Iskandar, an area that covers 2,217 square kilometers at the southern tip of Malaysia, is the center of its country’s sustainable development strategy as an ultra-green and socially integrated city of the future. This megalopolis, which is about 3 times the size of Singapore, is planned to run on green energy – eliminating a lot of the pollution problems facing modern Asian cities – and is supposed to be a socially inclusive haven for people to live, work and play. The current population of Iskander is 1.3 million people and it’s projected to grow to 3 million by 2025.
The development plan for Iskander is an attempt to address the burgeoning populations in the cities and slums of developing countries. Incorporating sustainability at the ground level of Iskander’s city planning is a smart strategy by Malaysia’s Global Science and Innovative Advisory Council (GSIAC), which is an all-star assembly of national and international experts created to inform and assist in the nation’s development. Sustainability plans include renewable energy production, publicly provided transportation and recycling and upcycling waste.
The eco-city is not just going to be a center for green technology though. It is also envisioned as a great place to live, with social equity at the center of its mission. Iskander will offer plenty of green, public spaces to encourage community-building and social cohesion. According to Najib Razak, prime minister of Malaysia and member of the GSIAC, “Iskandar Malaysia [is] a smart city template – protecting the environment, promoting equitable development and addressing urban development challenges [through] the creation of smart, livable, urban communities that will yield an improved quality of life for thousands of citizens.” By 2025, the anticipated GDP of Iskandar will be $193.3 billion, a 465% increase from 2005 and a per capita GDP of $31,100, a 210% increase.
The strategies employed to make Iskandar a sustainable, socially responsible and economically vibrant city are meant to be replicable. Urban development experts hope Iskandar will be an example of a solution for urban population growth in developing countries and other parts of the world. Ellis Rubinstein, president of the New York Academy of Sciences, says it could be “a model for countries needing to accomodate the social and economic needs of fast-rising populations and environmental challenges.”
To make the vision of Iskandar as a city of the future a reality, the Malaysian government has already attracted support from Pinewood Studios, which plans to build new facilities in Iskander, as well as Legoland, which is planning to build its first Asian theme park in the city. Several UK universities are also planning to open remote campuses in Iskander. Thus far, more than $30 billion dollars have been pledged to help the city achieve its goals.
Via The Guardian