Greening The Grassroots in Petaling Jaya

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Petaling Jaya

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Main actors

City Government, Private Sector, NGO / Philanthropy, Community / Citizen Group, Public Utility

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Project area

Whole City/Administrative Region

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Ongoing since 2010/01

Based on business and community participation, the Greening The Grassroots programme will assist with the transformation of Petaling Jaya into a low carbon city by 2020 with government support.

The Malaysian government has committed to reducing carbon emissions to 40% GDP by 2020. To achieve this target, grass roots participation at community level has been identified as a critical factor. Subsequently, Petaling Jaya City Council has partnered with the Federal government and has implemented a pilot project, Greening The Grassroots, using the Low Carbon Cities Framework and Assessment System. Moreover, Council has provided funding and is fully engaged with the corporate sector, NGO's and the community in planning, implementation and monitoring of the initiative.

The purpose of the Greening The Grassroots programme is to help Petaling Jaya transition into a sustainable city. It has already initiated a change in building codes and policy, so that all buildings with roofing of 100 square metres or more must have a rain water harvest system. Additionally, it has introduced a range of sustainable measures and participatory programmes for business and community.

Sustainable Development Goals

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Guangzhou Award

This project was shortlisted for the 'Guangzhou Award' in 2014 in the following category: Deserving initiative.

Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

Size and population development
The administrative area of Petaling Jaya is 97.2 square kilometres. Petaling Jaya has a total population of over 619,925 people which is rapidly growing. Petaling Jaya is now known as the leading growth centre in Selangor.

Population composition
Petaling Jaya population is comprised of 30% Chinese, 40% Malays, and 30% Indians

Main functions
Petaling Jaya is a major Malaysian city originally developed as a satellite township for Kuala Lumpur.

Main industries / business
Business and retail commerce

Sources for city budget
Malaysian Government, property taxes

Administrative structure
The Administrative Council consists of 25 Council members led by a mayor. Council members are appointed by the Selangor State Executive Council. The Mayor is an officer of the Federal Government appointed by the state administration after obtaining the consent of the Menteri Besar.

Petaling Jaya is a major Malaysian city, originally developed as a satellite township for Kuala Lumpur, and occupies an area of approximately 97.2 square kilometres. In 1996 Petaling Jaya City Council began addressing sustainable development using Agenda 21 as a framework. Agenda 21 is a non-binding, voluntarily implemented, sustainable development action plan of the United Nations, formalized at the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992.  

In 2010 Petaling Jaya City Council appointed a task force for a low carbon green city in accordance with the implementation of the Low Carbon Cities Framework (LCCF), produced by the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water, and the Malaysian Institute of Planners. Since then, no less than 13,000 initiatives have engaged and involved local communities but they have met with mixed results. While participation in social programmes has been extremely successful, without a comprehensive range of economic incentives supported by government legislation, the majority of residents remained non-committal regarding long-term greening projects if extra time, cost and effort is required.

The Greening The Grassroots programme was established to provide a forum for government, business and community to work together in a practical way to achieve the goal of making Petaling Jaya a low carbon city by 2020.

Petaling Jaya City Council is the lead agency for the Greening The Grassroots project. It provides funding and manages business and community relationships. Extensive community consultation is on-going since 1996 through capacity building, education and public awareness programmes. Partnerships with business, NGO's and national government agencies who provide resources and other in-kind support play a pivotal role in advancing these programmes.

The program uses a carbon calculator developed by Malaysia Green Tech Corporation for the calculation of CO2 emissions. Measurements of other outcomes are at the infant stage with evaluations collected manually or through public feedback and perception gathering facilitated by The Green Organisation (United Kingdom). Moreover, a matrix for evaluating rebates on property tax assessments for house owners has been established. The matrix provides points for energy, water, waste management and other greening aspects based on affordability, efficiency and effectiveness. Households achieving three or more of the areas identified qualify for the tax rebate.

As lead agency Petaling Jaya City Council provides the majority of funding for Greening The Grassroots.

Other major stakeholders are:
  • Malaysia Green Tech Corporation
  • Malaysia Institute of Planners
  • Centre of Environment, Technology and Development Malaysia 
  • Business sector
  • Residents Associations
The impetus behind Greening The Grassroots was to bring about change, both practical and behavioural to ensure a sustainable future for Petaling Jaya. However the benefits have gone beyond the city limits and influenced change at a national level:
  • The amendment of uniform building by-laws (1984) to require installation of rain water harvesting systems in all buildings with roofing of 100 square metres and above.
  • The rebate scheme of property assessment tax was used as a case study and data will be utilized for drafting the National Sustainable Consumption and Production blue print by the government.                  
Other significant side efforts supported by private enterprise as a result of their involvement with Greening The Grassroots project include:
  • The establishment of the first electric vehicle charging station
  • Construction of 11 kilometres of cycling lanes
The two most significant challenges to the implementation and success of the project have been:

  • Obtaining the mandatory requirements to facilitate a change of policy in the building code legislation.
  • Initially engaging business and community without economic incentives from Petaling Jaya City Councilor government agencies.

The Greening The Grassroots project demonstrates how progress can be achieved in reaching sustainable goals when governments provide economic incentives, education and training programmes across the community and to the business sector.

The involvement and participation of stakeholders from all sectors, together with a scheme that rewards good practices, regardless of scale, provides incentives for people to engage.

Since the programme commenced, a further five city councils have undertaken similar projects to Greening The Grassroots.

Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, Greening The Grassroots: a journey for a sustainable Petaling Jaya, Guangzhou Award, 2014, (10th october 2016)

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