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Blog – 2023

Monthly Wrap-Up: April 2023

26 April 2023: Unfortunately, it’s a wrap-up of court cases and petitions this month. We look at how the Semai from Pos Lanai and the Temiar of Kampung Cunex are bringing governments to court, and how Sarawak NGO Save Rivers are fighting a lawsuit by timber company Samling over indigenous rights claims.

Then we talk about food waste, the amount of which is collected by the Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Corporation (SWCorp) during Ramadan is increasing every year. 

Ending on a bright note: Sabah artist Yee I-Larn and collaborators will bring their exhibition of tikar (weaving) art to Kuala Lumpur in May and June. Find them at Borneo Heart.

Our Thoughts on Earth Day 2023

25 April 2023: We were happy to be featured by media engagement platform Telum Media in an Earth Day interview. Check it out.

Law Yao Hua wins Sigma Award for Data Journalism

2 April 2023: We have won a Sigma Award for data journalism!

Our entry of three stories was revealed as one of 11 winners. The stories were written by Yao-Hua Law and edited by Siew Lyn Wong, and supported by a Rainforest Investigations Network fellowship from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for Yao Hua.

The Sigma Awards “is a competition to celebrate the best data journalism from around the world”. This year, the jury and prize committee of > 40 data journalism practitioners evaluated 638 entries from 80 countries  the most entries received in the award’s 4 year history.

Six entries from Asia were shortlisted, and Macaranga‘s was the only Asian entry among the 11 winners (the 10th and 11 winners are joint-winners). Ours is also the first Malaysian entry to win.

The prize committee highlighted Macaranga‘s achievements in elevating data journalism in Malaysia, particularly in addressing environmental issues “in a country which has many needs in this area.” The committee also appreciated that we published forestry data, called out environmental crimes and stopped them.

Of course, we are stunned by this win. We are honoured by this recognition from our global colleagues, and very much humbled by their craft and tenacity.

Monthly Wrap-Up: March 2023

27 March 2023: Sarawak announces the establishment of a Climate Change Centre in its bid to become a regional leader in carbon trading initiatives. Already, at least five countries had expressed interest in working with Sarawak for carbon trading and storage.

And in Parliament, the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Climate Change revealed that it may authorise the Department of Environment to appoint consultants to conduct environmental impact assessments. Currently, consultants are selected and hired by project developers. What might go wrong?

Monthly Wrap-Up: February 2023

28 February 2023: Last month, the government proposed amending the Water Services Industry Act (655) , to increase the water pollution fine to RM10 million from RM100,000, and the jail sentence to 15 years from one year. Are these much higher fines the answer?

Meanwhile, Penang’s nature-based climate adaptation programme aims to be a model for the country, addressing urban greening, stormwater management, social resilience and institutional capacity.

Partnerships are the theme of World Wildlife Day on March 3, and health, that of the International Day of Forests on March 21.

Climate reporting needs improving

28 February 2023: There are challenges aplenty but also solutions when it comes to reporting on the climate and energy transition in Malaysia, according to a recent research report.

‘Climate and energy transition reporting in Peninsular Malaysia’s mainstream news media’ by Klima Action Malaysia (KAMY) was launched on Saturday, and Siew Lyn moderated the related media panel discussion.

Insights by Macaranga also appear in the report.

The dicussion looked at how to address the report findings that stories were scarce, and most were single-source, hard news reportage.

Challenges identified include lack of time, reporters and editors with specialist knowledge, inadequate institutional support for climate issues, and the difficulty in accessing government data.

Solutions already in practice include collaborations among different media, op-eds by experts, and doing follow-up stories with more depth. The ideal situation would be to have climate/environmental reporters or desks.

KAMY also launched their resource hub for climate reporting, while another resource for journalists is the Science Media Centre.

Stories need to engage with technical issues and connect them with intersectional and wider human angles say discussants Sumei Toh, Nadiah Rosli, Aidila Razak and SL Wong (photo by KAMY)
Stories need to engage with technical issues and connect them with intersectional and wider human angles say discussants Sumei Toh, Nadiah Rosli, Aidila Razak and SL Wong (photo by KAMY)

Monthly Wrap-Up: January 2023

31 January 2023: The inclusion of the role of the federal government in town and country planning would promote coordination and ensure “development takes place in a well-balanced manner and accords with the sharing of responsibilities and the principle that public interest precedes private interest in the use and development of land.”

Last month, a landmark Federal Court judgement in favour of the environment was delivered in the decade-long Sungai Ara, Penang hillslope development case. We discuss what the judgement says and keep our fingers crossed for its implications.

We also talk about the hot topic of carbon trading. We looked at the investigation by The Guardian, Die Zeit, and SourceMaterial which says that more than 90% of the rainforest carbon credits issued through carbon credit scheme Verra have overclaimed their benefits for slowing down climate change.

With Malaysia having just launched our Voluntary Carbon Market using the Verra standard, there needs to be more cooperation and scrutiny to improve carbon credit schemes.

And we look ahead to Budget 2023 and the green goodies that were promised then as well as are being promised in the coalition government’s maifestos.

Macaranga Webinar: Carbon market 101

5 January 2023: A month ago, Bursa Malaysia launched the country’s first voluntary carbon market exchange. The exchange aims to attract companies to “to trade voluntary carbon credits from climate-friendly projects and solutions, with the aim to offset their emission footprint and meet climate goals.”

Right, but what does trading of carbon credits really mean for conservation, human rights, and climate action in the country? Those and more were discussed in a webinar we organised for Macaranga Supporters.

Carbon analyst Tan Win Sim explained the aims and basic mechanisms of a carbon market exchange (another speaker had to cancel due to a last minute emergency). During a rigorous 30-minute Q&A session, participants and Win Sim shared views on the dynamics between carbon credits and greenwashing, indigenous peoples, and reducing carbon emissions.

A group photo of the Macaranga Webinar on carbon markets, held 5 January 2023.

READ OUR BLOGS FROM 2022, and 2020–2021

A Malaysian Environmental Journalism Site