Group activity with the residents of Taman Bagan Lalang. Source: PGC website.

In its bid to support the state’s vision of Penang as a green and smart state, Penang Green Council introduced a new community engagement programme named the Sustainable Neighbourhood Development Programme (SNDP). The programme aims to develop a sustainable neighbourhood framework that is community-driven and focuses on long term behavioural change, particularly in waste management.

The first SNDP workshops were conducted in collaboration with the SEA circular project, an initiative from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA) and the Ministry of Environment and Water (KASA) to implement a regional project, titled “Reducing Marine Litter by Addressing the Management of the Plastic Value Chain In Southeast Asia”. This initiative is also supported by the Swedish government through the International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

The communities of Taman Bagan Lalang and Kampung Permatang Nibong were chosen as pioneer studies due to their active participation and involvement in zero waste practices. These communities work with the Environment Resource Centre to collect recyclables house-to-house every third Sunday of the month. Other activities that have been implemented by the local communities, with support from MBSP, include food waste collection and composting as well as organic farming. Taman Bagan Lalang, for example, practices zero waste during major celebrations or festivals, while Kampung Permatang Nibong is known for its residents’ upcycling efforts.  

The first 3-hour physical workshop which included input sharing from PGC facilitators and group discussions among the participants was held on 14 March 2021 at both locations simultaneously. Participants were first introduced to the concept of sustainable neighbourhood, and were then guided to identify problems faced within the community in their green efforts. Upon determining the root causes of the highlighted problems, participants were then asked to brainstorm for feasible strategies based on the strengths of their community.

Taman Bagan Lalang and Kampung Permatang Nibong are case studies from which a sustainable neighbourhood framework will be designed to guide local communities in establishing their own sustainable neighbourhoods. Upon identification of the current challenges faced by both communities, PGC will assist in linking up the relevant government departments with the community leaders for a solution plan. This sustainable neighbourhood framework will be replicable to other communities in Penang.

The creation of sustainable neighbourhoods backed by the local communities is a good way to not only build communities’ capacity to plan and act in accordance with their own localised issues, needs and potential, but also empower them to take ownership to improve their living environment.

*This is an edited article originally retrieved from press statements released by Penang Green Council