Iskandar Malaysia, the first 'smart metropolis' of Southeast Asia founded on principles of social integration as well as low carbon emissions thanks to a green economy and green technologies, is a potential template for urban development in emerging countries with burgeoning populations.
Iskandar has been planned since its 2006 inception as an environment-friendly, socially-responsible metropolis, demonstrating innovations many international experts consider essential for meeting the growing challenge of 21st century urbanization.
Iskandar planners have designed a low carbon metropolis based on:
- Reduced use of petroleum and coal in favour of natural gas, biomass, solar power, and an increase in energy efficiency.
- Construction of low-carbon buildings that require low energy and natural resources and produce zero or low greenhouse gasses.
- A 'smart' transportation system for public and private vehicles, as well as transit oriented development, including mixed-use residential or commercial areas designed to maximize access to public transport, which often incorporate features to encourage transit ridership.
The United Nations estimates that the human population will grow from 7 billion to 9 billion by 2050, of which more than 6 billion will live in urban environments, almost double today's number. The increase necessitates building the equivalent of a city of 1 million every week until 2050!
The environmental stress caused by this intense urban growth is immense. Over 70% of CO2 emissions today relate to city needs. Anticipated urban CO2 emissions by 2030: 36.5 billion metric tonnes, assuming business as usual. This represents more than double the urban emissions of 1990.
Planners have placed livability and sustainability at the heart of the Iskandar development, with a goal of achieving low carbon society status -- emitting greenhouse gases no greater in volume than levels that can be absorbed by nature.