Govt to reveal plans to mitigate rising sea levels, coastal erosions next month

Malaysia’s busiest sea gateway, Port Klang, and iconic tourist destination Langkawi, have been identified as high-risk locations following projections of rising sea levels in the near future.

To date, there are close to six million people living in coastal areas in Peninsular Malaysia and Labuan, and the number is projected to rise to 7.9 million by 2040.

The projected rise in sea levels would affect 20,670 hectares of land in 2030, 23,120 hectares in 2050, and 33,562 hectares in 2100.

According to the findings by the Housing and Local Government Ministry, if a tsunami were to hit Peninsular Malaysia, some 123,057 hectares of land would be devastated.

There are six major cities – George Town, Kuantan, Johor Bahru, Bandar Labuan, Kuala Terengganu and Melaka – and 2,344 villages located in the coastal areas of the peninsular. Equally important are the 155 historical, cultural and archaeological sites, and 188 natural attractions located in the zone.

Businesses and those living in these areas would be badly affected if coastal erosions and rising sea levels are not addressed promptly. If left unchecked, marine life, birds, animals, and specific flora and fauna will also be at risk.

These findings, and more, will be revealed in the National Coastal Zone Physical Plan 2 (RFZPPN 2), which will be released by Housing and Local Government Minister, Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican, on June 14.

The second edition of the RFZPPN will also specify the government’s action plans and initiatives that will help mitigate coastal erosion and ensure the wellbeing of those living in, and carrying out businesses along the peninsular’s 3,853km coastline.

These initiatives will serve as a guide for local councils and state governments in Peninsular Malaysia and Labuan to adhere to. They will be closely monitored by the ministry.

The government’s initiatives will also see collaborations with stakeholders, including those from the private sector.

This is also the first time that the Coastal Vulnerability Index (CVI) for the whole of Peninsular Malaysia and Labuan would be revealed. In the past, CVIs were based on specific locations or states.

Sabah and Sarawak were not included in the RFZPPN as they are not bound by certain federal statutes and laws, like the Local Government Act 1976, and the National Land Code.

The first RFZPPN, which was made public in 2012, focused on two parameters. The upcoming edition will include 18 parameters involving three components – physical, biodiversity, and socio-economy.