Malaysia’s approach to SDGs implementation is inherent in the cross-cutting nature of SDGs although it is disjointed in practice at some level. Concerted attempts have been taken at the national, sub-national and local level in the delivery of all the 17 Goals. Overall, Malaysia continues to make progress regarding SDG 1, SDG 7, SDG 8 & SDG 9, moderately improving in SDG 3, SDG 5, SDG 6, SDG 11 & 16 and still stagnating in SDG 2, 4, 13, 14 & 15. However, the current performance may be affected due to the Covid-19 Pandemic as experienced by other countries and is likely to have severe short term negative impacts on SDG 1,2,3 & 8. The pandemic gravely amplifies inequalities in many forms. While SDG integration into the national planning and development is indeed an important government agenda and with just 9 years left to implement the 2030 Agenda, close monitoring is essential to ensure Malaysia is on the right track to achieve the goals.
National planning, implementation and budget commitments
This includes setting up a governance structure for monitoring, evaluation and reporting to ensure the SDGs were localized and made relevant for implementation at the national level. Besides that, the incorporation of SDGs into national planning framework has been made, as well as the production of SDG National Roadmap to guide and give clear direction for SDGs implementation in Malaysia. Malaysia is working towards the 2030 Agenda by way of three phases. The duration of each phase is five-years stretching from 2016 to 2030, which is aligned to each of the country’s three national development plans during that period. The SDG related programme and projects are funded through existing mechanisms under each five-year Malaysia Plan and supplemented through collaboration with private sector, non-government organizations, civil society, academia and international agencies.
Progress since last VNR
While some progress have been made across all eight selected SDGs examined in the first VNR (1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 15, 15 and 17), more work is required in implementing the priorities that are set out on these agendas. With regards to the data collection and availability in monitoring SDG targets and indicators, Department of Statistic Malaysia (DOSM) was mandated as a focal point. A total of 128 indicators were identified and made available out of 247 - which is an applaudable achievement, although the room for improvement is still there. Moving forward, the Twelfth Malaysia Plan and Shared Prosperity Vision (SPV) 2030 are currently being developed taking SDGs into its cognizance. Shared Prosperity Delivery Unit (SEPADU) was established under the Prime Minister’s Office as a focal point for SPV2030.
Key communities who face being left behind
There are a few communities with intersecting identities being left behind. In Malaysia, there are refugees, migrants, undocumented persons as well as stateless persons. These communities also face discrimination due to the geographic area in which they reside, as they are in urban slums and rural areas. Similarly, the refugees do not benefit from development agenda. Persons with disabilities face marginalization due to the lack of universal access to public service and facilities. With regards to national development policies, the small-scale farmers, fisherfolks, and small-scale entrepreneurs are being left behind as they face structural barriers. This is often reflected in the lack of access to needs-based aid, and the misaligned local development agenda. Additionally, the LGBTQI community faces systemic discrimination which impacts their access to employment and faces societal stigma
How have you engaged across communities?
There have been more opportunities to engage with marginalized and discriminated communities through the bipartisan mechanism established by the All-Party Parliamentary Group Malaysia on Sustainable Development Goals (APPGM-SDG). At the national level, the main coordinator of the SDGs which is the Economic Planning Unit, are initiating and supportive of various engagement platforms such as forums and round-table discussions. There are also engagement with the parliamentarians, government agencies at the federal, state and local levels, as well as grassroots communities. For instance, the APPGM-SDG has the mandate to localise SDG at the parliamentary constituency level, while URBANICE takes the lead at the local government level. This is for the purpose of policy research and initiating short-term to medium-term solutions projects led by the communities. However, the lack of dis-aggregated data becomes the main challenge in accessing these communities which affects evidence-based decision making.
Overview of climate change
Climate change combined with rapid development have intensified climate risks in forms of floods, drought, emerging diseases and biodiversity loss which threatens coastal habitation, infrastructure, food security and public health. As of 2013, Malaysia has achieved 33% reduction in GDP emission intensity of its Paris Agreement NDC of 45% reduction by 2030 compared to 2005 level. However, long-term ambition is required in developing low emission pathways and setting peak-emission target. In addition to mitigation, adaptation policies and risk-based planning must be prioritised to build adaptive capacity and climate resilience. A regulatory framework and expansion of risk and vulnerability assessment are required to mainstream adaptation and guide development planning. Policies to prioritise and upscale nature-based solutions are needed to achieve co-benefits in addressing mitigation and adaptation with socio-economic challenges.
Civil society priorities
Stalled institutional reforms and lack of political will to fight institutionalised corruption. Institutionalised space needed for civil society participation at sub-national / local levels. Failure to ratify ICERD, International Convention against Torture (CAT). End detention without trail and custodial death. UNDRIP ratified but yet to be codified into legislation. There is a need for Environment and climate justice. Needs of institutional reforms for migrants, refugees, and victims of trafficking remain unaddressed. No safe migration law / policy which makes these groups more vulnerable with no access to justice, protection, health care, proper jobs, and risks being abused by employers.
Civil society engagement
The Malaysian CSO SDG Alliance has been working closely with the Economic Planning Unit since 2015. There are CSO members in the National Steering Committee (NSC) on SDGs, but their participation has been consultative and ad hoc. Although the NSC did not sit frequently, the members have been called quite intensively for the VNR preparations. CSOs are calling for regular meetings yearly for review and monitoring of SDGs at the Federal, State, and local levels. The Agenda 2030 2030 can be achieved only if the multi stakeholder partnerships with civil societies can be institutionalized for active participation and regular consultation.
Only the 17 SDG Goals and the Targets have been translated into Malay. Translation of the Agenda into local languages of the indigenous peoples nor the large minority of ethnic Chinese, and Indians does not currently exists. A handful of Local Governments in urban localities are actively engaged in SDGs, either at municipal level or focusing on community based development. Universities have developed Graduate, Master and Doctorate level degrees, while Researchers are studying how the SDGs can bring more balanced development in the country.