MYD is organising a UNMC Post COP23 Sharing Session in conjunction with Sustainability Week. This event is parallel with Sustainability goals which is to educate and inform the public on the importance of protecting Mother Earth. In addition, the MYD Post COP23 Sharing Session aims to educate the public on what has occurred during COP23 in Bonn, Germany and to entice UNMC youths to be part of MYD and help our cause.
The speakers will be Lhavanya and Syaqil Suhaimi who is an MYD member studying in UNMC. They have went to Bonn, Germany to attend COP23. The event is free of charge and will be situated inside the Natural History Museum in UNMC (H1B04).
As part of the itinerary in the 9th World Urban Forum, the Malaysian host had arranged several technical visits over the weekend. I chose “Route 2: Urban Solution and Innovation” to learn more about what Kuala Lumpur has done to provide the basic amenities for its residents. In this route, we embarked on a journey to three destinations namely Pantai 2 Regional Sewage Treatment Plant, Sunway City, and the River of Life. This article would focus on the first site – Pantai 2 Regional Sewage Treatment Plant.
Located in Kampung Pantai, the Pantai 2 Regional Sewage Treatment Plant covers a total of 16.16 hectares. The plant is relatively recent that the project only started in 2011, with the Indah Water freshly starting to manage the plant.The CEO mentioned that the plant was built to change the public’s perspective on sewage treatment.
Picture a sewage treatment plant and what do you imagine?
The common things that came up might be smelly, dirty or even some big stretch of water with purpose you have no idea about.
The only word that comes to mind? Eww… (Picture credits- Wikimedia Commons)
Now that is the perception the project aims to change. By shifting most of the plant underground (with the condition of sufficient technology), the remaining space above ground is used as community space currently managed by DBKL. Yes, you’ve heard it right, you can jog, play badminton or host your wedding above a sewage plant. I would say this is a rather effective way of using space while placing communities as the center of the planning. Around the plant houses several low-cost housing, which was painted last year in order to reduce their contrast to the newly built plant and public amenities. We were told that the residents were very excited about the eco-park even before the park was ready. As a step to reduce public stigma against effluents from the sewage plant, an effluent river was designed in the middle of the eco-park for people to be aware that effluent is not smelly or dirty.
Public appreciation in the process of water treatment is necessary to bridge the gap between the collection rate and the operational expenditure. Currently, the gap is covered by the government but Indah Water wishes to close the gap by gain public attention on the sewage treatment through community engagement programs in the eco-park.
Besides the community feature, the plant was completed with an efficiency focus. The main administration building is a green building, powered by the solar panels installed on the car park shades and using water from the rainwater harvesting system. Bio-gas generated from the digestion process is being utilized to produce power that will then feed into the plant. Although this energy only makes up to about 10% of the total power consumption, it is great to see that more green technology features are added to the plant. However, solid sludge is still being disposed of off-site. Although it meets industrial requirements, it is still resources lost that could have been better utilized. The plant is currently seeing ways of improving efficiency and reducing wastage.
We visited the clarifier of the plant, with natural lighting from the glass ceiling. #greenbuilding
Why is the technical visit important?
Although the visit is a very brief visit at the site (we didn’t even go in deep on site), it could be a source of inspiration to people who are looking into a more efficient use of resources while providing basic services to the public. It’s time we rethink our sh*t-ing sewage experience.
As a “trademark” achievement of the global community, the Paris Agreement can be considered as a very important agreement document produced by the international community during COP21. However, many parties face problems in implementation. Even when a country decides to commit to the Paris Agreement, nothing will happen unless action is taken on the ground. Decisions from the international and national level have to be relayed to the local authorities in order for actual work to be done. Cities have to spearhead the action and become a more sustainable and livable place.
From the trend of COP23, it is obvious that more attention has shifted towards community-led actions, diverting from a national level centric approach. This is where cities come in. Cities, being the center of the fight for sustainable development and against climate change, has to promote integrated and sustainable urban planning. Having an intimate connection with the local community, cities are able to understand the needs of the people better and provide better service to the people when integrating climate risks into urban planning and management through policy intervention. Cities have the capacity to attract finance and involve the private sector. They could invest in projects that bring environmental benefit while bringing economic benefit to the local community.
We can look at the example of the Sino-Singapore Tianjin eco-city project that was designed to be practical and replicable, positioned to be a role model for resource efficiency and low emission development. Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, was also able to integrate climate risks into their urban planning process and ensured that community-based adaptation is in place to enhance resilience towards urban flooding.
Around a two-hours’ drive away from Kuala Lumpur lies Malacca, where a sustainable city development takes place. Launched in May 2017, the project has received a grant of 2.7 million US Dollars and 20 million US Dollars in in-kind funding. The project has four components: economic, development, social and smart, aiming to balance each area in the planning of the cities. Through the project, Malacca also worked with World Bank in order to improve its creditworthiness to attract more private investment, hoping to shift the local authorities project monitoring focus from solely federal projects.
