documents is proving very difficult because of the confidential nature of the information and data.

In short, important sustainable development-related information and data are not available in the public domain.

CETDEM seeks to address this gap by the setting up of SUDI that would serve the interests of the various stakeholders, including the private sector.

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Studies by SUDI


SUDI initiated its first study on “Low Carbon Sustainable Development Options for Malaysia” on 1st September 2011.

The Study Team comprised of:

- ENGR. GURMIT SINGH, an environmentalist, engineer and social activist with almost 40 years of experience – currently Chairman of CETDEM and Director of SUDI
- MR. CHANG YII TAN, an economist with over 30 years of experience of undertaking studies for the public and private sectors – currently Director of PE Research Sdn. Bhd.
- DATO’ DR. LEONG YUEH KWONG, a long time environmental consultant, provided occasional advice to the Team.

Ms Lee Yvonne had a 6 month stint as SUDI Research Assistant.

Inputs were received during a number of task group meetings. A final workshop that was held on 9 April 2012, funded by UNDP Malaysia office.

Funds were raised through a series of dinners and other fundraising efforts of CETDEM which allowed CETDEM to allocate funds for this Study. This Study also received a financial contribution from FMM – Malaysian Insulation Manufacturers Group.

The Report of this study was launched under the title LOWERING THE HEAT on 14th June 2012. DIGI Telecommunications covered the cost of producing this Report, its launch and other activities to disseminate its findings.

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Click on image to enlarge sample page 97 from LTH

LOWERING THE HEAT is available to the public and may be purchased at the CETDEM Office at a nominal price of RM15 only.

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SUDI’s second study is on “Eco Transformation: Challenges in Entrenching Sustainability within existing Malaysian towns”. TOR was finalized with help from USM lecturers and Dato’ Dr Leong Yueh Kwong. This study [in the spirit of eco-transformation] aims to define appropriate sustainability criteria for existing Malaysian towns, assess how these can be entrenched within the town administration and community, examine the challenges faced in doing so in 4 Malaysian towns, and recommend actions to overcome these challenges.

The four towns (George Town, Kuantan, Petaling Jaya and Malacca) were chosen because they are similar in size and population, and located within Peninsular Malaysia, making them accessible to the study team with a small budget available. These towns have shown some interest in sustainability and will also allow some contrast in their governance. While the first two are under Pakatan State governments, the other two are under the Barisan Nasional Party which also forms the Federal government.

SUDI Director, Eng. Gurmit Singh heads the Study Team comprising of 2 principal researchers. Dr. Hezri is the researcher in charge of evaluating Kuantan and Petaling Jaya. Mr. BK Sinha takes charge of George Town and Malacca, while Mr. Sathis a/l Venkitasamy is the study Research Assistant. An Inception Workshop was held on Saturday, 5th January 2013 at Hotel Armada, Petaling Jaya. CETDEM thanks UNDP for underwriting this workshop.

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Sustainability in the 4 towns is measured via:

- Globally accepted indicators of sustainability;
- Ecological footprint is now widely used and accepted internationally but it needs data which is often not available at the regional and local level. Hence, they are only used where possible;
- Comparison of other indicators at town level and choose the common ones.

The first chapter has been compiled from discussions and literature review to spell out the benchmarks. 14 major indicators and 23 sub-indicators for town level evaluation have been identified.

Members of the study team will examine each of the 4 towns through site visits, interviews and published documents [including Structure Plans]. They will assess how well sustainability has been entrenched and identify the challenges to be overcome. The chapter on each town will be reviewed by a small focus group from the town before it is finalized. The study team will then assess the common challenges and make recommendations on how these can be overcome. Sathis is assisting with collecting general data, which is still in the progress. He has conducted field sampling involving smokey vehicles count, drain and river monitoring covering flats and coffee shops in Petaling Jaya.

Stagnant drain at Paramount flats

Sungai Way, PJS 6/5C, Taman Desaria

Originally, this study was scheduled for completion in September 2013. Unfortunately, there have been delays due to circumstances beyond our control. For all intents and pusposes, we had nearly 2 months (end-March through mid-May) in which we could hardly do any productive research with Local, State or Federal level government agency due to the nation’s preoccupation with GE13. Thus, the study is expected to be completed in November.

The Advisory Panel consists of:
- Dato’ Dr Leong Yueh Kwong, an environmental scientist and conservationist;
- Datuk Dr Goh Ban Lee, a SUN columnist and former councilor Penang Island Municipal Council,
- Dr Lee Lit Meng, a Registered Town Planner with interests in sustainability issues and planning law. He has worked in USM for almost 30 years with previous experiences in private consultancy and local government.

CETDEM welcomes contributions and pledges from the Private Sector for funding of RM100,000. The study is self-funded till now as external funding has yet to be obtained. Donations are solicited.


“Towards Water Sustainability” was started on 2nd January 2018. The Study recoginised that Malaysia itself does not have many effective sustainable practices ranging form comprehensive and efficient water management to mainataining adequate water supply and quality. Two draft papers on governance and physical aspects were commissioned at the beginning, and their findings discussed with invited stakeholders in 5 major towns (Petaling Jaya, George Town, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching and Johor Bahru).

The formation of the Ministry of Water and Natural Resources (KATS) mid-way through the study has resolved one of the major Recommendations of the Governance chapter.

SUDI Director, Eng. Gurmit Singh heads the Study Team comprising of 2 principal researchers, Dr. Hezri Adnan and Ir. Ellias Saidin and Research Assistant, Ms Hazel Ronella Makulin.

The Study Report was launched by Eng. Gurmit Singh on 10th December 2018.

Click to view full size

The Advisory Panel consists of:
- Datuk Ir. Hj. Ahmad Husaini b Sulaiman, former DG of DID;
- Ir. Tony YC Liew, MD of Pollution Engineering Sdn. Bhd.; and,
- Dato Teo Yen Hua, former CEO of SPAN.

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