Such a multi-pronged approach to develop the new and existing cities would yield to a sustainable environment within Asian cities.

Iskandar: Planning Towards a Low Carbon Economy

Rajnish Ahuja | Pahle India Foundation


Iskandar Malaysia is one of the five development corridors of Malaysia that encompasses an area of 2,217 square kilometers and is strategically located to the north of Singapore. The Iskandar Regional Development Authority’s approach in developing Iskandar Malaysia is focused on management of natural resources and developing sustainable in a green way to realize a vision of “strong and sustainable metropolis of international standing” for Iskandar. The Low carbon Society Blueprint was developed to put across possible measures for the development of Iskandar Malaysia. The Blueprint charts out 12 low carbon society (LCS) options to achieve the potential carbon emission reductions.

For the transport sector, the Plan includes intercity high speed rail transit, infusion of low carbon vehicles, green freight transportation and integrated public transportation which is projected to reduce carbon emission in Iskandar Malaysia by 1,916 ktCO2 equivalent in 2025. The next proposed step in reduction of GHG gases is promotion of ‘Green Industry’ which would focus on green industrial products. Governance is yet another issue to look at, while planning for development of a region and so the plan lies down measures for institutionalization of low carbon vision & carbon reduction targets in all statutory plans with design of clear low carbon zoning and urban design codes. This could be done by retraining of planners, architects, engineers and other built environment professionals and semi‐professionals in state and local planning authorities.


The plan also lays down the necessity of construction of Green buildings for which the approval processes will be expedited and identification of the existing buildings where energy efficiency could be improved. Use of recyclable and low embodied energy building materials and introduction of building energy management systems during the construction reduces the carbon footprint at the scratch. This would also include the climatically adapted architecture in rural areas. To make the city as a sustainable metropolis, promotion of renewable energy technologies such as solar energy and waste to energy have been emphasized in the plan. The plan also mentions the establishment of a smart grid and incentives for green energy initiatives. The low carbon lifestyle is yet another low carbon society option that suggests measures of smart working style of work from home or working in staggered hours. This would also include awareness creation regarding the environment by NGOs, schools and local communities.

The plan stresses on community engagement which would include various stakeholders who would look at the management of low carbon action plans and organize periodic ‘low carbon society’ workshops. Under the city design ambit, Iskandar Malaysia targets at increasing walking from 7% of all trips in 2005 to 20% by 2025 and cycling from 3% of all trips in 2005 to 5% by 2025 by providing walkways and interconnected pedestrian network and crime prevention through environmental design which includes installation of CCTVs at strategic locations, identification and elimination of blind spots & gap spaces, community patrolling and GIS database on crime occurrences. The LCS option also includes smart urban growth which comprises of gradual urban function reconcentration in polycentric nodes connected by public transportation. The development plan for Iskandar includes of Green and blue infrastructure which comprises of protection of existing forests, mangrove areas and their regeneration and creation of new urban parks. Waste management in a sustainable manner by implementing the 3R principle (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) and emphasis on clean air quality add to the list of ‘low carbon society’ actions.

Such a multi-pronged approach to develop the new and existing cities would yield to a sustainable environment within Asian cities.


About Rajnish Ahuja
Rajnish Ahuja is Associate Fellow at Pahle India Foundation and Regional Manager for Revolve Magazine in India

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