Petaling Jaya, 21 April 2021 – We are not on track to restore the Earth, but it is still not too late for us to turn the tables. Themed “Restore Our Earth” for Earth Day 2021, this year’s celebration focuses on natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems.
Human activities are the main cause of climate change. Increased use of fossil fuels to generate electricity and for transportation; uncontrolled deforestation and peatland degradation for development and land-use change; and expansion in intensive agriculture have all increased the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide by 47% since the Industrial Revolution began and emits other powerful greenhouse gases like methane and nitrous oxide. Development is vital, but such development should be sustainable without compromising the environmental sensitives. Achieving the aspiration of becoming an inclusive and sustainably developed country requires a transition from the conventional development trajectory of “grow first, clean up later” to the development trajectory of the sustainability dimension. It should include initiatives to reduce climate change, disaster risk management, and carbon emissions as well as the sustainable management of gifted land with valuable environmental resources for the long term to protect and conserve the environment of the country.
Faizal Parish, Director of Global Environment Centre (GEC) said, “Natural ecosystems provide critical services to all of us as well as supporting biodiversity. “Mangroves protect our coastline from storms and erosion and are the breeding and nursery habitat for much of our seafood; while peatlands store water and prevent floods as well as being our most important carbon store, helping to regulate climate. Ninety-seven (97%) of our water supply in Malaysia comes from rivers. However, unsustainable human activities are degrading all the ecosystems and threatening the goods and services that they provide. To prevent further degradation, we must actively manage and restore these ecosystems to continue receiving their benefits.
In celebration of Earth Day 2021, GEC is proud to share some of our achievements to ‘restore our Earth’. GEC has worked in partnership with the governments of all 10 ASEAN Member States for more than 20 years to address peatland management challenges and help prevent transboundary haze. As the founding collaborative partner of the ASEAN Peatland Management Strategy and ASEAN Peatland Management Initiative, it has helped to guide the management of the 23 million hectares of peatlands in Southeast Asia. In some parts of the region, it has been able to reduce peatland fires by up to 90%. GEC has also pioneered community-based rehabilitation and conservation of the environment. Since 2005, we have helped in the formation of five community groups, dedicated to the rehabilitation of degraded mangrove areas in Johor, Perak and Selangor. More than 300,000 mangrove trees have been successfully planted at these sites with a survival rate of more than 80%, thanks to the strong participation of the local communities.
GEC has also pioneered community-based river rehabilitation, water conservation and waste management approaches to safeguard our rivers. Under the umbrella of Friends of Klang River Basin (FoKRB), more than 35 community groups are actively engaged in activities ranging from river health monitoring, clean-up, community gardening, waste management and awareness spreading. Our National River Care Fund has provided grants to support nearly 40 groups after the last 5 years.
The GEC has also supported the preparation of several peat swamp forest, mangrove forest and river management policies or plans at the state and national levels implementation for the sustainable management and restoration of
degraded areas as well as strengthening community -based rehabilitation programme at the local level in several states. Join GEC to protect our mother Earth and take responsibility towards better management of the Earth resources.”
In conjunction with Earth Day 2021, GEC is calling everyone to cherish the Earth and take action to protect our only home. We urge the government agencies, investors, private sectors as well as non-governmental organisations, local communities and the public to play their part in protecting and restoring the earth and its ecosystems. Only by working together can we heal our mother Earth.
The public can take action by:
a) establishing joining a local group to clean-up your neighbourhood;
b) rethink reduce, or recycle your waste;
c) reduce your water or energy footprint;
d) volunteer for an NGO or restoration programme;
e) making a donation to a recognised NGO; or
f) campaign or lobbying your state assemblyman or MP to address key environmental issues.
GEC would also like to acknowledge the support of its many partners and funders who have supported its rehabilitation and conservation efforts.
All of us needs an Earth that is in good condition for our happiness and survival of current and future generations. A HEALTHY PLANET IS NOT AN OPTION – IT IS A NECESSITY.