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2023 Policy Brief

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Executive Summary

The Malaysian CSO-SDG Alliance (“Alliance”) held the Malaysia CSO SDG Forum on 21 and 22 August 2023 in collaboration with the United Nations Country Team, All-Party Parliamentary Group Malaysia on Sustainable Development Goals (“APPGM-SDG”), Malaysian Youth Delegation and KSI Strategic Institute. The aim of this forum was to bring together civil society organisations (“CSOs”) from the Alliance to discuss the key issues and recommendations in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”) in Malaysia. The discussions were structured around seven thematic areas, namely education and training, environment and sustainability, health, gender, governance, indigenous peoples as well as poverty and wellbeing. Post-forum discussions were conducted to further refine the valuable insights and diverse perspectives. These have been synthesised into this Policy Brief.

2023 Co-Chairs and Policy Brief Editors

  • Lavanya Rama Iyer

  • Kiu Jia Yaw

2023 Working Group Leads

  • Afandi Ahmad
    Environment & Sustainability Thematic Group

  • Bina Ramanand
    Gender Thematic Group

  • Dato' Indrani Thuraisingam
    Poverty & Social Wellbeing Thematic Group

  • Dr. Murali Munisamy
    Health Thematic Group

  • Gill Raja
    Sarawak Alliance Lead

  • Jeffrey FK Phang
    Governance Thematic Group

  • Johnek Henry
    Sarawak Alliance Lead

  • Joyline Chai
    Fundraising Working Group

  • Kon Onn Sein
    Indigenous Peoples Thematic Group

  • Omna Sreeni-Ong
    Advocacy Working Group

  • Ruth Yap
    Sabah Alliance Lead

  • Sheela Damian
    Sabah Alliance Lead

  • Thai Ming Yeow
    Education & Training Thematic Group

2023 Coordinator Executives

  • Hemavathi Sivanesan

  • Mellaney Goh

Policy Brief Writers

  • Dr. Rachel Samuel

  • Kieran Li Nair

Policy Brief Illustrator

  • Alicia Dixon

  • Chu Shu Yi

Malaysia CSO SDG Forum Partners

  • All-Party Parliamentary Group Malaysia on Sustainable Development Goals (APPGM-SDG)

  • KSI Strategic Institute

  • Malaysian Youth Delegation

  • Society for the Promotion of the SDGs

  • United Nations Country Team

Malaysia CSO SDG Forum Manager

  • Joyline Chai

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The thematic discussions and analyses have revealed six cross-cutting root causes to the myriad of issues discussed. These are related to governance, marginalised communities, data availability and accessibility, the existing economic model, human rights and legislative issues as well as education. Recommendations to address them are as follows. There are four broad cross-cutting recommendations and a further five thematic focused ones with cross-cutting implications too. These recommendations align with the Madani Vision, 12th Malaysia Plan, and the UN’s Our Common Agenda 2022 and SDG Rescue Plan 2023.

  1. Transforming Governance by increasing public participation, government accountability and addressing corruption. This includes ensuring accessibility for marginalised communities at voting stations, providing lay person summaries of technical documents when soliciting public feedback, open data initiatives, community-based natural resources and public goods management, including co-management between local communities and government, participatory budgeting at local council level, asset declaration requirements for those holding office, empowering the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and improving whistleblower protection. Local Council Elections and also empower action at local level.

  2. Moving Towards a Holistic Model of Development with a Beyond GDP framework that accounts for Natural and Social Capital, distributes wealth equitably and secures access to resources and public goods for all. This can build on DOSM’s ongoing initiatives in developing alternative indicators. Strategic Environmental Assessments and Health Impact Assessments are important tools to guide such holistic development.

  3. Enhancing Human Rights through Legislative Means through the enactment of a Freedom of Information Act, Constitutional Amendment to expressly recognise the right to a clean, safe, and healthy environment, resolving the conflict in the Federal Constitution on equality and indigenous rights, and enacting anti-discriminatory provisions in line with obligations under international conventions like CEDAW, UNDRIP, Convention on the Rights of the Child and Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

  4. Improving Education and Training by working with CSOs and grass roots communities in better catering for the needs of marginalised children like the disabled and undocumented, embracing reforms to encourage academic and theoretical diversity to enhance intellectual freedom,  emphasising on life (i.e. holistic knowledge) and not merely livelihood (i.e. materialistic knowledge), including rights literacy. TVET programmes should be rebranded, aligned to industry needs, and diversified to incorporate emerging technologies and sustainable development.

  5. Protecting the Environment and Promoting Sustainability through cost benefit analysis with strategic Environmental Impact Assessments, enhanced environmental data transparency and accessibility to enable science and evidence based action by citizens, sustainable financing for conservation and environmental needs with Environmental Fiscal Transfers, pollution pricing, market based instruments and private sector financing which supports community based natural resource management and safeguards the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, enabling state and local governments to formulate green policies and plans and expedite the implementation of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights.

  6. Gender Mainstreaming with intersectional data monitoring and evaluation frameworks for all Ministries and KPIs for positive gender action plans, address gender stereotyping and eliminate gender inferiority/superiority ideologies through education and media messaging.

  7. Promoting Health by undertaking Health Impact Assessments to identify potential health impacts of proposed projects, policies, or programmes, recognising the interconnectedness between human health and the environment, increasing budget for disease prevention and primary care, designing healthcare facilities that are culturally appropriate particularly for indigenous communities, improving health literacy and combined investment in social programmes that can address the social determinants of health (e.g., poverty, education, housing, gender) to improve overall population health and reduce health inequalities.

  8. Safeguarding Indigenous Peoples Rights by capacity building and training people and bodies assigned to interact with indigenous communities, implement the SUHAKAM 2016 recommendation of a comprehensive review of JAKOA, adopting key measurable targets (e.g., SDG 1.4.2 on security of land tenure), setting up a special tribunal or strengthening the Native Courts to settle land  disputes, FPIC implementation as agreed upon by indigenous peoples’ organisations and representatives, integration of indigenous data collection measures and supplementing this with technology like community digital mapping and geo-mapping apps, establishment of a National Commission on Indigenous Peoples as an independent body to protect indigenous rights, adopt a human rights based approach to development and instil corporate respect towards indigenous rights.

  9. Addressing Poverty and Wellbeing by recognising the multidimensional aspects of poverty by  making disaggregated data available to assess success of initiatives and reveal aggravating factors and hidden challenges that impede advancement particularly through coherent social protection system, strategies to improve social mobility and mitigating inequality such as mandating compulsory secondary education, preventing period poverty by providing sanitary products and introducing a multi-sectoral approach to address poverty to include health, education, shelter, and environment issues at community and household levels.

In conclusion, the Policy Brief highlights that only with collaborative efforts across all sectors and stakeholders can Malaysia continue to make substantive progress towards the Goals. In this context, the Government should continue its important role in facilitating avenues for collaboration in order to bridge the gaps in forming solutions that serve grassroots level issues.

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2023 Policy Brief Download

Other Resources

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Presentation Slides

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