Johor launches ‘Green Deal’ framework to drive the state’s sustainable development

By Si Ying Thian

The Johor Green Deal will serve as the primary reference for the Malaysian state’s green development agenda, and will be supported by the newly-established Johor Sustainable Centre (JSC), said Johor’s chief minister at the Asia-Pacific Climate Week (APCW) 2023.

Johor Sustainability Centre (JSC) will play a pivotal role in spearheading green collaborations under the Johor Green Deal. Image: APCW. 

The Johor government announced the launch of Johor Green Deal and the establishment of the Johor Sustainability Centre (JSC) at the opening plenary session of the Asia-Pacific Climate Week (APCW), which took place  in Johor on 13 November 2023.


The Johor Green Deal framework will encompass five priority areas, namely energy; transport and mobility; land use, nature and water; low-carbon cities; and industry. 

Malaysian government officials and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) leaders at the APCW. Image: APCW.

It will serve as a “primary reference and policy for the green development agenda,” said Johor’s chief minister, Onn Hafiz Ghazi, at the launch ceremony.


APCW is one of four regional climate weeks organised by the United Nations (UN) Climate Change, and is hosted by the Malaysian government this year. 


The regional climate week events are part of the lead-up to the upcoming COP 28 conference in Dubai and the conclusion of the first global stocktake to assess the collective progress of countries in meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. 

Johor Sustainability Centre to spearhead green collaborations


Set up under the Johor state government-linked company, Permodalan Darul Ta'zim, JSC will play a research and advisory role to the Johor government, and will help spearhead collaborations with academia and the private sector around green initiatives.


“Firstly, JSC will engage with local and international experts to subsequently advise the [Johor] government on what actions and projects to pursue. 


“Secondly, it will act as a facilitator on project agreements, such as solar or related projects, so that we can move on in terms of renewables space,” said Lee Ting Han, Chairman of the Investment, Trade and Consumer Affairs for the Johor Government, responding to GovInsider’s inquiry at the summit’s press conference.


For a start, JSC will work with the Johor government to pioneer climate adaptation and mitigation strategies, and help the private sector “make informed decisions around sustainable investments,” according to the promotional video shown at the launch ceremony.

Johor Green Deal will drive partnerships 


The summit saw a total of 12 agreements signed between governments, and between the Malaysian government and private sector.


These partnerships range from capacity building, accreditation, commercial projects around green energy and technology adoption, sustainable financing, and more. 


For instance, Kyoto City, Japan, and Johor state have partnered to leverage on the former’s capacity building and networks to help Johor become a low-carbon society. Other parties involved in the agreement include the Japan International Cooperation (JICA) and the Kyoto Environmental Activities Association (KEAA) Japan.


GovInsider spoke with Johor Corporation (JCorp), the Johor state's principle development institution, to find out how the Johor Green Deal will affect their sustainability investments moving forward. 

Being a corporate allows for flexibility in moving faster when it comes to sustainability initiatives. At the same time, we're keeping in view of the country's needs and regional developments, says Zaidatul Rahman, JCorp's Head of Sustainability. Image: JCorp.

“All industries and major corporations are doing their own thing. This pulls everyone together, so there’s greater impact when it’s full-on collaboration. 


“With JSC, we get to move ahead faster, especially with the research and the collaboration to pull things together to become a bigger engine [for sustainability],” Zaidatul Rahman, Head of Sustainability, JCorp, told GovInsider at the summit.


JCorp is also one of the advisors to JSC. However, details of its involvement are still premature currently. 


While JCorp has multiple verticals pursuing different initiatives, the whole-of-corporation’s sustainability goal is aligned with the national aspiration of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, Rahman said. 


“Being a corporate gives us the flexibility of moving faster… We chart our own paths but along the way, we will also align ourselves with the needs of Malaysia and what’s happening in the region.”

Malaysia’s priority towards a ‘just transition’


A key message highlighted in the conversations around Malaysia’s pursuit of sustainability initiatives is an emphasis on a “just transition," not leaving anyone behind on the path to sustainability. 


Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, Malaysia's Federal Minister for Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change, highlighted the key challenges in energy transition for developing countries in Southeast Asia at the high-level ministerial panel on just energy transition in the Asia-Pacific region.


These include the lack of access to reliable electricity in rural Malaysia as well as affordability concerns.


For instance, Malaysia plans to phase out its diesel subsidies to incentivise the adoption of renewable energy. However, it will take a gradual approach to better protect low-income households from the price increase, reported The Edge Malaysia previously.


Lee Ting Han, Chairman of the Investment, Trade and Consumer Affairs for the Johor Government, highlighted in the press conference that the Malaysian government is also actively working with electric vehicles (EV) companies on the pricing aspect to drive this transition.


On the role of governments in climate change, Donald Cooper, Director, Transparency at UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said:


“Climate issues are going to become the driving factor in virtually every country’s governance and their socio-economic plans moving forward. It will increasingly become so over the next five years, so dominant that it will come up in everything because a country is seeking to exist. 


“Whether that's protecting against increased rainfall, or worrying about your coastline vanishing, or your ground disappearing due to sea levels, or tourism dying off. It’s going to impact everyone.”