SDG11 (Sustainable cities and communities)

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on 6 Oct, 21:46

Spearheading organic farming: Koperasi Belia Islam

This is a project located in #Malaysia.

Related SDGs:

  • #SDG11 (Sustainable cities and communities)
  • #SDG15 (Life on land)

Data collection methods: Interview

Updated since: 2014


Koperasi Belia Islam (KBI) is a credit co-operative based on Islamic financial principles, started in 1977. It is the economic arm of the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia, or ABIM) and generates income for its members and part of the expenses needed for the running of both organisations.

In the recent years, KBI shifted its services towards community mobilisation, and initiated its organic farming programme. The objectives of the programme are to generate additional income for households, to create wealth from waste by using low cost farming technologies, and to contribute towards food security, food safety, and food sovereignty of the country. It forges a smart partnership involving the land owner, the entrepreneur, the investor and the co-operative. Projects have been initiated in the below communities, in urban, rural and peri-urban settings:

  • Kampung Bidadari, Bintangor, Sarawak
  • Kampung Bukit Cerakah Jaya, Selangor
  • Felcra Resettlement Area in Pulau Banggi, Sabah
  • Felcra Resettlement Area in Batang Lupar, Sarawak
  • Kariah (parish) of Salahudin Ayubi Mosque, Kuala Lumpur
  • Kampung Lunas, Kedah

Communities are guided to plant vegetables organically for their own consumption. When the production stabilises, they are given guidance to form co-operatives to sell the vegetables. The projects are implemented through the recruitment and training of community mobilisers, who are able to identify support systems such as local organisations and institutions, local industries, natural and human resources. Box 1 delves deeper into a field visit of Kampung Bukit Cerakah Jaya, one of the organic farming projects initiated by KBI.

  • Approximately 10,000 members in the co-operative
  • Spearheaded six communities to start organic farming

Philosophy/Values/Traditional knowledge

KBI is founded and run based on principles of Islamic finance, which encapsulates certain values and ethics. For instance, profiteering based on usury and interest is strictly forbidden, and investments are made abiding by certain ethical standards. There is also an emphasis on social justice and sharing of profits and risks. In that, the organic farming programme is less concerned about financial returns on investment, and places more importance on community empowerment and education. Therefore, organic farming is marketed based on its health benefits first (through personal consumption of produce), and income generation second (through selling surplus produce).

The programme is also inspired by international movements such as the Growing Power movements in the US and La Via Campesina (International Peasant Movement), where goals extend beyond food production, into growing minds and communities. The Growing Power movement develops community food systems to provide high quality and affordable food for all; while La Via Campesina uses small-scale sustainable agriculture to promote social justice and dignity, and as a means to oppose corporate-driven agriculture and neo-liberalism.

Sustainability from the Triple Bottom Line

Environmental: Organic farming improves soil structure and has less impact on biodiversity. Not using chemical fertilisers and pesticides minimises air and water pollution, and reduces the carbon footprint of food production. Communities growing their own produce also lessen their food miles.

Social: There are many social benefits that accompany the environmental benefits of organic farming. There is positive impact on human health with less exposure to harmful chemicals while producing or eating organic food. People are empowered at the local level to have more control over what they eat, and are less dependent on external sources and cash for food security. KBI aims to alleviate poverty and increase social inclusion, by stimulating the development of micro-enterprises and creating jobs through the farming, processing, packaging and marketing of organic products. Communities are enriched by the increase of social capital through working together, and the increase of environmental consciousness amongst their people.

Economic: In terms of economic sustainability, KBI derives income from trading the organic produce that come from the projects that it has started. However, as the level of production is not very high, it is still supported by other money-making activities within the credit union.

Challenges faced

Some challenges cited include the difficulty in maintaining the projects without on-the-ground supervision, and the difficulty in getting younger people interested in organic farming. Working with local communities with some state funding, their projects are affected by the changing of political parties at the state level who may withdraw their support. At the federal level, government subsidies on chemical fertilisers and pesticides incentivise conventional farming at the expense of organic farming.

on 20 Sep, 21:01

Community Recycling: Taiwan Buddhist Tzu-Chi Foundation Malaysia

This is a project located in #Malaysia.

Related SDGs:

  • #SDG12 (Responsible consumption and production)
  • #SDG11 (Sustainable cities and communities)

Data collection methods: Field visit, interview

Updated since: 2014


Taiwan Buddhist Tzu-Chi Foundation Malaysia (here forth Tzu-Chi) is a Buddhist association that originated from Taiwan in 1966, and has been registered in Malaysia as a foundation since 1996. Since 1990, the founder Master Cheng Yen enlisted Environmental Protection as one of the organisation’s “8 Charitable Footprints”. Her followers all over the world are urged to recycle as part of their service in exercising their faith. There are four regional headquarters in Malaysia: the Central (Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Pahang), the South (Negeri Sembilan, Malacca and Johor), the North (Penang, Perlis, Perak, Kedah, Terengganu and Kelantan), and East Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak). Each of the headquarters report directly to the main headquarters in Taiwan.

