GEORGE TOWN: The first step towards saving the world begins with you. That is the life motto of Jasmin Irisha Jim Ilham, an environmental-enthusiast or as she prefers it, “environthusiast”.
The 23-year-old, who is passionate about cycling and the environment, started the Bicycle Project at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC). It is aimed at implementing a bike rental system to nurture a cycling culture among staff and students on campus.
“The idea is to reduce carbon emission on campus and also get people to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
“Bicycles have zero carbon emission. And it may even get you to your destination faster than a car because you will never get stuck in traffic,” said Jasmin, who rides “Beatrice” – her trusty green-and-black mountain bike – everywhere.
It was either that or the public bus, she laughed, adding that she never took up driving.
“I’m trying to reduce the amount of waste I contribute to the landfill,” said the environmental science graduate.
Jasmin wanted to start the project after attending a five-week programme at the East-West Center of the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2014 during her freshman year.
“In university, there were many cyclists… and there were also many keen to cycle, but they did not have a bicycle.
“In the United States, I saw that many universities had bike-sharing systems… and they all started with just that one person who put in that extra effort,” said Jasmin.
Upon returning, she pitched the idea to her university management, only to face rejection upon rejection.
“But, persistence is key, and UNMC finally agreed to launch an electric bike-sharing system this year,” she said, eyes wild with joy.
Currently, Jasmin actively engages the youth in environmental initiatives via talks on the environment, climate change and cycling.
From bringing her own 6oz coffee cup to “tapau” her daily caffeine needs to recycling, Jasmin believes that people should fight for a greener environment within their own capacity.
“It can be as simple as bringing your own takeaway containers or not using drinking straws. I know straws seem like a small thing but it’s really not,” she said when met at Universiti Sains Malaysia here, where she is a research assistant.
She said she avoided straws after watching a video of a turtle that had a straw stuck up its nostril.
“My heart broke when it started bleeding profusely as the straw was being pulled out… the turtle does not deserve that,” she said, her face crumpling.
Jasmin is also involved in environmental-related initiatives; her most recent being a youth delegate to the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Marrakech, Morocco, in December last year.
For two weeks, Jasmin and four other youth delegates shadowed Malaysian negotiators and observed the landmark negotiation process at the conference, which was also attended by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar and his team.
Jasmin wants to empower Malaysian youth to be at the forefront in the fight for a sustainable Malaysia.
“There are so many policies but who will carry them out if not us, the youth?
UNMC students represent Malaysia at Malaysian Youth Delegation to COP22
Jasmin Irisha Jim Ilham and Dulanga Witharanage from The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC) have been selected to be part of the Malaysian Youth Delegation 2016 (MYD 2016) at the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Marrakech, Morocco due to be held from 7 to 18 November 2016.
COP22 provides an important platform for nations to build on the landmark agreement secured at the COP21 in Paris last December.
Both Jasmin and Dulanga, who are from the Faculty of Environmental and Geographical Sciences, had to undergo a rigorous application process to be selected as part of MYD 2016. Shortlisted applicants were required to go through an interview session, where they were questioned deep into their understanding and knowledge of climate change, the Paris Agreement and UNFCCC. Applicants were finally shortlisted taking into consideration their academic merits and achievements, as well as their contributions towards community and environmental initiatives.
Jasmin and Dulanga are representatives of MYD and will be observing the negotiation process whilst shadowing the Malaysian negotiators alongside two other youth candidates from Malaysia. Jasmin and Dulanga’s participation is funded by UNMC.
They are expected to take part at the Conference of Youth 12 (COY12) from 4 to 6 November, where they will join youth from across the globe to address climate change and promote sustainable lifestyles. The main focus of this year’s COY is on the ‘Role of Education and Empowering Youth to take action on Climate Change and to bring about Positive Change in Society’.
Last year, UNMC students, Emily Oi, Jolene Journe Tan and Thomas Lai Yoke Hwa represented Malaysia at COP21.
“Nottingham students will be representing Malaysia at this important global conference. We are very happy to support students to attend COP22 for the second year. We recognise the important contribution that they are able to make in the area of climate change and we hope that they benefit from attending the conference,” said Professor Graham Kendall, CEO and Provost of UNMC.
“We look forward to represent UNMC at COP22. Issues relating to climate change have never been more important and pertinent globally which needs to be addressed urgently. More youth should be motivated to address climate change that affects humankind; regardless of country, religion and social background,” said Dulanga whilst stating that she is very appreciative of UNMC for giving her this opportunity.
“The Malaysian Youth Delegation will be the voice of the Malaysian Youth at COP22. We eagerly look forward to use this platform to engage in this global agenda after having been exposed to relevant issues during our studies. We are very grateful to UNMC for sponsoring us, and all our family and friends for supporting us” said Jasmin.
(Image caption: Jasmin (left) and Dulanga at the 5th Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum in Sri Lanka)
Why is climate change important to you? Why are you at the COP?
