In recent years, sustainability has become a pressing global issue, with challenges arising from population growth and increasing consumption leading to resource depletion and excessive waste. While many countries are taking steps to address these challenges, developing nations like Malaysia still face gaps in awareness and action on sustainability.

Environmental pollution, exemplified by incidents like the Sungai Kim Kim toxic waste dumping in Pasir Gudang, Johor, has severe adverse effects on society. Illegal dumping of chemical substances has caused hospitalisations and school closures, highlighting the urgent need for action against illegal dumping activities. [1] Similarly, Penang has reported three cases of illegal waste dumping involving suspected construction materials and chemicals near housing sites. CCTV footage even captured suspects dumping chemicals into the Penang Channel. State councillor Phee Boon Poh has directed investigations, suspecting outsiders might be involved in these illegal activities. [2] This underscores the critical need for swift police action and increased community involvement to combat illegal dumping.

To address these pressing environmental issues on a global scale, the United Nations introduced the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. These goals, aiming for universal achievement by 2030, provide a collaborative framework to eradicate poverty, improve health and education, reduce inequality, promote economic growth, combat  climate change, including conserving our oceans and forests among others. Known as Agenda 2030 or SDG2030, these goals build upon the foundation laid by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), setting a clear path towards a sustainable and equitable future.

Having said that, public engagement plays a pivotal role in advancing the SDGs and tackling environmental issues. A research conducted in Kluang, Johore, at five primary schools revealed that one of the major challenges in implementing green management is the lack of awareness among students. [3]

Addressing this issue, the Sim Leisure Group introduced the Penang Escape Theme Park as a nature-based initiative focused on sustainable education. Since its inception in 2009, this initiative has engaged over 25,000 primary school students annually through various hands- on, do-it-yourself (DIY) activities. These types of activities would be beneficial for students as they are disconnected from nature due to their sedentary lifestyles and increased screen time. Recognising this disconnect, the programme aims to reach out to more than 150,000 students across Malaysia this year. This outreach will include students from lower socioeconomic, underprivileged, and disadvantaged backgrounds. As part of this expansion, a dedicated education centre will be established at each park, starting with Escape Penang, and will eventually be incorporated into all future Escape theme parks.

The Penang Escape Theme Park offers both in-classroom and outdoor learning experiences, allowing students to connect with nature and learn about sustainability. By engaging students in these initiatives, we can work together to achieve the SDGs and create a more sustainable future for all.


[1] Lai Chee Sern, Badaruddin.I., D’oria Islamiah,R., Mimi Mohaffyza,M., Nurul Hidayah, & Shahat, M.S (2022). L.A. Students’ attitude and perception towards sustainability: The case of Universiti Sains Malaysia. Sustainability, 14, 3925.

[2] _______. Illegal dumping of waste still a problem in Penang.

[3] Shah, M. F., Devi, V. (2019). Dozens rushed to hospital due to toxic fumes. The Star.