Submission to Malaysia’s 2nd Voluntary National Review on the Sustainable Development Goals 2021 by Malaysian CSO-SDG Alliance – APPGM SDG

Published on 20 May 2021


This report is a summary document of submissions made by the APPGM SDG Secretariat and the Malaysian CSO SDG Alliance who is the secretariat to the All-Party Parliamentary Group Malaysia on Sustainable Development Goals (APPGM-SDG) to the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) as the CSO input to the preparation of the 2021 Voluntary National Review Report by Malaysia to the High-Level Political Forum on SDGs (HLPF) in July 2021 at the United Nations.

In September 2015 the UN passed the 2030 agenda with 17 universal goals and all the nations of the world including Malaysia agreed to the implementation of these. The countries also agreed that once in four years each country with present a Voluntary National Review (VNR) detailing the implementation at the national level providing a status report of the progress as well as the challenges faced. In addition, each country agreed to release data based on specific indicators agreed upon so that there could be a global benchmarking on economic, social, and environmental concerns including human rights, good governance, and partnerships.

Malaysia presented its first VNR report in 2017 and there was an opportunity for CSO inputs which was coordinated by the Malaysian CSO SDG Alliance. Then in 2017, we did not have an opportunity to review the draft VNR reports although we provided inputs. In the 2021 VNR preparation, the Malaysian CSO SDG Alliance and the APPGM SDG secretariat has been invited to be part of both the VNR Technical Committee and the VNR Steering Committee which we participated actively. We have had the opportunity to review the draft reports and provide input to this time around. This is a very positive opportunity for us and we thank the Malaysian government for this partnership in this VNR process.

Each year the UN adopts a theme for the HLPF and selects some of the 17 SDGs. For 2021 the theme will be “Sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that promotes the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development: building an inclusive and effective path for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda in the context of the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development”.

The HLPF in 2021 will discuss nine of the SDGs namely Goals 1 on no poverty; Goal 2 on zero hunger; Goal 3 on good health and well-being; Goal 8 on decent work and economic growth; Goal 10 on reduced inequalities; Goal 12 on responsible consumption and production; Goal 13 on climate action; Goal 16 on peace, justice, and strong institutions and Goal 17 on partnerships in depth. Therefore the Malaysia VNR report will provide key focus on these nine SDGs.

Therefore we established five working groups on Poverty & Nutrition (WG1 on SDG 1 & 2; COVID 19 & Health Recovery (WG2 on SDG 3); Inclusive economic growth (WG 3 on SDG 8, 10; Sustainability & Climate change (WG 4 SDG 12, 13) and Governance, social cohesion & partnership (WG 5 SDG 16, 17). (See Appendix 1).

The five working groups produced reports which came to about 154 pages in total. This can be regarded as a major contribution. It is the collective work of 62 people who participated in the working groups.

This summary report is written by Mr Ahmad Afandi, (a research officer with the APPGM SDG) based on the findings of the five working group reports which was submitted to EPU. He was asked to draw out the major themes pertaining to progress and achievements; gaps and challenges and finally the recommendations.


Key Recommendations

This report contains 80 recommendations made by the five working groups. This is a serious piece of input from the CSOs. Of the 80 recommendations let me highlight ten key one by way of highlighting the direction the Government must take in the next phase of SDG implement in the Twelfth Malaysia Plan (2021- 2025).

From the 80 recommendations, there are ten key recommendations:

1. Revamping the Social Welfare System
The social welfare system has to be revamped due to the limited definitions and coverage used in the official statistical system. The social welfare database is incomplete and the system of registration is not accessible and friendly to the really destitute. Need to establish a social protection floor with universal access and basic protection for all, including for the self-employed and informal workers

2. A long-term food security strategy
Malaysia is in need of a long-term food security strategy that includes funding for research and development in related sectors which would eventually increase Malaysia’s self-sufficiency while reducing the country’s reliance on imports.

3. Reforming the health system
There is a need for health system reform especially in terms of health financing. The tax-financing model for national healthcare needs to be supplemented and strengthened, perhaps by a social health insurance model, or most even a hybrid model with more allotment of resources into the healthcare budget must take place. A relatively low-cost compulsory National Health Insurance should be introduced such as those successfully implemented in developed countries such as the United Kingdom’s NHS.

4. Localizing the economy
Policies for localizing the economy to reduce marginalization that consists of improving infrastructure for rural communities, partnering with indigenous communities for forest management, and investing in rural green economies.

In this context, the regional corridor development authorities must step up their effort to attract new industries and promote local enterprises to create jobs for the poor and marginalised. Together with other state-level authorities, they should undertake initiatives to localise the implementation of the SDGs. Creating more jobs in rural areas by setting up more industries and businesses that need unskilled labour is a better option. The model of One Village One Product could re-introduced.

5. Sustainable economic model
There is a need to build an economic model that is more progressive and systemic and which integrates economic, social, and environmental factors. These models will create shared economics which are in harmony with the environment and nature.

6. More gender and ethnic disaggregated data of employment
A publicly available gender and ethnically disaggregated data is urgently required to quantify gender disproportion in employment, analyse minority’s contribution to the economy and to better understand discriminations in employment face by women, disabled persons, LGBT persons and foreign workers. The data will also enable better understanding of how COVID-19 affects women since 98% of Malaysian economic backbone is supported by SMEs that mostly made up of women.

7. Moving towards a circular economy model
Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act 2007 (Act 672) to be adopted by and implemented in every state in Malaysia. Political will is required to work at national level.

8. Sustainable natural resources management
Ensure sustainable utilization of natural resources as raw materials including revising the delineation of Forest Management Units (FMUs) in Malaysia to enable better management, sustain productivity and ensure long-term viability. In addition, formulate an overarching forestry policy for the country to achieve a nationally integrated standard of development and management of Malaysia’s forests.

9. Moving Towards Carbon Neutrality
Malaysia should set a target of peak-emission, establishing roadmap for absolute decarbonisation and net-zero emissions by 2050. While rich developed countries should take the lead in deep decarbonising and setting “net-zero” climate target earlier, echoing the equality principle of the Paris Agreement, Malaysia can work towards same agenda internally.

10. Strengthen partnerships for localising SDGs
In order to strengthen partnerships for SDGs, there is a need to enhance policies & institutional coherence by deepening dialogue, network building & partnerships, data-based decision-making & monitoring system. There is a need to conduct capacity building for various stakeholders including FBOs, NGOs, CSOs towards Localising SDG 2030

The full document can be downloaded here. 


20 May 2021