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Helping find solution to Penampang’s flood woes
Published on: Wednesday, July 17, 2019
By: Kan Yaw Chong

KOTA KINABALU: Penampang’s infamous flood woes may finally find an answer as its District Council signs up next Saturday to join the action-centric Global Covenant of Mayors (GCoM) – the world’s biggest coalition of 10,000 cities which work together to fight climate change, with financial backing by the European Union. 

Minister of International Trade Datuk Darell Leiking, who is also Penampang Member of Parliament, will speak and witness the signing ceremony on July 20–the last day of a three-day inaugural GCoM Workshop starting July 18, hosted by the Penamapng District Council with Freddy Ekol as Organising Chairman. 

Asked in what ways GCoM can help Penampang tame its damaging big floods which recur several times a year, Pier Roberto Remitti, GCoM’s lead expert on climate action who arrived Monday to coordinate the training workshop said:

 “There are many cities or quasi cities in the world like Penampang which have problems with floods. So first of all we will put Penampang in touch with them, exchange experience, learn from their knowledge which will open up an opportunity for direct experience on how those cities deal with their flooding,” Pier said.

“Our experts will also learn from Penampang by asking them to identify action projects which are needed in order to prevent the flooding but we will help them to identify the action projects.”

“It can be some kind of public infrastructure, the right infrastructure to be here, big or small, to prevent flooding, it depends but of course first of all you have to make analysis and we will help Penampang in doing the risk and vulnerability assessment, including risk and vulnerability in flooding,” Pier noted. 

“You have to analyse and check the risk of the territory, how  this territory is vulnerable to those events. So you need first of all a detailed analysis of those events, how much they are happening, where they are happening, which zones, where this flooding is coming from, what is the main cause, how many people are affected, how many infrastructure like roads, housing are affected,” Pier told Daily Express.

Pressed if a GCoM membership will definitely help, Pier assured: “Yes, I am sure it will happen, not in one day, not today, this is  a process that has to be built. Of course becoming a member happens in one day which means the mayor signs a commitment to the reduction of carbon emissions on behalf of the city in an amount that equals to commitment of the national government and then following the commitment the city develops a climate action plan,” Pier explained.

“We will develop this together with Penampang, help them to identify the right projects and actions that are good and sound  in order to deal address flooding and other programmes but the implementation of these actions will take time of course but you have to start the project now and this is important from Penampang because as soon as they start, they have a solution through interactions with many other cities, experts of the rest of the world, experts of International Urban Co-operation set up by the EU for city to city co-operation, and other experts so they will receive lots of support in finding solutions,” Pier asserted.      

GCoM usually helps members to access international funding institutions to look for the necessary resources to implement their projects and actions, according to him.              

However, Pier stressed: “Community involvement is a very important and crucial part a climate action planning process, not just a plan created or decision taken by municipal staff with the help and support of experts, university academicians and scientific experts.”

“Each kind of stakeholders, groups of people affected by flooding in this case have  to be involved  in order to get their opinions, their interest, their understanding, their knowledge so that the final action implemented are to be decided  according to the views  of the stakeholders in the city, not just the Council.”   

More than 21 cities and local authorities from across Malaysia will be here for the historic event. 

What does Pier says about Penampang’s interest first orchestrated by Freddy Ekol and Boyd Joeman, a Sabahan who is Head of Environment of Iskandar Malaysia Regional Development Authority, Johor?

“I feel very good about it, there’s high number of cities coming, great expectations, including two European cities; San Sebastian from Spain, Zagreb from Croatia to showcase their best practices  in climate adaptation and building their climate action plans, plus cities from Indonesia and  the Philippines. So there’s going to be huge exchange involving many regions in the world and I expect new cities from Malaysia to sign up in addition to the current four,” Pier said.

Also confirmed coming  to speak is Dr Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi, Secretary General of United Cities and Local Government for Asia Pacific, who is a graduate in Urban engineering , University of Tokyo; Atmospheric Physics form University Nagoya, and Public Policy from the National University of Singapore. 

Besides Pier, other speakers at the event include Prof Ho, a Malaysian authority on low carbon economy, Dr Justin Sentian, UMS lecturer on climate change, Senator Adrian Bannie Lasimbang and others like Hannah Piak from Carbon Disclosure Project and  Dr Eleonora.



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