Sustainability Science Demonstration Site 1: Langkawi, Malaysia


Summary of Project Activities and Result
Langkawi UNESCO Geopark Photo, photo credit : LESTARI UKM

Photo Credit : LESTARI UKM

Langkawi UNESCO Global Geopark, Malaysia’s first established Geopark, holds outstanding geological features, is rich in biodiversity with rare mangrove species found throughout the area, and rich in socio-cultural heritage. Langkawi Geopark fast became a nature-based tourist destination which unfortunately also led to an increase in demand for development. Langkawi Geopark was selected as one of UNESCO Sustainability Science demonstration sites to showcase how environmental education can deliver better ecotourism outcomes through improved environmental and water management.

Under the project, to understand current situation, water quality sampling and laboratory analysis were carried out from 15 stations of selected rivers and tributaries around Langkawi Geopark showed that all stations were categorized under class I or II (clean and slightly polluted), indicating that that present freshwater resource can be utilized with some treatment. However, based on dialogue, discussion and interviews with local stakeholders, the rapid development currently taking place in Langkawi to cater for the tourism needs have contributed towards major water and environmental sustainability related issues within the past few years. Key environmental issues of Langkawi Geopark have been identified after extensive stakeholders’ dialogue and questionnaire data collection in order to gather local communities’ point of view. The issues are: (i) solid waste management/rubbish; (ii) sewage discharge; (iii) water quality deterioration; (iv) lack of awareness; (v) land clearing/forest area reduction/mangrove exploitation; and (vi) tourism and recreation activities.

Based on these findings, pathway towards sustainability to promote sustainability science practices at the Langkawi Geopark were established, which include:

  • The establishment of a Community Learning Alliances for Sustainability Science (CLA-SS) in Langkawi as education centre
  • The identification of four Sustainability Showcases for promoting sustainability science practices in Langkawi Geopark to be coordinated under the umbrella of Langkawi Research centre (LRC) of LESTARI, UKM, which are (i) Local Community participation in Natural Resources Conservation and Management at Kilim Geoforest Park; (ii) Water and Environmental Sustainability Practices; (iii) Socio-Cultural Heritage Preservation; and (iv) Interaction between Local Authority and Local Community in Langkawi Geopark.

These showcases will produce better coordination and integration of local authorities and local communities in Langkawi in order to preserve and conserve water and natural environment of Langkawi Geopark. Such an approach is suggested as the identified water and environmental issues in Langkawi can only be solved through trans-disciplinary approach.

Conclusion and Recommendations

It is concluded that water and environmental sustainability in Langkawi Geopark will be best conserved and managed by taking into account the elements of social, cultural, institutional and policy in Langkawi, ensuring that those elements of sustainability are integrated, and ensuring that monitoring and evaluation are carried out. Assessment of stock and flows feasibility in Langkawi has been carried out and integration as well as M&E measures have been recommended as in table below:

Sustainability Science Framework Langkawi

Table : Sustainability Science Framework Application for Langkawi Geopark

Specific recommendations have also been put forward by local communities, which include:

  • Initiating and/or intensifying programme on water resources in Langkawi, including education on water resources, Water Appreciation day
  • Increasing involvement in social and cultural activities in Langkawi
  • Awareness raising activities on environment
  • Improving coordination among stakeholders and synergy among planning documents
  • Improving management of water resources and environment, including flood run-off, sewage treatment, mangrove restoration
  • Monitoring and evaluation of water resources and environment, including law enforcement, banning of plastic bag, banning of polystyrene, and monitoring by UNESCO
  • Strengthening efforts to preserve or sustain water resources in Langkawi, including well water hydrogeology, new dam and reservoir, alternative water resources, volunteering program, increased monitoring.
  • Strengthening efforts to preserve or sustain the environment in Langkawi, including awareness program, days “without plastic”, recycling, car-pooling, replanting trees


Disclaimer: this page is primarily extracted from Elfithri, R. et al (2016).
For further reading:

  • Elfithri, R., Mokhtar, M. B., Abdullah, M. P., Taha, M. R., Toriman, M. E., Yasin, R. M., Ismail, S. M., Amir, A. A., Unjah, T., Halim, S. A., Saad, N. M. N. F. M., Ayob, K. A. K., Leman, N., Kadir, N. A., Ishak, S. A., & Khalik. W. M. A. W. M. 2016. Establishment of Sustainability Science Demonstration Site on Water and Environmental Sustainability Education Linked with Ecotourism in Langkawi Geopark. Technical Report. Institute for Environment and Development (LESTARI). Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
  • UNESCO, 2017. Lessons Learnt and Best Practices from UNESCO Sustainability Science Demonstration Sites in Southeast Asia. Report. Jakarta

Project Partner

Lestari UKM

List of Stakeholders

The stakeholders consulted during the project are:

Government (State & Federal Agency) :

  • Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) Langkawi
  • Department of Environment (DOE) Langkawi
  • Department of Forestry Langkawi
  • Department of Statistic
  • Public Work Department (PWD) Langkawi
  • Pejabat Pertubuhan Peladang (PPP)
  • Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI)
  • Town and Country Planning Department (JPBD) Langkawi
  • Fire and Rescue Department Langkawi
  • Magistrate Court Langkawi
  • Education Office Langkawi
  • Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (RISDA)
  • Jabatan Kemajuan Masyarakat (KEMAS) Langkawi
  • Kedah Regional Development Authority (KEDA)
  • Malaysia Civil Defence Force (JPAM) Langkawi
  • The People’s Volunteer Corps (RELA) Langkawi
  • Langkawi Immigration Department
  • Langkawi Anti Drug Agency

Government (Local Authority) :

  • Langkawi Development Authority (LADA)
  • Langkawi District and Land Office
  • Langkawi Municipal Council

NGOs :

  • Friends of Langkawi Geopark (FLAG)
  • Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Langkawi
  • Langkawi Tourist Guide Association (LTGA)
  • Langkawi Fisherman Association

Private Sector :

  • Taliworks Sdn Bhd
  • Syarikat Air Darul Aman (SADA)
  • The Fragipani Langkawi Resort and Spa Hotel
  • Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Corporation (SWCorp) Langkawi
  • Environment Idaman Sdn Bhd ( E-Idaman) Langkawi
  • Mahsuri Tomb and Cultural Centre Langkawi
  • Tourist Information Centre (TIC) Langkawi
  • Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) Langkawi
  • Galeria Perdana
  • Langkawi FM

University :

  • Langkawi Research Centre (LRC) of UKM

Community :

  • Boatman Community at Kilim Geoforest Park
  • Local Community in Langkawi Geopark (Nyior Cabang Community, Kelibang Resident Community, Bohor Resident, etc)
  • Community Committee (JKK) Ulu Melaka Sub District