GET REAL! Climate Change x Food Production x LCOY

GET REAL! Climate Change x Food Production x LCOY

Changes in the world’s climate has, and will continue to bring major shifts in food production. This includes the rise in temperature, increase in rainfall and coastal flooding that reduces the amount of land available for agriculture. In a nutshell, food crops and as it follows, food security, are sensitive to climate change.

After a successful SEEDS Malaysia back in 2014,  it is back this year with the theme “GET REAL”.

This year’s theme could not be more timely – as the world’s population grows at an alarming rate, the increasing demand for food has put a strain on the planet’s resources to cope with feeding billions of people.

The event will be happening on 19th – 21st October 2018 at Oasis Discovery Centre (ODC), Oasis Village.

Throughout SEEDS Malaysia 2018, 2 of these events will be happening concurrently;

–> Conference – Towards Sustainable Real Food 
( tickets here : https://seedsmalaysia2018conference.peatix.com/ )

–> Youth Forum – Climate Change & Real Food Production 
(tickets here : https://seeds2018youthforum.peatix.com/ )  

Together with SEEDS, Power Shift Malaysia will participate as the youth counterpart. The Youth Forum is an event organised by the youth for the youth with the objective of raising awareness about climate change and food production. Topics from food production to youth action on climate change will be discussed throughout the event.

Do you know what is LAGI BEST?! SEEDS is providing sponsorship to those who are really interested to participate in this event! T&C applies.

Sh*t’s About To Get Cooler

Sh*t’s About To Get Cooler

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.

 

Written and Media by Xiandi

Edited by Varun

Cities: A Driving Force to Address Climate Change

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJDt2-q6oT8

Video from the Global Environment Facilities

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

Written by Xiandi

Our Year End Christmas Dinner 2017

Our Year End Christmas Dinner 2017

An evening with a lot of commotion! (PC- Adrian)

On the 20st of December, 2017, the members and alumni from MYD, #PowerShiftMsia and Kem Solusi met the Ganga Cafe, Bangsar for dinner and get together.

After a successful year, with plenty of achievements and milestones reached, including the sending delegates for COP23, the rendezvous was a relaxed and full-filled evening. The meet was the first informal one to happen this year, i.e. with no talk hard-talk on  UNFCCC or any policy related matters. ?

Starting with the cafe, the restaurant was an unique, yet an amazing choice for some sumptuous Indian cuisine. The cafe served both North and South Indian food, with the restaurant being one of my favoured places for Indian delicacies in KL. The location outside the restaurant was calmer in comparison to the hustle within the cafe. 

The dinner event saw the attendees bringing their wrapped gifts, only to be shuffled and exchanged within the members. Initially each person needed to pick one random gift from a pile of gifts and then Thomas read out a mini-story that instructed us to pass on the gift in hand either to the left, right or the member on the opposite direction. Although not all seemed to grasp the story completely, it was unprecedented for many of them to be “passing games” in a long time. Nevertheless, the inquisitiveness made the shuffling much more intriguing, so kudos to Thomas!

Simple yet delicious (PC- Jolene)

A few other games were played on table- Edmund introduced the Reefcheck card game, which enthralled those who had participated and it increased their knowledge and awareness with respect to marine biology and ecosystem. Cards of humanity and Werewolf were other games played that evening with the latter being introduced to many of us for the first time.  

Thanks to all those who could make it _/\_ (PC- Adrian/Jolene)

Thanks to all those who could make it _/\_ (PC- Adrian/Jolene)

The rendezvous was much needed to get to know of our fellow members even better. Having occasional meetups definitely facilitate the sharing of ideas and thoughts with each other. Once again, many thanks to all those from #PowerShiftMsia, MYD and KemSolusi who made the event possible. We wishes everyone good luck for the festive season! 

Written and Edited by Varun

Interventions – Two Minutes of Fame or Something Else?

Interventions – Two Minutes of Fame or Something Else?

“Interventions” – it is one of the buzzwords at the UN climate conference. It’s a word the privileged folk in their fancy fur coats at the UN like to use to confuse the ordinary people (joking). But to break it down, it simply means the delivery of a statement or comment given during negotiations. And in this article, I would like to specifically talk about interventions given by constituencies.

