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IPW: Malaysia proposes climate adaptation plan, and global SDG progress stalls

05 July 2022

In this week’s Infrastructure Policy Watch, Malaysia addresses climate change, while a report paints mixed picture of SDG success. 

IPW: Malaysia proposes climate adaptation plan, and global SDG progress stalls
Malaysian Parliament in Kuala Lumpur. Image credit: Shutterstock

Malaysian prime minister announces plans to create climate adaptation strategy

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has announced plans for the creation of a Malaysian National Adaptation Plan to address the growing impacts of climate change.

The announcement comes after bad flooding across the country in December 2021.

The plan intends to create strategies for sectors, including infrastructure.

The announcement came at the third meeting of the Malaysia Climate Action Council, where discussions focused on progress in flood management.

Alongside a National Adaptation Plan, the prime minister also announced that the government would encourage state governments to adopt the Malaysian Climate Change Adaptation Index to improve responsiveness.

He also indicated that progress would be made to “integrate climate change factors in the planning, design and adaptation of water and infrastructure projects to reduce the risk of flood disasters”.

ICE's view:

COP27 this year will place a greater emphasis on climate adaptation and resilience.

This is starting to have an effect around the world with governments taking a harder look at their plans (or lack of in many cases).

Climate resilience and adaptation are important for infrastructure systems.

The IPCC this year reminded us that climate change will be happening (how severe is down to mitigation efforts) and that already we are seeing damage to infrastructure systems globally, with adverse impacts in all regions.

We've explored the size of the challenge at a Presidential Roundtable and held a Strategy Session to better understand how to integrate infrastructure policy and climate resilience.

Later this year, we'll be running a research programme to explore this question in greater detail.

2022 Sustainable Development Report paints a mixed picture on SDG progress

The Sustainable Development Report 2022has recently been published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

The report coincides with the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2022, being held by the UN Economic and Social Council.

The report finds that:

  • For the second year in a row, the world is no longer making progress on the SDGs; multiple health and security crises have led to a reversal in SDG progress.
  • Performance on SDG 1 (No Poverty) and SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) remain below pre-pandemic levels.
  • Progress on climate and biodiversity goals is also too slow, especially in rich countries.
  • A global plan to finance the SDGs is needed, with the poorest half of the world locked out of market access to finance on acceptable terms.
  • Policy efforts and commitments supporting the SDGs vary significantly across countries, including among G20 countries, with the US not yet submitting a Voluntary National Review against the SDGs.

Looking at country-specific progress on the SDG index for the countries that generally feature in ICE's Infrastructure Policy Watch series, the report finds (note this is limited by data availability):

  • Canada (ranked 29/163) with a decrease in progress on responsible consumption and production.
  • UK (11/163) with a decrease in progress on reducing inequalities.
  • United States (41/163) with decreases in progress on reducing inequalities and responsible consumption and production.
  • South Africa (108/163) with decreases in progress on progress against no poverty.
  • Australia (38/163) with decreases in progress on reducing inequalities and responsible consumption and production.
  • New Zealand (26/163) with decreases in progress on responsible consumption and production and life below water.
  • Malaysia (72/163) with no decreases.
  • Singapore (60/163) with decreases in progress on life on land.

The SDG progress index goes into greater detail, with most of the countries above having significant challenges remaining however all see progress in one or more other indicators.

ICE's view:

As the report notes, "despite these difficult times, the SDGs should remain the roadmap for achieving sustainable development by 2030 and beyond."

This was also the message reinforced by the IPCC earlier this year that “multiple climate-resilient development pathways (the process of implementing greenhouse gas mitigation and adaptation measures to support sustainable development) are still possible.”

Infrastructure has a crucial role to play in achieving the SDGs.

Not only is there an infrastructure SDG (SDG 9), but research has shown that 72% of the SDG indicators are linked to networked infrastructure investment and 92% when all forms of infrastructure are considered.

Governments need to use the Goals to guide policy development and our recent policy paper outlines how they can play a role in the UK government's levelling up agenda.

In case you missed it…

Check back in a fortnight for the next edition of theICE's Infrastructure Policy Watch.

You can also sign up to ICE Informs to get a monthly digest of the latest policy activities from ICE, including calls for evidence to support our ongoing advice to policymakers.

  • Chris Richards, director of policy at Institution of Civil Engineers