The Malaysian Youth Delegation hosted the annual Retreat at EPIC Collective over the weekend of the 28th and 29th April 2018.
A month prior to the Retreat, a recruitment process consisting of an array of online applications and interviews were held to provide an opportunity for climate change enthusiasts to be part of the 2018 batch of MYD. Shortlisted applicants were invited to the Retreat where they participated in group activities and learnt in-depth on MYD activities.
Being invited to the Retreat did not mean automatic acceptance into MYD2018. Little did the participants know that the facilitators were surveilling them – not in a creepy way, of course! They were monitored on their level of participation and interaction with each other.
The first day kicked off with a brief introduction and ground rules to get everyone on the same page. Then, Emily conducted the good ol’ ice-breaking session. To make it slightly more fun (besides telling their names and what they do), Emily asked each person to grab the first thing they saw, and then describe themselves based on the item.
For the second ice-breaking round, the participants were split into groups of 4 or 5. Each group were given a few random words with which they had to create a story. All of us certainly got some good laughs listening to their imaginative stories!
The participants were then pulled into the world of UNFCCC by none other than the Head of Policy and Climate Change Department at WWF-Malaysia, Ms. Lavanya Rama Iyer. Besides a brief intro on what’s UNFCCC and how the Paris Agreement came about, Lavanya also shared Malaysia’s role in all of it. The participants were pretty active in asking questions and putting their thoughts out, which was a GOOD SIGN!
What better way to digest all of the information than with lunch! Our MYD member, Daniel and his colleague at EPIC, prepared bihun for lunch (with a vegan option included!). EPIC Collective had this huge island table with quirky overhead light bulbs in the pantry that was impeccable for communal meals.
The next session was a rather informal sharing session by our MYD member, Thomas. With just the whiteboard and a marker pen, sifu Thomas masterminded us through the History of UNFCCC: Past, Present and Future – from 1972 to 2023.
As Thomas was ending his presentation, MYD had an unexpected person dropping by to say hi – and it was none other than the founder himself, Mr Adrian Yeo! Since he came all the way despite his busy schedule, MYD decided to give him some space in the itinerary to speak (lol). Adrian was invited to the front to give a few words. He laid out what MYD was from his perspective, what the participants could expect from joining MYD and what he hoped MYD could achieve this year.
MYD invited another guest, Ms. Shakila, the Head of Sustainability at Cenergi SEA Sdn Bhd, to enlighten us about Climate Policy and its relationship with the energy sector. She first gave an overview of how the Paris Agreement was negotiated and why the energy sector was important to keep the 2-degree pathway. According to her, stakeholder engagement was crucial in implementing the Paris Agreement and besides the relevant government agencies, corporations in the green energy business would also be required to participate in discussions. Based on the 2016’s national energy profile, renewable energy contributed to not more than 2% of the total energy supply. So there’s still a long way to go for mainstreaming renewable energy in Malaysia!
For tea break, Daniel’s colleague kindly brought in two jugs of Bubur Kacang. A wonderful concoction of coconut milk, mung beans, sweet potato and palm sugar.
At 5pm when it should’ve been nap time, Azam with his contagious charisma got everyone to play a game. For this team bonding session, each team were given only two items: newspaper and a roll of tape. They had to create a sturdy house that can resist or adapt to climate change. Each house were then subjected to three tests: earthquake (aggressive shaking of the table), hurricane (aggressive fanning of a newspaper) and landslide (hitting of the house with a bag full of balled up newspaper).
The second game was more of a memory test. Each team was given 30 logos of local and international environmental organizations and bodies. They were then tasked to arrange the logos in the exact order as specified in an answer sheet. The trick was that this answer sheet was placed outside the room. From each team, only one member could run outside to look at the logo arrangement and return with the patterns in their head. They then had to arrange the logos on their table to match what they remembered from the sheet outside. Although not an easy task for one person to memorize the order in which 30 logos were arranged, with the teamwork of several people working concurrently, teams managed to pull the game off in under 10 minutes! We then spent the next half an hour going over what the logos represented and the functions of the organizations.
Dinner and Movie
We proceeded with dinner (with vegan-friendly option, of course!) and concluded the night with a movie screening of Before the Flood, a documentary on climate change starring Leonardo DiCaprio, a longtime environmental activist who advocates on the urgency of the current planetary crisis, addressing accelerating climate change, unprecedented loss of biodiversity and the increase in human health issues due to anthropogenic induced activities.
When most people were sleeping in on a calm Sunday morning, the facilitators and the retreat participants were already devouring breakfast at 8.30am. Breakfast was proudly catered by our MYD member, Phoenix, through her “Strip Club” social enterprise dedicated to food and nutrition security in the face of climate change. With the help of her dad, Phoenix prepared two types of delicious, vegan-friendly sandwiches – peanut butter & fresh banana sandwich, and caramelised onion & mushroom sandwich. Guess which one was the majority’s favourite?
The first session of the day was a presentation by our MYD member, Jasmin, on the Role of Youth in UNFCCC. She gave a brief introduction of the role and dynamics of the Malaysian Youth Delegation within the UNFCCC framework, especially under the YOUNGO constituency. Jasmin added in her experience contributing towards opportunities under YOUNGO such as writing intervention, as well as her involvement in different working groups.
The second team bonding session of the Retreat was the infamous “Toilet Agreement”, or as Thomas put it – The Pangsai Agreement. Long story short, the objective of the session was to come up with an agreement within a timeframe to fix a hypothetical broken toilet.
The aim of this session was to imitate the UNFCCC’s negotiation process, or to put it simply, a mini COP simulation. The ultimate objective was to let the participants experience and understand the negotiation process and the power play between developed and developing countries. Generally, when it comes to climate change negotiations, political will and science are equally important.
Next up was the sharing session by MYD Buddies. Essentially, MYD2017 members shared a bit more about their overall experience being in MYD i.e. what they did pre-COP, during COP and post-COP. The point of this session was to show the participants what it actually means to be part of MYD so that they may decide themselves on how much and how far they want to contribute for MYD2018.
After the MYD Buddies sharing session, every participant shared their thoughts on the Retreat as a whole and how they saw themselves in MYD or how they would like to learn from being in MYD. Suffice to say, the participants were keen to be involved with MYD and ready to contribute their various talents and skills.
Well, let’s just see how far they’ll go!
Written with grace by Diyana, Jasmin, Mike, Thomas and Kelvin
Edited with the meme by Varun