High Level Meeting on Climate Resilience

High Level Meeting on Climate Resilience

This is Maldives. One of the 48 Island Countries that are prone to climate-induced disasters. They are small and fragile. Inhabited with 345,023 people. Adapted from Google Map.

Maldives: One of the Small Island States that are vulnerable to climate-induced disasters. They are small and fragile. Inhabited with 345,023 people (World Bank, 2013). Image Adapted from Google Map (2016)

It was yesterday’s High Level Meeting on Climate Resilience that sparked my interest of wanting to understand climate change impacts on small islands, least developed countries (LDCs) and African Countries and the importance of Paris Agreement to these countries.

“We are learning from our failures. Most of our initiatives come from our hard lessons. Politically and physically. More towards physical i.e. climate induced disasters.” says, Ban Ki Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations.

According to IPCC and other scientific studies, climate change impacts are growing and heavily affecting small islands and least developed countries. For instance the islanders are suffering from sea level rise, salt-water encroachment onto their fertile soil, ocean acidification, depletion of marine food source, coral reefs’ destruction and many more.

On the other hand, least developed countries such as African continent are experiencing huge challenges in the area of water, agriculture, health, coastal and preservation of biodiversity due to the impacts of climate change.

“As a Pacific Island nation, we are forced to adapt to climate change not by choice but necessity. For us, capacity building is our priority challenge. Talk about being climate resilience. What does climate resilience mean to the small island? Resilience means to build better livable island. How are we going to adapt to this while we are eroding. What we are facing already since 2011 to 2015 is the warmest period on the record. This year is the hottest weather ever.”says, Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa.

He further explained his concern over the sea-level rise. According to third conference of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Samoa, it is reported there is an estimation of sea-level rise up to four times the global average and this continues to be the most pressing threat to their environment and socio-economic development with annual losses at the trillions of dollars due to increased vulnerability.

In the meeting, Samoa and other island nations agreed to support Paris agreement if they recognize the vulnerability of the islands and warrant protection.

For small islands and LDCs, Paris agreement is essential as these are vulnerable countries with minimal resources compared to most of us living on the land that are thousand times larger. Aiming for ‘1.5 degree Celsius’ is crucial for them to ensure survivability of their people. Tuvalu countrymen put high hope on Paris agreement. If there is no global action today (in reference to Paris Agreement), 75% of its people would want to leave Tuvalu. (There are only 9,876 people inhabiting in Tuvalu! source: World Bank, 2013).

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt’s president defends Africa’s interest on climate change. The cost of putting Africa to low carbon growth is no less than $USD 12 billion dollars a year until 2020. African continent lacks the means and resources that will boost their economic development. Hence, Africa emphasized the urgency of adaptation with due consideration of huge challenges in this regard where, adaptation is part of global responsibility.

During this high level meeting, Netherlands agreed to contribute directly of Euro 50 million to climate resilience projects for small island states and LDCs whereas German has contributed Euro 1 billion worldwide on climate resilience projects.

Written by: Jolene Journe T.

Climate Innovators: Empowering a Global Generation of Young People

Climate Innovators: Empowering a Global Generation of Young People

Young people like me and you. What can we do and how can we be empowered to get ourselves more involved in climate-related initiatives and to bring forth such empowerment to intergenerational scale?

Today, I have decided to attend this dialogue known as “Empowering a Global Generation of Young People”, a side event in COP21.

Side Event at COP21: Empower Global Younger Generation of Young People

Empowering a Global Generation of Young People


Highlights from Guy Ryder, a director-general of International Labour Organization

According to Ryder, in today’s world, there are ⅓ unemployment in the world are youth and parts of them lose their jobs due to the impacts of climate change. Yet, the climate impacts of today are not their responsibility but they are the ones bear most of the problems.

So, how can we improve this?

Ryder highlighted if we want to achieve low carbon societies, closing the gap with the skills we have and we need are priority for policy makers. He then maintained governments, employers and workers should come together to find ways to empower and enable the youth to use their spirit of innovation and creativity to produce the responses they need.

“It is imperative for us to look to the future, to empower youth to build areas of education that promotes creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.” said Ryder.

For instance, enterprises are encouraged to provide trainings to young people to become a solar technician and thus to increase skilled forces that promote clean energy. Also, he emphasized the importance of promoting, enhancing and endorsing climate education and trainings to young people as they are the people that need to adapt to uncertainties of climate in the future.

Highlights from Kabiito Denis, an agronomist/farmer in Uganda

Moderator: You are a young farmer yourself. What keeps you farming? A lot of people leaving farming for “greener pastures”

Dennis: In African context, many people leave agriculture because it stems from our family. My mom was a housewife and a poultry farmer. She always tell me to “go get a better job. Farming is tedious. Farming is for uneducated people like us.”

