Malaysia has made a big leap to 25th position from 2010’s 54th placing in the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranking conductedby Yale-Columbia universities covering 132 countries.
The country was ranked third among countries in the Asia-Pacific after New Zealand(14) and Japan (23) but ahead of Taiwan (29), Canada (37), South Korea (43), Australia (48) and the US (49).
Malaysia topped the list among Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) members, followed by Brunei Darussalem, (overall 26), Thailand (34), Phillipines (42), Singapore (52), Cambodia (59), Myanmar (69), Indonesia (74) and Vietnam (79).
The EPI aims to assess the countries’ Environmental Health and its Ecosystem Vitality, with three policy categories under the former and seven under the latter.
Malaysia scored very well in the Environmental Health category with a score of 85.3, after obtaining a very strong rating of 97.3 for the sub-category on Air and its Effects on Human Health.
The country’s big jump in ranking this year is largely attributed to the introduction of a more comprehensive Environmental Quality (Amendment) Act 2012 which was gazetted on 16 August and to be fully implemented by 2 January 2013.
Speaking after the launch of the national Environment Week in Kuala Lumpur, yesterday, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas said the ministry is committed to take action against activities which damage the environment.
The new act provides for anyone to report cases that adversely affect the environment such as open burning and toxic waste disposal. Whistleblowers will be given incentives for cases brought to the attention of the ministry as well as provide anonymity and protection.
The amendment to the Act has also enhanced the management of the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA). Overall, the amended Act allows for a more proactive enforcement mechanism so that development projects do not negatively impact the quality of the environment and the health of the people.
Adapted from New Straits Times and the EPI Yale education website