Penang Bay: A potential SDG City Zone and Economic Zone

Source of Action
World Urban Forum
2014 - 2030
Last Updated
27 March 2023


Penang Bay is an ambitious programme to rehabilitate, regenerate and rejuvenate the waterbased assets of George Town and Butterworth into a seamless and dynamic space aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is in a highly dense, urbanised and multicultural part of the state of Penang and a decade of analysis concludes that the future of Penang rides on a new spatial economy, based on the rehabilitation of its natural core, waterfronts and most connected areas. It also needs to build capacities in its economy and urban form to absorb future shocks. Penang Bay will be a New Economic Zone and the following SDGs have been identified as key to its success. Goal 3 Good health and well-being, Goal 4 Quality education, Goal 7 Affordable and clean energy, Goal 8 Decent work and economic growth, Goal 9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure, Goal 10 Reduced inequalities, Goal 11 Sustainable cities and communities, Goal 12 Responsible consumption and production, Goal 13 Climate action and Goal 14 Life below water. Penang Bay offers us the opportunity to invest in the built environment to improve resilience and create a future-proofed city. It also presents prospects in building on a green lifestyle, using nature to adapt to the effects of climate change, and to make new strides towards sustainable living. Furthermore, it aligns with the strategic blueprint of the state, Penang2030, and its vision of ‘A Family-Focused Green and Smart State that Inspires the Nation’. Key areas in the economic realm to support this New Economic Zone is the push for industries of the future that leverage on Penang’s unique qualities and enhancing the ‘stickiness’ of Penang for talent and capital by enhancing its liveability and investment opportunities. Other areas of focus would be the rich culture in Penang as an enabler to further economic development. Environmentally, Penang Bay aspires to create viable opportunities for environmental rehabilitation, minimising carbon emissions and preparing for the possibilities of climate change. Work has already started through projects that protect the UNESCO World Heritage site of George Town by rebuilding the seawall that helps to stave off the impacts of climate change. Socially, Penang Bay will generate opportunities for equality and the democratisation of space in the face of social transformation associated with technological and demographic shifts. It will also showcase ways in which cities can be planned to deliver the SDGs through the collective actions of government, private sector and civil society. The SDGs will be the basis of measuring the outcomes and impacts of the various programmes that form Penang Bay. These include the George Town World Heritage Site Seafront, Butterworth Harbourfront, Gurney Wharf, Northern Connector, Jelutong Landfill, Rayston Reclamation and the George Town Creative and Digital District.

Outcomes and Impacts

Increased and equal access to basic services, sustainable mobility and public space (most indicators at outcome level measure institutional outcome), Increased and secure access to land and adequate and affordable housing, Effective settlements growth and regeneration, Improved spatial connectivity and productivity of cities and regions, Expanded deployment of frontier technologies and innovations for urban development, Improved resource efficiency and protection of ecological assets, Effective adaptation of communities and infrastructure to climate change, Resilience

Level of Activity

Local and Regional Government

Lead Entity

Chief Minister Incorporated, Penang State Goverment

Key Dates

Start year: 12/1/2014

Sustainable Development Goals

Goal 3 - Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

Goal 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

Goal 7 - Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

Goal 8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

Goal 9 - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

Goal 10 - Reduce inequality within and among countries

Goal 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Goal 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Goal 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Goal 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development