When it comes to sustainable city, (Evelyn) Teh Lay Hoon, Senior Analyst of Urban Studies at Penang Institute, said that Copenhagen, Taiwan, and Japan are usually the cities that immediately pop up in everyone's minds, but to her – what matters more is that in the process of development, the unique characteristic of the city should not be lost.
"Of course we can list out some of the requirements that defines a sustainable city, such as having a safe infrastructure and network for cyclists in the city, the ability to walk securely on the streets at night, the availability of affordable housing and an inclusive environment that caters to the elderly community; however Penang has to seek balance between development and preservation of the city's identity."
Penang is rich in natural ecosystems but at the same time it is also actively developing high-value industries. Evelyn emphasized that a successful city is not about high-rise buildings, luxury cars and the likes. "I’ve always wished that at the same time of development, we will not lose ourselves and also not to forget that high-quality life originates from a good-living environment and quality time with families."
As for the city’s appearance of Penang for the next 15 years, one would immediately conjure these images:
The investment of international high-tech enterprises, moving of international talents into Penang, the balance between life, work and play in a peaceful environment, public strolling around the World Heritage Site during the weekends, friends enjoying a cup of Kopi O at the traditional kopitiam, families happily cycling among the rainforest trees in the National Park...... Such is the beautiful picture that people would yearn for, but there are only 14 years left before the end of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Is it possible for Penang to realize this goal by then? Evelyn said, "Sustainable city is the only direction for Penang. If we start today, taking steps toward this goal with every effort, I believe we can make it."
Source: Sin Chew Daily, Special Focus - 8 February 2017