Thus far the initial assessment seems promising, with most of the goals reached. However, Malacca does face a rather tricky problem: carbon emission by tourists. According to the initial assessment, Malacca attracts 16 million tourists per year which amounts to 4.3 million tCO2e. With revenue from tourism on one hand and climate impact on the other, the state has to get out from this sticky situation as soon as possible.
The Rapid Assessment of Sustainability Outlook for Malacca was able to run smoothly because it had the support of high-level leadership. The project was proven implementable within a six-months’ time frame and the initial two months are critical in building momentum. A point to note is that emphasis needs to be placed on leveraging existing institutional governance, mobilizing local consultants, and being inclusive of all economic sectors.
As the Paris Agreement reposition cities as a driver of climate action, the importance of cities as a solution towards climate change increased along with more attention from the IPCC. Cities are the stakeholders that could work towards the goal country leaders committed at the international level. However, currently, the gap between the national level and local level is still significant such that a session by the Global Environment. Hopefully, the scene would be better soon.
Sources from session of the 9th World Urban Forum #WUF9
Below are some compilation of youth speak during COP23.
Xiandi and Mike delivered interventions on behalf of YOUNGO, the UNFCCC youth constituency. Xiandi delivered her intervention at the opening of APA 1-4, while Mike delivered his intervention at the closing of the COP.
Syaqil and Jasmin was interviewed by Climate Tracker, an NGO and research body that tracks negotiations at the UN climate change conference, to talk about the importance of youth involvement at COP.
Jasmin and Mike were interviewed for Self Made Future
Aerial view of Hambach coal mine. (Source: Bernhard Lang & Huffington Post)
There were several overarching and predominant themes at COP23. Two of which have been the need for increased ambition pre and post-2020 through NDCs, as well as the rise of non-party stakeholders. A third theme I saw across the two weeks was the conversation on coal.
Firstly, there was the Climate March on the 4th of November, which called for nations to end coal mining and production. Covered by media from all over the world, the march made waves in the news, highlighting the importance for countries to divest from coal and fossil fuels. An estimated 25,000 people attended the march, including a few of us from MYD. It was such an amazing experience and gave us great context into the fight the people of Europe are putting up against their governments and corporations in the battle against climate change.
Secondly, there was the Ende Gelände movement. Before heading to Germany, I hadn’t heard of this movement. Just before and during COP, I was introduced to the movement and the Hambach coal mine. Situated a mere 50 kilometers away from the COP venue in Bonn, Hambach is the largest open-pit coal mine in Europe, emitting the most carbon dioxide in the continent. In addition to an extremely dirty type of coal called lignite, or brown coal, being extracted there, the coal mine has caused the continual degradation of the surrounding area, including the famous Hambach Forest, a 12,000-year old growth forest. Over the past decade, the Hambach Forest has become a symbol for climate change and of Europe’s inability to leave dirty power in the past. Over the two weeks at COP23, the coal conversation was prevalent, especially in highlighting the hypocrisy of Germany’s rhetoric of clean energy, which the Hambach coal mine roars on. The Ende Gelände movement ultimately culminated in a mass protest at the coal mines by a group of 3,500 activist, just a day before the start of COP23.
Jasmin and Syaqil with a native Sarawakian at the Climate March in Bonn.
This brings us to COP23, where two noteworthy coal-related events took place – the promotion of “clean coal” by the Trump administration, and the announcement of the Powering Past Coal Alliance. Hugely publicized, it was well known that the Trump administration did not endorse the traditional US Climate Center that’s a regular at each COP. Instead, there was only one official side-event from the US government, called “The Role of Cleaner and More Efficient Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Power in Climate Mitigation”. Led by the US People’s Delegation, there was a demonstration and walk out that drew massive social media buzz. The Powering Past Coal alliance was announced just before the end of COP23 and consists of Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, New Zealand, Ethiopia, Mexico and the Marshall Islands. The alliance plans to phase out the use of coal by 2030, which many will argue is just not soon or urgent enough, and underlines the hypocrisy and difference between clean energy rhetoric and action on the ground.
Of course, these two events were not directly related to the COP negotiations, but they were definitely strategically planned, taking place literally just a few days before the summit. Some would argue that any event that takes place outside of the negotiations are distractions and don’t help the cause and the fight against climate change, but I would disagree with that opinion. I think that when we talk about climate change, it needs to be from all angles, in a holistic manner. So, while governments are duking it out in the cozy halls of the makeshift COP venue, any kind of protest, demonstration, or march does justice in drawing attention from all over the world and hopefully puts pressure on countries to act on climate change.