I graduated from University of Nottingham in Malaysia with a degree in Environmental Sciences. I started my interest in climate change by getting involved with local NGOs, youth organizations, school projects, and volunteer programs in my country. I am really interested in seeing how science interacts with policy in dealing the problem of climate change. As a youth representative of my country, I believe youth is an important part in getting involved with climate solutions, and I am hoping to see the impact of youth in dealing with climate issues.
– Jasmin Irisha Jim Ilham (left)
I am a fourth year student at [the] University of Nottingham in Malaysia, but I am originally from Sri Lanka. What got me into climate change was that my parents were naturalists–my mother was a bird watcher–and I grew up being influenced by them. Currently, I am conducting research on the relationship among elephants, humans, and climate change in Malaysia and Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has the densest population of elephants. In certain areas in Sri Lanka, there are more elephants than humans. Because of the big flood in Sri Lanka last year, elephants started coming to villages near their natural habitats and competing resources with humans, which became a huge problem in my country as a result of climate change.
– Dulanga Witharanage (right)
by Jennnie Sun http://climate.emorydomains.org/cop22/humans-of-cop22-youth-delegates-from-malaysia/
GETTING HEARD: Two students share what they learnt at climate change conference
HOW we take care of the environment determines the state of our lives on this planet in the future.
For the young, it is especially important to take note of this and participate in ensuring a sustainable future for all, enthused Jasmin Irisha Jim Ilham, 22, and Dulanga Witharanage, 23.
Fresh from being part of the Malaysian Youth Delegation 2016 (MYD 2016) at the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Marrakech, Morocco last month, the recent Environmental Science graduate and the final-year BSc (Hons) degree in Environmental Science student from the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC), respectively, have ambitions to help amplify the voice of youth movements in climate change through education and mobilisation in the country.
“People know little about climate change and that it is a huge problem. Climate change is a large-scale, long-term shift in the planet’s weather patterns or average temperatures due to greenhouse gas emissions among others and impacts all aspects of life. So, there is a need to create a greater awareness among youths and rev up capacity building in this area,” said Dulanga.
“It is important that youths’ voices are heard on issues in this area. If you have interest in passion about community, society and climate change, there are a lot of platforms to work from and a lot of opportunities to be involved in activities that address climate change,” said Jasmin.
COP22 provided an important platform for nations to build on the landmark Paris Agreement (CMA 1) agreement secured at the COP21 in Paris last December. The Conference successfully demonstrated to the world that the implementation of the Paris Agreement is underway and the constructive spirit of multilateral cooperation on climate change continues.
As representatives of MYD, Jasmin and Dulanga observed the negotiation process at the conference whilst shadowing the Malaysian negotiators alongside three other youth delegates from Malaysia. They also took part at the Conference of Youth 12 (COY12) from Nov 4 to 6 where they joined youths from across the globe to address climate change and promote sustainable lifestyles. The main focus of this year’s COY is on the “Role of Education and Empowering Youth to take action on Climate Change and to bring about Positive Change in Society”.
Jasmin, who hails from Ampang in Selangor, and Dulanga, who is from Colombo, Sri Lanka, started their journey to COP22 six months earlier when they took part in a rigorous application process that required shortlisted MYD applicants to go through an interview session, where they were questioned deep into their understanding and knowledge of climate change, the Paris Agreement and UNFCCC. Applicants were shortlisted taking into consideration their academic merits and achievements, as well as their contributions towards community and environmental initiatives.
With a background of being actively involved in various environmental-related initiatives, her most recent being UNMC Bicycle Project, of which she also founded the UNMC Cycling Club, and alumna of the East-West Center, Hawaii where she earned her Certificate in Institute on Environment under the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) programme, Jasmin made the cut.
As did Dulanga who interned with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Wetlands International while following her degree in Malaysia. Dulanga viewed being a part of MYD 2016 as an opportunity to voice her ideas for Malaysia.
Upon being selected, Jasmin and Dulanga underwent five training series, two international knowledge transfer events, a Youth Statement, numerous engagements with organisations, stakeholders and the government to be prepared for the conference.
“At COP22, when going about our tasks we took seriously that we represented youth in Malaysia. We took the information that we gathered and shared it online with peers and people in Malaysia,” said Dulanga.
“We also got involved in the Malaysia Pavilion — a physical platform for Malaysia to showcase the country’s initiatives related to environment and climate change — and as a place to host presentations, dialogues and meetings with national delegates or guests,” Jasmin shared.
Now that they are back in Malaysia, the work does not stop for Dulanga and Jasmin. Together with the MYD group, they will be working on organising a Post-COP22 Forum next month.
“We need to work together more as Malaysians. To address things globally, we have to act locally. We need a collaborative effort involving the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, NGOs, youth, businesses to handle climate change issues. Stress on sustainable capacity building and with follow-through, we have more potential to harness in our country,” said Jasmin.
“At COP22, I saw how developed countries invest in youths and capacity building. Our governments and people need to be more interested in climate change. There’s a lot that we have to do,” said Dulanga.