KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is hoping to get a third Unesco recognition for the area surrounding Mount Kinabalu.
This time, it hopes the Kinabalu Park will be nominated as a Unesco Global Geopark.
The designation, if attained, will make Sabah the second place in the world after Jeju Island in South Korea to boast of three Unesco awards.
Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Masidi Manjun said Kinabalu Park was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2000, the first in Malaysia and Sabah.
In 2014, Sabah’s Crocker Range Biosphere Reserve obtained the second Unesco accolade under the Unesco Man and the Biosphere Programme.
“Currently, my ministry, through Sabah Parks, is working towards the nomination of Kinabalu Park and its surrounding areas to be called ’Kinabalu Geopark’ under the UN body’s Global Geopark Programme.
“This will make it the third Unesco award for the state,” Masidi said during the 2017 Malaysia Unesco Day in Kundasang today.
Federal Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid, who is also president of the Malaysian National Commission for Unesco, launched the celebration.
Shahbaz Khan, director of Unesco’s Regional Science Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, was present during the ceremony.
According to Masidi, the Unesco World Heritage Site status had contributed to the local community’s socio-economic growth.
“Kinabalu Park, particularly after being declared a World Heritage Site, has been a catalyst to the socio-economic growth of local communities around it.
“Obviously, you can see that along the road to Kinabalu Park from Kota Kinabalu, there are many small-scale homestays mushrooming, handicraft stalls, cafes and other business activities.”
Despite the park’s tourism potential, Masidi said the government was making sure the industry was not developed at the expense of conservation.
“We are very concerned about the protection and conservation of the environment.
“The way forward is to implement conservation frameworks that allow sustainable development.
“This will provide a platform for poverty alleviation and enhancement of the people’s wellbeing,” he said.
Masidi promised that the state government, through the ministry and its departments and agencies such as Sabah Parks, would keep supporting and financing all necessary efforts towards this end.
Masidi said the federal and state governments had made big allocations for Kinabalu Park, where Mount Kinabalu is the main attraction.
He said under the 10th Malaysia Plan, the state and federal governments allocated RM27.2 million and under 11th Malaysia Plan RM17.4 million for ecotourism and conservation activities in all parks, especially Kinabalu Park.