The purpose of these interventions are to involve civil Non-Party Actors in the process of negotiations. Negotiations are only carried out by parties and blocs. Often, it’s a more symbolic act than anything else because there are also other avenues for civil society groups to influence negotiations (read, local NGOs stalking their local negotiators around and questioning them). But it serves as an important exercise for the constituencies to conceptualise their positions on the various issues and for negotiators to be reminded that the world does not revolve around their country and its’ national interests.

How interventions at the Conference Of Parties works, is that the various constituencies of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are given the chance to offer two minute interventions during the negotiations on behalf of their constituency. If you run longer than two minutes, the mic would be cut off. A little bit unfair considering how negotiators are allowed to run on for as long as they like and some of them take a while to get to their point.

Few infographics on what constituencies are can be viewed here.

Within each constituency there are certain ‘house rules’ if one can use that term. RINGO for example prefers to remain non-partisan and does not comment on the party positions per se. Their interventions normally calls on the inclusion of more research, transparency and a consideration of data into the process of negotiations. I am unsure why these constituencies follow such rules. It could be because they are afraid of being too critical for fear they do not get called upon in the future to speak. Or perhaps because of this unspoken agreement that everyone should be as nice and as indirect as possible in these negotiation chambers.

Drafting these interventions are led by small groups of RINGO members, of which a couple volunteers (usually the first ones to volunteer) take charge of it and the entire constituency is free to contribute on google docs, as far as they are willing and able to. Every morning after the RINGO coordination meeting concludes at 10am, a small team of drafters meet up to work on as much of the intervention as possible – a process which I found muc satisfaction in. The art of diplomatic and succinct writing is key in this and I had a challenging but engaging time putting those skills to the test. Subsequently the intervention is carried out in the negotiation chamber by one of the drafting RINGO members, whom is decided upon by consensus by the team working on the document. At one point it boiled down to a game of scissors paper stone between me and another lady because both of us had put in just as much effort and were just as interested in talking. 

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Xiandi giving an intervention on behalf of YOUNGO.

YOUNGO on the other hand, has a slightly different and somewhat more haphazard system of working on interventions. The list of interventions is sent out via email and someone (usually the Focal Point if no one is interested enough) will start up a google doc and people chip in as and when they want to online. The choice of intervention is supposedly carried out by putting the names of all interested people into a hat and getting a random passersby to pick out a name. However for one intervention, one of our fellow delegates who had worked on a substantive amount of the document by herself, was not allowed to speak on behalf of YOUNGO because another Malaysian girl had spoken at another intervention earlier. Therefore representatives of this constituency are not necessarily the ones that drafted the document. A case of equity over equality perhaps.

To be able to give the intervention at the negotiations, is seen as something of a matter of pride, especially to YOUNGOs. Perhaps it is our urge to be recognised and taken seriously despite our youth. Or perhaps the constituency just happens to attract individuals who are more enthusiastic about being in the limelight. There are often many names submitted as speakers (although the number of drafters is considerably smaller). RINGOs too looks forward to delivering interventions as everyone likes their two minute of fame but their preoccupation with this is somewhat less.

Seriously though, if you got to deliver an intervention in the famous Chamber Hall, that would be so cool!

Sometimes individuals wait for hours in the negotiation room for their chance to give their two minute intervention. I heard a senior member of RINGO mention that once a representative had to deliver the intervention at 3am. In our case (the other girl won) the APA closing plenary at which she was to deliver the intervention, got suspended after an hour and only resumed at 7.30 pm. And was then suspended yet again (because parties are unable to arrive at a consensus) and eventually the secretariat decided not to have interventions for that plenary. For the CMP closing plenary, the representatives gave their interventions at 5 am in the morning.

That is the face of a man (Mike) who has gone without sleep, to deliver an intervention. Dedication!

In conclusion, I would say that the system of interventions is important as it highlights the importance of non-party stakeholder interventions in the process of negotiations. However individuals could perhaps be a little less preoccupied with getting their two minutes of fame and focus on delivering a solid, insightful intervention that reflects the views of the constituency as a whole.

Written and Photos by Lhavanya

Edited by Varun

Getting lost at COP23

Getting lost at COP23

COP23 is an easy place to metaphorically and literally get lost at. Especially when you’re a first timer. First there is the issue of two zones which has you clearing security and hopping on the shuttle/ bike/ electric car/ brisk walking multiple times a day to and fro. Add to that the multiple sections per zone and the umpteen rooms and you have a lot of harried looking people running around trying to get to where they are supposed to be.

