The Malaysian Youth Delegation hosted the annual Retreat at EPIC Collective over the weekend of the 28th and 29th April 2018. New members were asked to reflect the activities they took part in, what they learned along the way, and what they took away from the experience. Here’s what our new members had to say:

Jeffrey Lee Kai Bo

The Important Relationship of NGOs and the Private Sector to the Climate Change Movement

By: Jeffrey Lee Kai Bo

Throughout the two-day retreat, I had the opportunity to meet new people and learned many new things about MYD and the work they do. I thoroughly enjoyed all the activities, talks and oversaturation of the word “sexy” for the duration of the retreat. However, in writing this reflection, I have decided to focus on one aspect of the entire experience that I found particularly interesting.

On the first day of the retreat, we had a session by Lavanya from WWF Malaysia and Shakila from Cenergi (who represented the private sector). I found the inclusion of a speaker from both an NGO and the private sector to be a remarkable combination in presenting the ideas of climate change. It was interesting for me to see how two people from different backgrounds have rather different methodologies of pursuing the same goal, i.e. one through political activism and the other through corporate incentives. Lavanya’s talk largely focused on the moral responsibilities of recognizing the destruction of climate change on the world. Her points gave me an insight into the inner workings of a more well-established NGO that had more lobbying power. Although in my opinion, the talk by Shakila felt more impactful to me. While her speech did not explicitly state that companies impose environmental-friendly policies for corporate gains, I believe that it is a large factor in why companies do it, and it’s not a bad thing.

From my personal experiences participating in exhibitions both locally and abroad, I have made a conclusion that most private sectors have a strong eye for environmental-friendly products. It is always a running joke within my friend group, that to win an invention competition, one is to just slap a solar panel onto an existing product and call it “innovation”. Theoretically, it shouldn’t work, but yet, it does. Through the conversations I’ve had with the judges from the private sector, there is a corporate incentive for companies to look for new innovations targeting the eco-friendly market. It is a largely new industry that is very promising to potential investors. We have already seen Tesla being the pioneer of this new field. Subsequent commercial success of both the fuel-efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus 350WXB are both perfect examples of how new companies adapt to favor new and efficient technology.

Although the incentive for the adoption of green innovation has always been present, there has always been a force holding back these innovations from taking off. That is, for a greener and eco-friendlier product to take off, it would have to take an old product off the market. This, therefore, poses a problem for more traditional industries that now face the threat of irrelevance. Often times, such companies would lobby the government to impose restrictions on the adoption of these new technologies and spread misinformation about their instability, inefficiency or sometimes danger. This is where the importance of the works of Lavanya and the Malaysian Youth Delegation come into play. NGOs such as the Malaysian Youth Delegation remind the government that it does not serve corporations, rather it serves the very people who gave the government its power. We want the government to stand on our side to force traditional industries to either change their direction or face being replaced.

The role of both NGOs and the private sector should not be overlooked. Together they form the basis of a new and green industrial revolution to take place. Therefore, it is important for co-operation to exist between these two entities. However much they may seem to differ on the surface, they work together to build a better future for the economy and the environment.

Together, NGOs and the private sector form a new and green industrial revolution