Malaysia: It pays to be prepared
By Hariati Azizan
As [Cushman & Wakefield's] Prepped Cities Index reveals, Kuala Lumpur is the least affected by natural disasters among 16 other cities in the [Asia-Pacific]. Sydney is ranked the second least environmentally susceptible city in the [region], followed by Seoul in third.
The Index shows how prepared and safe we are at the city, building and operational level in key locations across the Asia-Pacific. In cities with high susceptibility to natural disasters, buildings need to meet relevant codes and standards. Kuala Lumpur scores highly due to the youthful age of buildings and high level of institutional ownership. Crucially, adds the report, the Malaysian government has focussed on developing its own Green Building Index with the provision of green tax exemptions and investment incentives.
Similarly, the average damage cost of natural disasters on Kuala Lumpur is comparatively small, says the Prepped Cities Index.
But in Malaysia’s case, while records show that occurrences of natural disaster have increased with the country’s rapid development over the last two decades, climate-related natural disasters cost Malaysia an average of only 0.13% of our GDP a year (nearly US$2bil or RM8bil in damage). Malaysia’s Energy, Science, Technology Environment and Climate Change Ministry has also just announced that it is working on a national climate change adaptation and mitigation plan.
However, susceptibility to natural disasters is only one component to consider, the Index notes. Size of population and population density can affect the scale and amount of damage. Cities such as Tokyo and Hong Kong suffer from susceptibility and density but have plans in place. The geographical location of Kuala Lumpur and Seoul minimises their geophysical natural disasters risk, but there is more to be done to improve both cities’ urban design and disaster management plans.