Penang, Malaysia, hosts WCD Impact and Sustainability Conference 20–23 April 2024

Written by
Jim Sharman
April 30, 2024

[Country Leaders and their teams, outside the venue.]

A packed programme – and a packed hall!

This month, the World Cleanup Day (WCD) Asia Region Conference took place, as representatives from Asia and beyond gathered in Penang, at the invitation of the host organisers, Let’s Do It Malaysia (LDIM), led by Henry Teh, with Let’s Do It World (LDIW) CEO, Anett Linno, delivering the opening speech.

[Opening speech from Anett Linno, LDIW CEO]

This fantastic 4-day event brought together 250 participants from 18 countries and territories to examine the themes of Impact Model and Sustainability for the World Cleanup Day campaigns. Expert speakers, including LDIW Network Country Leaders, shared best practices and hosted numerous workshops, including extra-curricular activities, such as an early-morning mass cleanup action.

[Early morning collective action – every day is World Cleanup Day!]

Country Leaders also took the opportunity to talk about what happens beyond cleanup activities themselves, and delegates learnt about many great educational projects that countries like Singapore, Japan, and India have introduced.

Further examples of how innovative technology and ground-breaking educational programmes across many countries in the Asian region provided rich material for organisational strategic implementation, which can travel beyond Asia and into the whole network.

[Delegates enjoying the programme inside the venue]

Some of the many topics covered in the conference included:

•⁠  ⁠Beyond Cleanup Projects from representatives of LDIW's global member countries

•⁠  ⁠Presentations from the Federal Territories Director for Solid Waste Management and Public Cleaning Corporation, the Deputy Undersecretary of Climate Change Division, and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability of Malaysia (NRES) (a very important partner for Malaysia)

•⁠  ⁠An afternoon dedicated to a youth forum, with discussions about how youth could be better empowered and sharing about what kinds of different initiatives panellists' organisations have for youth.

ESG, CSR, Earth Day and tree planting

The conference’s timing, held during Earth Month, coincided nicely with Earth Day itself on 22 April. The day was dedicated to ESG + CSR Impact, including an enjoyable panel discussion on the topic of how to manage and address conflict of interest and consistency while managing potential and existing community and green washing.

In what proved to be an extremely busy day for all participants, starting early in the morning with the earlier-mentioned cleanup, the day’s programme concluded with delegates joining the local community in a scheme to plant over 165,000 trees along the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Highway and Persiaran Karpal Singh.

[LDIW members join the local community for tree-planting on Earth Day]

This was the kick-start to a programme that saw 1 million trees planted in just one day, on 500 acres of local land by the TYT Charity Foundation of the Governor of Penang, of which 165,000 were planted in Penang City Island, and 100 trees allocated just for Areca Park, Sungai Pinang. [Source.]

Every single polybag from every single tree was collected with the help of Penang Island City Council, Seberang Perai City Council, LDIM, and the Malaysian Humanitarian Foundation team, embracing the concept of collect, recycle, reuse.

Sharing, caring, and daring!

Knowledge-sharing is such a powerful tool – and conferences like these are invaluable, e.g.  groups from Myanmar and Malaysia demonstrated how they are recycling waste materials into fashion accessories, which was great fun for all involved! 

Later that evening, there was also a fantastic fashion show featuring upcycled clothing, along with the obligatory colourful and vibrant catwalk display of the items themselves.

[Catwalk celebrations at the Upcycling & Sustainable Fashion Show]

The Mayor of Penang Island City Council, Datuk Rajendran P. Anthony, hosted a Reception, at which he expressed his gratitude to the LDIM team. Penang is committed to becoming a Green City and he admired the tenacity of our movement, which has positively influenced local government policy to that end.

[Penang City Mayor speaking at the conference. Source.]

“MBPP, guided by its Strategic Plan 2021-2025, will implement initiatives and programs according to the motto, ‘Smart, Comfortable, and Happy City’ towards a Low Carbon City, in line with the Penang Vision 2030,” he said, while expressing hope that such cooperation and collaboration would continue and become an annual event. [Source.]

Asia’s invitation to all to act

On the final day, the audience was treated to closing speeches from Henry Teh (LDIM Country Leader), Zin Yadana, (WCD Myanmar Country Leader), and Heidi Solba (LDIW President & Head of Global Network), as well as from Mayor Rajendran Anthony, and the theme of the final workshop was on upcycling and recycling.

[Mayor Anthony and Henry Teh display upcycled products. Source.]

Teh emphasised, “Everything we can see in front of us, we would like to see it recycled or upcycled. This conference has afforded us the opportunity to promote the integration of waste and energy management systems, along with the positive impact of volunteerism, all of which combines to us addressing climate change. Following on from our awareness-raising cleanup actions, we will be pushing for Net Zero yearly audits.”

Teh also highlighted that the Malaysian Humanitarian Foundation, which leads WCD activity in Malaysia, is spear-heading the establishment of plastic recycling manufacturers, which will produce all kinds of goods to be made out of collected plastic, e.g. reusable cups, sunglasses, keyholders, buttons, etc. 

[New products from old waste – handmade by the LDIM team.] 

Concluding speeches LDIW CEO, Anett Linno, and LDIW President & Head of Global Network, Heidi Solba, brought the conference to a close.

Summarising her experience of the conference, Solba said, “I am grateful to have attended the LDIW Asia Region Conference and am deeply thankful to all attendees who travelled from distant corners, sharing their expertise and inspiration. In this gathering, we strengthen our family and our common knowledge. I am deeply thankful to Henry Teh and the whole LDIM team, as well as Agustina Iskandar, for organising the conference.”

Linno added, “The LDIM team collaborated closely with local government, business organisations, and SCOs to make this Regional Conference happen. Meeting our Asian leaders and teams brought us together again and gave us an opportunity to learn more about what is happening beyond the cleanups. We are inspired by, and are grateful to have met, our creative, smart, kind, and mission-driven people, who carry the values and mission of our movement. These kinds of meetings are crucial in our network and I am grateful that Malaysia, and the other Asian teams who helped to organise this event, brought us together again.”

The hosts proved themselves to be very welcoming and entertaining, having catered wonderfully for delegates arriving from all the following participating places: Cambodia, Estonia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Macau, Madagascar, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Palestine, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, and Viet Nam.

The dedication of the LDIW movement was once again visible to the world and we look forward to an incredible World Cleanup Day 2024. Let’s do it!

[Anett Linno’s participation in the event was supported by Estonia's National Foundation of Civil Society ("KÜSK" – SA Kodanikuühiskonna Sihtkapital). Thank you for your support!]

The World Cleanup Day Asia Region Conference took place last week in Penang, with many informative and revealing presentations, discussions and workshops. Over 250 participants from 18 countries and territories took part, demonstrating in very clear terms the commitment of the Asia region’s Let’s Do It and World Cleanup Day teams. Read more about this phenomenally successful and inspirational event!
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