Dear Friends of a Sustainable Penang,
I am hard at work on a challenging book under the title BETTER CHOICES: Bringing Sustainable Mobility to Smaller Asian Cities, which is not about Penang, the focus being much broader. However, at one point in the book I intend to comment on some of the most interesting things I have observed that are being done in Penang via the internet and civil society in order to broaden the debate and inform both concerned citizens, government, the business community, policy makers and the public more generally. We call this The Third Force.
Based on my observations over the last three years, Penang is a particularly interesting case in this regard. Nowhere in my decades of international experience have I been confronted with a situation in which (a) civil society is more heavily committed to sustainability principles, while at the same time (b) the mass of the population strikes me as being quite indifferent about these issues. With the result that (c) local government does not seem to take this Third Force seriously when it comes to the most important issues and choices. In fact, local government either often argues back or simply lets the issues and views sit without response or meaningful action as requested.
Against this background, I would now, hopefully with your help, develop a brief profile showing how these groups are working today in Penang via the internet to support their objectives. What I need from you, I hope, and the reason for this note this morning, is (a) to tell me if this list is complete and if not to send on name, URL and a few descriptive words on each, and (b) are the indicated references appropriate in this case. (Note: Each of the following is hot-linked to their respective sites, though I may have some of this wrong as well.)
What I would hope to accomplish with this would be to show other smaller Asian cities (and indeed in the world) how citizens are part of the governance process and debate in one in many ways typical case, namely that of Penang. To do this, once we have the following list in good order, we hope to present next to each major group or program a short notes – say 2-4 lines at most — which briefly explains to the reader the role of that group/program.
I would be very grateful if you would lend a hand in this. I think it will be good for Penang, and I am sure that Penang’s example – Penang’s shining example, if I may – will inspire other smaller cities trying to come to grips with the changes of sustainable mobility and sustainable cities, and not only in Asia.
Finally, please feel free to share this with others who may share our common concerns.
Sustainable Penang Civil Society Honor Roll
(Working draft for comment and completion. All items hotlinked)
- #Better Penang
- Center for Global Sustainability Studies
- Citizens’ Awareness Chant group
- Consumers Association of Penang
- George Town World Heritage
- Let Justice Flow (Anil Netto)
- Penang Forum
- Penang Heritage Trust
- Penang Institute
- Penang Monthly
- Sahabat Alam Malaysia (Friends of the Earth)
- Suaram Penang
- Sustainable Penang: WhatsApp Forum
- Think City
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Bio: Educated as an international development economist, Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and sustainability activist who has worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change, civil society and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities | See Britton online at https://goo.gl/9CJXTh and @ericbritton