One for All, All for One for Nature
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A problem with much of environmentalism is that whereas most people agree with its goals of saving species and protecting nature (or what’s left of it), they may be rather less likely to be on board when it comes to personally doing something about them. Let’s call this the “let it be someone else’s problem” mindset. This applies equally to businesses and institutions, many of which pay lip service regularly to green causes but few of which actually pursue truly green practices.
Economic development rarely comes without considerable environmental costs; we all know that. In recent years “sustainable development” has become a hardy perennial of a buzzword, but what is meant by “sustainable” is largely left undefined and open to interpretation. What should not be in doubt is that sustainability needs to be a collaborative enterprise. For environmental sustainability to work, what is needed is concerted long-term efforts undertaken by citizens, businesses and government agencies alike to ensure Malaysia’s natural resources are not stretched to their limits or sacrificed entirely at the altar of economic development.
Citizens often look to their government to solve problems, even as they may fail to see how their own actions might affect their immediate environment. They continue squandering natural resources like fresh water; they carry on leading wasteful lifestyles; they keep on engaging in environmentally harmful practices like slash-and-burn cultivation. Many of them do, at any rate. That is why a top-down approach without grassroots support can rarely succeed. The converse also tends to be true: a bottom-up approach may well fail without help from the top.
Malaysia’s environment is the collective property of all citizens. But it’s also their collective responsibility. Many lawmakers and decision makers recognize this. Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, minister of Resource Planning and Environment in Sarawak, has for one called on citizens, private businesses and government institutions to join forces in making the required changes for the sake of increased environmental friendliness across Malaysia.
“Implementing development projects obviously comes with a price, in particular its impacts on the environment and rich biodiversity,” he noted, before going on to reel off a list of common environmental issues from extensive air and water pollution to developmental encroachment on natural habitats. His conclusion: Malaysians should all do their part in protecting the nation’s environment.