Bula Zone and Bonn Zone Overview Map

It is a rather picturesque walk/ cycle between the zones though.

I did not think I would get metaphorically lost as much as I did however. Prior to our departure to COP, we prepared through a mixture of self-study, group study sessions and training series. Feeling so ready, I descend on COP23 on my first day, eager and ready to throw myself in and found myself overwhelmed with the sheer volume of activities and negotiations. And amidst the 25 000 or so people who’ve descended on Bonn from all over the world, you feel like a tiny helpless fish. It took some time and effort, falling sick and getting injured to even begin to have a handle on things and to feel like I had a purpose and could contribute in some way.

By the end of Thursday of the first week, I was starting to feel unwell and the next morning I woke up feverish and nausea. I had successfully managed to work myself up and stress myself out over worrying about not accomplishing anything and not understanding enough. Friday became a break day for me, and I focused on writing one of my articles and going over the goals I had set myself to achieve at the COP. I started to realise the advice given by our seniors in MYD to not be too ambitious and which had fallen on deaf ears at that point actually made alot of sense. So I started to revise those goals. Come Saturday, the much awaited Climate Action Network (CAN) Party happened. It was a full night of partying, fun and letting one’s hair down. About 4 am, someone dropped a beer bottle on my foot which shattered. Let’s say I ended that night somewhat lamely (pun intended). Later that day, after getting a few hours of sleep, I awoke in excrutiating pain and could barely walk. The bottle had dropped right ontop of my middle toe. I was so thankful I had been wearing boots or I would have had to deal with a bloody foot too. I started inquiring into whether my travel insurance covered fractured toes. Thankfully by Monday the pain had subsided somewhat thanks to this awesome cream my host had given me and I knew it wasn’t a fracture.

So by Monday I had already found my footing, as best as one can anyway, with a near fractured toe. I found a negotiational track that had meaning for me: Loss and Damage and the Warsaw International Mechanism. Then I limped to my new home at the Research and Independent Non- Governmental Organisations (RINGO) constituency. I found that I enjoyed interviewing people for our FB page. This slower pace my body was forced to take enabled my mind to slow down too and absorb more.

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Lunch sessions with our Malaysian negotiators is crucial to learning and understanding the process of negotiations.

The whispers around the corridor and at the coffee bars said that the Loss and Damage track was not going to be successful and the necessary technical details for the Warsaw International Mechanism would not be discussed sufficiently. However I found this stoked my interest and the divide it was creating between the developing and developed countries was intriguing to observe in the process of negotiations. Negotiators from developing countries were pushing for ironing out how the finances for this element were going to be like while negotiators from developed countries like USA and Australia would deliberately block this.

Drafting interventions was an intensive and tricky exercise in delivering crucial messages concisely and diplomatically. Interventions are an important formalised medium for non-party stakeholders to have a say in the process of negotiations. I worked on four interventions in total, three for the RINGOs and one for the youth constituency called YOUNGO. The interventions were delivered at the opening and closing plenaries of the various tracks. Unfortunately I did not get to deliver any myself in the hall as the other members of the drafting teams that I worked on got the opportunity but I found it to be a very useful learning process and a fun way to meet like-minded people.

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Hard at work drafting an intervention!

Meeting people at COP is a good way to stay grounded by sharing your experiences with each other and learning. I found I was not the only one getting lost, which was immensely reassuring and the people with different backgrounds were able to help me understand, at least a little bit, the UNFCCC and its process from the view of the different stakeholders and parties. I took my task of conducting interviews as a way to bring different voices to the table to spread awareness via social media in Malaysia about climate change and the gravity and urgency of the issue. The process of conducting the interviews and meeting people gave me a sense of purpose as well, in transmitting what I knew back home. I managed to conduct 6 interviews in total, of which 2 have been published so far and the other 4 are work in progress.

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Meeting people from all around the world! Featuring: Germany, Fiji and Sri Lanka.

Overall, the COP23 experience was a great learning tool both personally and professionally and it felt amazing to be able to contribute in some small way to this huge gargantuan process that is attempting to address climate change.

Written by Lhavanya