Roundtable on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Making Climate-Resilient Development a Policy Priority in Malaysia

The roundtable on “Making Climate-Resilient Development a Policy Priority in Malaysia” intents to contribute to addressing environmental challenges by providing recommendations towards a new climate change policy or act in Malaysia. Cognisant of the fact that a revised climate change policy is currently in discussion, the roundtable aims to contribute to its preparation by providing recommendations that address adaptation in a wider and holistic context and linked to development.


In the context of Malaysia, the National Climate Change Policy was formulated in 2010 with the aim to ensure climate-resilient development. Institutionally, the National Climate Change Council was also established with membership from both the government and corporate sectors. However, the policy has not translated into implementation as its design was incremental in nature. Firstly, it lacks instruments (legal, technical, etc) to be enforced. Mitigation and Adaptation action plans, for example, were not formulated to support its implementation. Secondly, to address the uncertain and complex nature of climate change discussed above, it does not provide a clear roadmap in how to deal with an uncertain future. Thirdly, it has not successfully elevated the issue as a policy priority, in comparison with other socioeconomic issues in Malaysia’s development landscape.


Sectorally, both disaster risk management and coastal protection are the target focus of Malaysia’s adaptation efforts for addressing climate change (UNEP, 2018i). While floods occur annually, in recent times, rainfall intensity has increased, leading to more severe monsoonal floods and flash floods in urban areas. In 2014, damage from floods in the east coast led to damage to public infrastructure amounting to RM 2.9 billion, affecting more than 200,000 people. This has led to efforts to strengthen disaster risk management in the 11th Malaysia Plan and beyond with over RM9.3 billion committed to flood mitigation programmes.


Malaysia’s need for adaptation also manifests itself as risks for water and food security. For instance, the increased variability in rainfall patterns has affected the reservoir storage and dam security. Increased rainfall patterns in some parts resulted in dam water levels to increase above critical levels, requiring the release of huge volumes of water and causing flooding further downstream. On the other hand, increased dry spells, for example at Muda Dam and Pedu Dam has resulted in water shortages. Projections demonstrated significant reductions in average rice yield productions including in the Muda Agricultural Development Authority Area (MADA) Granary which produces 40% of the national rice production, which will in turn affect food security.


Beyond those identified, climate change affects issues of health, coastal erosion due to sea level rises and interactions in various ways with biodiversity and forests. To shift from the often costly reactive adaptation approaches through mitigating floods and disasters, to a more proactive adaptation approach, increased understanding and linking of the impacts, vulnerability and adaptive capacity at the local levels is required. Otherwise, the impacts of climate change will exacerbate the (existing) challenges to achieve sustainable development.




  • A climate crisis in Malaysia? Climate change projection and its impacts
  • Towards a new climate change policy - linking climate change adaptation to development policy and implementation
  • Social responsibility for climate action - towards an enabling environment for proactive solutions
  • Realising climate-resilient development
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Kuala Lumpur


  • Dr. Nagulendran Kangayatkarasu
    • Deputy Secretary-General (Environment and Climate Change)
      • Ministry of Energy
        • Science
          • Technology and Climate Change (MESTECC)
            • Malaysia

              Wolfgang Hruschka †