A group of 20 delegates from the Indo-Pacific and Southeast Asian region gathered in Taipei from the 11th to 13th of July 2018, as they were set out for learning their negotiating skills learning in Taiwan. Prior to the event, we were warned for the typhoon weather, nevertheless, a majority of the delegates who arrived on the 10th and 11th of July touched down safely. I personally, on the other hand, faced a rollercoaster ride due to turbulence before landing. Eric Zhou’s song managed to soothe my journey to Taiwan.  

As I reached the arrival gate, I saw a paper with my name on held by a guy. He greeted and brought me to the car and I entered the driver’s seat, not knowing that Taiwan drives on the left side – the driver then suggested me to simply sit at the back. On our way to the hotel, I observed cityscape and it was a well-structured, clean, and a modern city.

During the latter part of the day, we were welcomed by the committees for dinner in the hotel. Served with assorted dishes, we were given time to mingle around with other delegates. Interestingly, all the delegates encompassed of graduates and professionals working in governments and private industries having the common interest of climate change. We were given a highlight on the seminar theme and what to prepare for the next day.

The next day comprised of three consecutive seminars on indigenous people and local communities given by Mr. Carlos Fuller, Former Chair, Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); Dr. Ian Fry, Ambassador for Climate Change and Environment, Government of Tuvalu & Lecturer, Australian National University; and Dr. Chien-Te Fan (范建得), Professor, National Tsing Hua University focusing on Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples in the UNFCCC Process; A Negotiator’s Understanding of the Complications for Indigenous Peoples’ Engagement in The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; Indigenous People’s traditional knowledge and climate change-Taiwan’s Perspective respectively.

After a hefty knowledge input by the three amazing speakers, we were headed to a nearby Taiwanese restaurant for dinner. Provided with traditional “bizarre” delicacies like stinky tofu, black chicken, and crunchy salads, I definitely had an exceptional time admiring the dishes. Following the dinner, we had a short group discussion (which was assigned prior to reaching Taiwan) to have an agreement for the plenary statement to be presented the next day. Soon after, I managed to hop on a bus with two of my Philippine delegates to Raohe St. Night Market where we sightseeing the feast Taiwan have.

On the final day of the seminar, a round table for group plenary statement was outset. With made up group names like Little Island Developing States (LIDS), Latin Amnesia Group (LAG), Loosely Aligned Developed Countries (LADC), 4 Kingdoms, AcIrfa Alliance of Nations (AAN), Non-Aligned Group, and G Force, all delegates have one representative to say out their agreed plenary statement. I was lucky to represent Malaysia, United Province of Amnesia as part of LADC to give the statement. Amusingly, this setting was made very much alike to Conference of Parties (COP). As a novice COP person, I was learning so much from preparing and rendering the statement to all. After everyone gave their respective group statements, the round table was put to a halt so the chairman could come to a common wording of the agreement. At the same time, all countries were to discuss the statement and see if the can negotiate with other groups’ requirements. Finally, the chairman will come to discuss the final statement reading every out word until all group agreed to the statement. If everyone agreed, the statement could be finalised, or else in some cases, the discussion would be postponed as what we witnessed in the recurring COP.

The seminar wrapped up with a closing ceremony by the assistant director-general with a group photo. We were then brought to Taipei 101 for a field visit and lunch at the famous Din Tai Fung. Right after the field trip, I was able to join the Taiwan Youth Climate Coalition (TWYCC) for dinner nearby National Taiwan University. I also shared my MYD experience and received inputs from their own preparations and activities. To sum up the Taiwan trip:

1. We work as one.

Working on an agreement with other countries requires give-and-take thus to achieve a collective decision.

2. Everyone has a say.

In this context, indigenous people and local communities were discussed. Inevitably, they play an important role to combat climate change.

3. Dilemma on protecting the indigenous people VS creating a solution

Sometimes when we think that we are producing clean energy, we are actually destroying the indigenous people’s land.

This trip has enhanced my knowledge on negotiating skills in UNFCCC process particularly on indigenous people and local communities comprehensively. I am thankful to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Taiwan for choosing me to be part of the delegates. Also to Malaysian Youth Delegation (MYD) for shortlisting me as part of the final candidate to represent MYD for this seminar.  

Written by Liyana binti Yamin

Edited by Varun

The Indo-Pacific and Southeast Asia Seminar on Climate Change was hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Taiwan and coordinated by National Tsing Hua University. Malaysia Youth Delegation (MYD) was honoured to be invited and hosted by the generosity of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Malaysia.