Recycling is considered to be a meaningful activity to reach out to the public, with a low barrier of entry and visible results. Tzu-Chi regards their recruitment of recycling volunteers as “recruitment of Bodhisattvas”, i.e. enlightened and compassionate beings who serve others selflessly as the embodiment of Buddha’s spirit. Through recycling at a personal level, many volunteers are inspired to spread the message to their friends and family, or to expand to implementing recycling systems at the workplace.

In terms of operations, Tzu-Chi volunteers run recycling points and recycling stations. Recycling points are temporary locations that the members congregate at specific times to collect recyclables. Recycling stations provide a permanent location for collecting, sorting and storing recyclables. The recycling points and stations are positioned in high density residential areas. Volunteers organise to meet at varied times that enable different types of participants to come, e.g. weekday mornings for housewives and retired people, weekday evenings for office people to come after work, and weekends for families.

Tzu-Chi has volunteers to sort through unwanted clothes (which they get in high volume) and repair broken electrical appliances. For goods that are still in good quality, they are sold through Tzu-Chi second hand centres at a low price. These centres are frequented by migrant workers, who buy the products for personal use or for re-selling at the market. Other recyclables (such as paper and plastic) are sorted to increase their value, and sold in bulk to interested buyers. The money earned is channelled into Tzu-Chi’s operations or charity purposes.

See the video by Youth On Unity to have a clearer idea on Tzu-Chi’s recycling:

Philosophy/Values/Traditional knowledge

The philosophy behind Tzu-Chi’s recycling can be encapsulated in three steps: to purify one’s heart and soul, to ensure peace and harmony in society, and to free the world from disasters and calamities. Through the process of recycling, the volunteer cleanses her soul from negativity and greed for material possessions. She uses recycling as a tool for spiritual betterment, and the positive difference is then amplified at the societal level and then the global level. As the individual benefits from the act, she does it willingly and without compensation.

Organisational model

Tzu-Chi has been registered in Malaysia as a foundation. It has 13,500 volunteers actively engaged in recycling. There are 1,000 recycling stations and recycling points across the country.

Triple Bottomline

Social sustainability:

  • While collecting and sorting through waste, volunteers experience gratification in turning trash to resource and preserving the environment, and reap the meditative effect of doing repetitive and manual work. The act of recycling has been helpful to people suffering from depression or general loneliness and isolation.
  • People from all walks of life come together to serve as “the earth’s gardeners”, with recycling as the tool to rekindle the community spirit and solidarity with other living beings, as well as the sense of appreciation towards life in general.
  • The recycling stations also double as centres for education (for recycling and for Buddhist teachings) and community activities. Tzu-Chi does not discriminate among race or religion, and has volunteers of different faiths.

Environmental sustainability:

  • From the recycling programme, volunteers learn about waste and product cycles experientially, and view “rubbish” as “resource” with a zero waste mentality. Through sorting through household waste of others, their own consumption patterns change.
  • Tzu-Chi also does considerable environmental education, reaching out to its thousands of volunteers through newsletters and face-to-face activities. Among the environmental acts advocated are vegetarianism, as well as refraining from burning joss paper during the Seventh Lunar Month to pray to the dead (which is common in Chinese customs) that releases considerable carbon emissions.

Economic sustainability

  • There are four funds that are administered within Tzu-Chi – the Charity Fund (for low income families, disaster relief and home visit programmes), Development Fund (for supporting the organisation to promote its 4 missions), International Fund (for international disaster relief) and Building Fund (for construction of infrastructure such as the Jing Si Hall). Tzu-Chi collects donations from its members and volunteers, and allows them to choose the Fund that they wish to contribute to. The Charity Fund and International Fund are well-funded, therefore income from the recycling programme goes to the Building Fund or the Development Fund, in maintaining the Tzu-Chi’s operations.


  • Committed volunteers are difficult to find.
  • Some of the waste are theoretically recyclable but are trashed because there is no local buyer in Malaysia.
  • While working on the ground, Tzu-Chi sometimes faces problems with bureaucracy, on applying for permits for their recycling points and recycling stations. On using recycling stations that are provided by the municipality councils, the stations vary widely in facilities provided, from “proper” recycling stations that include toilets, to just a small patch of vacant land.

Feature image credit goes to Leo Club of SMK Jinjang



on 20 Sep, 12:47

SDG11: Sustainable cities and communities

SDG11: Sustainable cities and communities

#SDG11 – Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

  • By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums
  • By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons
  • By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
  • Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage
  • By 2030, significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of people affected and substantially decrease the direct economic losses relative to global gross domestic product caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations
  • By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management
  • By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities
  • Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning
  • By 2020, substantially increase the number of cities and human settlements adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans towards inclusion, resource efficiency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, resilience to disasters, and develop and implement, in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, holistic disaster risk management at all levels
  • Support least developed countries, including through financial and technical assistance, in building sustainable and resilient buildings utilizing local materials

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