It gives me great pleasure to wish WWF-Malaysia a Happy 50th Anniversary, an occasion which has aptly been themed ‘50 Years – Together for Nature’. These past fifty years have been filled with many challenges. There have also been momentous milestones, achieved by the organisation and Malaysia together.
Conservation is a crucially important element of Malaysia’s development. We are a nation with globally valuable natural endowments, including our ancient rainforests and our rich biodiversity. Malaysia has a grave responsibility to protect these effectively. We must rise to this challenge, for ourselves and for the global population.
Malaysia’s strong commitment to conservation can be seen in a number of areas. These include the National Forestry Policy, which mandates that 50% of our country should remain under forest cover. We have the National Biodiversity Policy, which commits us to allocate 20% of our land as protected areas. And we have also committed ourselves to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. It is imperative, however, that all these promises and plans are in fact fully implemented in practice.
WWF-Malaysia plays a key role in this area. For the past 50 years, the organisation has helped Malaysia to rise to the environmental challenges we face. It is a strong voice for nature in Malaysia, speaking out both for its protection, and for the restoration of areas that have been lost. WWF Malaysia has provided advice and information on conservation matters to the government and has advocated tirelessly for the conservation of biodiversity. These inputs have contributed to the establishment of Protected Areas, from the large forest complexes within the Central Forest Spine, including the Belum forest complex in Perak, to the large marine protected areas in Sabah.
Together with its staff, its supporters, and the environmental community more broadly, WWF has helped to protect more than 1.3 million hectares of forests and seas from the threat of conversion. These natural habitats are not only vital for our continued survival but are also home to endangered wildlife. In protecting these ecosystems, we are saving from extinction the Malayan tiger, the Bornean orang-utan and elephant, and sea turtles.
The impacts of human activities on our wildlife, climate, rivers, forests and oceans are profound, as are the consequences for humanity. Restoring our planet’s health requires all of our efforts, from the government to the private sector, to the public as well. I would like to call on all Malaysians to continue to collaborate to protect nature and mitigate the damaging effects of climate change. This is vital not only for our continued prosperity but also for our very survival.
The recent floods have demonstrated clearly, yet again, how real the dangers posed by climate change have become. While responding generously to those affected, we must also be bold in our renewed efforts to address the underlying causes. Organisations such as WWF Malaysia will continue to be at the forefront of these efforts, for the next 50 years, and beyond, as we confront the challenges that await us.
Once again, I would like to wish a happy 50th anniversary to WWF-Malaysia.