CLA News / Borneo Rainforest Law Conference session report: From local to global–learning from Sabah and the region’s sustainable development journey


Chaired by Roger Chin, (Sabah) with panellists Sia Yen Hua, Brenndon Keith Soli, JP,  Rudi Bachtiar and Datuk Fuad Tengku Ahmad.

Sia Yen Hua (Malaysia):  Yen showcased the Tanjung Aru project in Sabah which reclaimed and developed a large beach area that was, in 2012, very polluted and subject to rapid erosion from the sea.

An ambitious and forward-looking sustainable development proposal was prepared, but there was, not surprisingly, a funding issue. Tax incentives and a public private partnership ultimately resulted in the development proceeding. This sustainable development has been extraordinarily successful and the development received an international design award.

Brenndon Keith Soli JP of Malaysia:  Brenndon reminded the attendees that Malaysia is one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world.  Brenndon described the development of a living landscape approach exemplified in a 5 year Memorandum of Understanding between the World Wildlife Fund (Malaysia) and the Town and Regional Planning Department under which the production of RSPO certified sustainable palm oil would be limited to the current palm oil fields, with the other land being protected and restored. This project was showcased at COP 15 in Montreal, Canada.

Rudi Bachtiar of Indonesia focussed on issues related to Indonesia’s forests and identified the legislation and regulations relating to forest types and logging.  Indonesia has the third largest tropical rainforest in the world. Rudi referred to 1999 legislation and the further regulations in place since 2007 and 2021.

Rudi described the approval process for agreements depending on the different categories of the forests identified, the specific villages and indigenous groups involved in implementing the forestry conservation plans. Other initiatives in Borneo were described, including a project designed to preclude forest fires.

Datuk Fuad Tengku Ahmad of Malaysia described his view of the technical obstacles with the Nature  Conservation Agreement, a carbon credit arrangement which the state Attorney General has described as ‘legally impotent’.  There are innumerable issues, including the vague description of the designated ares for the carbon credit agreement and the agreement’s attempt to bind parliament.  It also appears clear that  little, if any,  due diligence was done when determining the partner in the agreement, Hoch Standard.

Featured left to right: Brenndon Keith Soli, JP, (Malaysia) Sia Yen Hua (Malaysia), Roger Chin (chair, Malaysia),  B Rudi Bachtiar (Indonesia) and Datuk Fuad Tengku Ahmad (Malaysia).

Laurie Pawlitza

CLA Vice President Americas