Iskandar Malaysia: Asia's Newest "Smart Metropolis"
12 December, 2012

(This post is brought to you by Iskandar Regional Development Authority)

Iskandar Malaysia has been identified as the first “smart metropolis” in Asia thanks to being founded on principles of low carbon, green economy, green technologies and social integration, allowing it to serve as a potential template for urban development in emerging countries with burgeoning populations.

Malaysia’s ambition for Iskandar Malaysia – set to occupy three times the land area of adjacent Singapore – is for it to be both a model of sustainable development and Asia’s third economic and social hub, after Hong Kong and Singapore. Located 300km south of Kuala Lumpur, Iskandar Malaysia has been planned, since its inception in 2006, as an environmentally friendly and socially responsible metropolis, demonstrating innovations that many international experts consider essential for meeting the growing challenge of 21stcentury urbanisation.

“We envisage in Iskandar Malaysia a mixture of skyscrapers, high rises as well as low-carbon, self-contained cities, townships, villages and neighbourhoods,” says Datuk Ismail Ibrahim, Chief Executive of Iskandar Regional Development Authority. By 2025, the anticipated GDP of Iskandar will be US$93.3 billion, a 465% increase from 2005, and a per capita GDP of $31,100, a 210% increase.

The development was recently the subject of a special meeting of Malaysia’s Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council (GSIAC), a unique assembly of all-star national and international experts created to inform and assist the nation’s sustainable development.

Professor Emeritus, Dato’ Seri Dr Zakri Abdul Hamid, Joint Chairman of Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) and science advisor to the Prime Minister, says Malaysia is determined to become a high-income country in an environmentally responsible way through the creation of “smart” urban areas and villages. “Seldom has any country ever had the opportunity to create a complete urban metropolis of this size virtually from scratch,” said Professor Zakri.

Ellis Rubinstein, President and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS), adds that “Malaysia’s Iskandar ‘smart metropolis’ seeks to offer a model to countries needing to accommodate the social and economic needs of fast-rising populations and environmental challenges.”

MIGHT President Mohd Yusoff Sulaiman notes that over 600 initiatives are being pursued under more than 20 blueprints so far, covering every aspect of Iskandar Malaysia’s development, including environmental planning, energy efficiency, land use, housing, community safety, social infrastructure, education, tourism, business development, communications, road design, public transportation, maintenance, and solid waste, stormwater and shoreline management. The latest addition will be the LCS Blueprint, which is expected to be launched at COP18 in Qatar later this month.

In addition to the “smart metropolis,” Iskandar Malaysia is planning to build “smart villages” and “eco-towns” consisting of affordable homes, high-tech educational, training and recreational facilities, and a creative, closed-loop agricultural system providing villagers with food and supplementary income.

Planners have placed livability and sustainability at the heart of the development, with an aim of achieving low carbon society status. In line with this, Iskandar Malaysia is the focus of a major research project called Development of Low Carbon Scenarios for Asian Regions which aims to reduce the region’s greenhouse gas intensity emissions by 50% by 2025 (base year 2005). With the assistance of international urban and LCS experts, Iskandar planners have designed a low-carbon society for the metropolis based on:

  1. Reduced use of petroleum and coal infavour of natural gas, biomass, solarpower;
  2. Construction of low-carbon buildings;
  3.  A “smart” transportation system for public and private vehicles;
  4. Social and economic inclusion.

The establishment of the first “smart metropolis” of Asia is attracting “smart money” from foreign investors. From 2006 up to June 2012, Iskandar has attracted US$31.2 billion in committed investments, 38% of which are from foreign sources. More than 10% of that new investment was committed in the first six months of 2012.

In September 2012, the first Legoland theme park in Asia opened in Iskandar Malaysia in a 76-acre park, with a water park set to open in 2013 and a themed hotel within the grounds to open in 2014.

Meanwhile, UK-based Pinewood Studios is marketing Iskandar as a destination for filmmaking. The 20-hectare Pinewood Studios complex opening in early 2013 will be the largest independent integrated studio facility in Southeast Asia.

Iskandar Malaysia is also attracting world-renowned educational institutions which are establishing campuses in the metropolis, such as Newcastle University, Raffles University, University of Southampton, and Marlborough College.

Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA);
G-01, Block 8, Danga Bay,
Jalan Skudai, 80200
Johor Bahru
Tel: 07.233 3000
Fax: 07.233 3001
For further information please visit:
Iskandar Malaysia Information Centre (IMIC);
Bay Leaf A, Danga Bay Convention Centre,
Jalan Skudai, 80200 Johor Bahru, MalaysiaIskandar Malaysia: Asia's Newest "Smart Metropolis"


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Source: The Expat December 2012

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