NEW YORK:  Efforts towards Environmental Sustainability require strong engagements and links at all levels among various nations, agencies and expert groups that would lead to intense cooperation towards achieving shared goals in environmental sustainability, guided by sound principles and value.

According to UTM Vice-Chancellor Zaini Ujang, this is the guiding principle behind the commitment of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) to establish collaboration with the Earth Institute, University of Columbia since 2010 to develop a more comprehensive framework on environmental management which is performance oriented.

This cooperation is based on environmental performance index (EPI) for Malaysia which will be the key performance indicator (KPI) for various agencies in the country, to be headed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

During the second annual general meeting of the Global Sciences and Innovation Advisory Council (GSIAC) Malaysia at the New York Academy of Science, chaired by Prime Minister Najib Razak, UTM and University of Columbia sealed a Memorandum of Understanding towards conducting more dynamic and vibrant research and innovation initiatives in environmental sustainability.

UTM was represented by Prof Zaini Ujang, while University of Columbia by Dr Bob Chen, Coordinator of EPI.

Through the Memorandum of Understanding, University of Columbia will elect UTM as the coordinator for the East Asia region to promote the use of EPI as the indicator for sustainable environment initiatives.

The understanding covers areas of research, staff exchange and student activities including conducting training to make EPI a national policy to be adopted by various levels of agencies.

The announcement of EPI at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January 2012, indicated that Malaysia’s position in the EPI improved significantly from 54th position in 2010 to an impressive 26th position in the world.