KUALA LUMPUR: A week after establishing a physical presence in Malaysia, global environmental group Greenpeace reiterated its belief in Malaysia as a key player in the fight against climate change.
“Malaysia is a battleground we can’t afford to lose,” said Greenpeace Southeast Asia executive director Nadarev Sano.
Sano said now – 46 years after its inception – was the perfect time for Greenpeace to set foot in Malaysia, adding that the country had always been a strong advocate of green energy in the fight against climate change.
“Malaysia has been a strong advocate since the 70s and a signatory to several international environmental treaties.
“One of the reasons is because Malaysia houses more than 20 local environmental organisations,” Sano told FMT.
He added that Greenpeace is looking forward to working with these organisations in the future.
The office is located in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, and serves as a base for 10 Malaysian employees. It also complements the NGO’s other centres in the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia.
Sano said Malaysia was an important location to campaign against severe environmental issues in the region such as climate change, deforestation, energy matters and systematic problems related to consumerism and corruption.
On Malaysia’s deforestation issue, he said over the course of 10 years, from 1990 to 2010, the country had lost close to two million hectares of forest.
“With an increased demand for paper and palm oil, it is likely that more forests will be affected in the country,” he added.
He said Greenpeace is looking forward to working with the government in the hope that it will strengthen the country’s environmental policy.
“Here at Greenpeace, we hope that the Malaysian government will further enforce existing rules and regulations and also enact a waste management policy.
“We also urge the establishment of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policy, under which producers have to bear a significant responsibility, whether financial or physical,” he said.
With such a policy, Sano claimed producers would be accountable for the treatment or disposal of their post-consumer products.
He said Greenpeace was also planning to work with several other institutions, especially educational institutions.
“By raising awareness and educating the public, we have been able to help nurture many ‘local heroes’ or environmentalists all across the globe.
“We encourage the public to be part of our fight and be home-grown heroes,” he said.
According to its website, Greenpeace has been working in Malaysia on volunteer-led projects focused on ending haze caused by burning peatlands in the region, and ensuring zero deforestation.
The website said Greenpeace has also been involved with local networks, working with like-minded NGOs in the country.
The NGO, which actively gains support through environmental petitions, has reportedly garnered over 2.8 million supporters worldwide.
In the past, it was vocal in criticising Malaysia over its extensive deforestation and ecologically unfriendly oil palm plantations.
Last September, activists blocked the transportation and unloading operations of Malaysian palm oil company, IOI Group, at Rotterdam Port, accusing it of forest destruction and child labour.