After coming from school as a young agronomist. I have that passion of farming. You can’t give advice to people unless you get your hands here. From doing it now, I can experience, if the season is unpredictable. I can get tailor made solutions because I can interact with nature and connect with the rural communities and bring them into one society all along the agricultural chains. I want to inspire. In most of Africa, we have young people who likes agriculture. It interest people from cities to head back to rural areas. We can help to develop rural areas via climate smart production. If we have good industry in production. We can attract back the youth.

Moderator: What is holding youth back? What would young people to claim that space?

Dennis: They are facing problem and they are not in the decision making process. They can’t move on. Youth have not been involved in other activities where elders are doing and this make them shy away. Making lesser income shy them away. The youth will shy away if income is low. Unless we increase the productivity. Having a decent life and agricultural product in the changing climate will attract youth.

Traditional system and lack of quality education. We are not part of the decision making process which will hinder us to become the agent of the change. We need this part and the system need to include us so we can fully be able to extend our capabilities, skill to get in.

Highlights from Vincent Bryant, Founder of Deepki

Moderator: Vincent, you are in the arena of startups, entrepreneurship, technologies. Can you share with us your opinion on empowering the young people?

Vincent: Let’s imagine you are living in 19th century in USA. You go to Pennsylvania to get decent amount of oil and earn dollars. Some of you will find, some of you would not. Two engineers will let you know where to find the oil based on geological analysis.

Today, story is not about oil but clean energies and “Big Data”. The First ingredient is “Data”. I believe you have all the data to promote energy efficiency.

Second ingredient is Predictive models. We built predictive model to resolve research on how much energy can be saved via a building and imply it to similar buildings. As a student, I am proud of using big data to put constriction of carbon footprint on campus and people. The government are not fast in doing so. Five most consumption measures can be measured from the existing datas.

Today, we have 17 employees (Average age: 29) in this 15 months old company. It is the value you create that is valuable will attracts the youth today. You create value to improve their comfort and save their expenses. It is easier to spread the word to other organization. I spend a lot of time meeting young people who has desire to work on meaningful topic. Not to work for regular industry who does not understand where the money go. If there is a desires, it is powerful to change people’s behavior and speed up the energy transition.

Highlights from Rogie Nichole Aquino, Sole4Souls Philippines

On the other hand, Rogie Nichole Aquino, a 20 years old youth from The Philippines is one of the youth who managed to put words into action. Rogie believes in taking action NOW than later. He made a recommendation in UNESCO to initiate his own projects (e.g. Sole4Souls initiative) in his home country as he hopes to inspire his fellow Filipinos.

Moderator: As a youth, What drives you to take action?

Rogie: Guilt. Youths are reckless. We do not know the affects that we do until the result is in front of us. Then, we will think “why didn’t I pursue this path?” After the guilt stage, I feel motivated to take the action as we need to start now. If not now, when? We all are the agent of change. We all have this responsibilities to make this happen.

Hence, we need to be Open-Minded: Do not stick to what we have done before. We need to be innovative, unity, work with all stakeholders and not to be stuck in the old way like how Governments in The Philippines – where they are stuck with their old political system with big main ideas that disregard others. We also need to stay committed in what we do. We all have the responsibility. We should all act now.

Closing of the event:-

The closing of this event is the most inspiring one when Veteran Negotiator – Former Minister at Republic of Congo arrived later to share his opinion on empowering young people.

H.E. Henri Djombo, Republic of Congo:

“Age does not define the keen sense of responsibility. Some kids mature later. You have old people stay young in their mind. Notions of young and old are subtle. This is the result of their education. They will always committed to causes. Educate the young. We have to support and empower them. It is not about the environment but also education. Give  them the tools they need.”

Written by: Jolene Journe T.

A Skype session with Leonardo da Vinci High School, Potsdam, Germany

A Skype session with Leonardo da Vinci High School, Potsdam, Germany


Students from Leonardo da Vinci High School, Potsdam, Germany.

We “scuttle” our way to YOUNGO room to have a skype session with a group of high school youths from Germany!

I panicked and became anxious as I stared at my brightly lit laptop screen. I did not know what to share. Thoughts that were running in my head.

My experiences at COP21? I think everything happened in the blink of an eye. My first week was somewhat confusing owing to many negotiations and side events were occurring concurrently, there were just too many things to focus on at one time. I was excited but was quickly drained out as well.

Nonetheless, I am glad that we were able to have a quick conversation with the high school youths. They inspired me with their enthusiasm and curiosity; a strong desire to learn something. For me, it is the curious mind that inspires humanity; to transcribe dreams into reality. With curious mind, born the vision to build sustainable dreams on this ever so realistic earth.

Sharing some of my COP21 experiences here:-

  • COP21 – encompasses of UN team, negotiators, civil society organizations and youth! Youth are the catalyst. They are the one that can help to fill the gap and build a network that connects and holds stakeholders together. These actions can be direct, i.e. MYD member recent participation in giving interventions on behalf of the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) during SBSTA Closing Plenary or subtle i.e. MYD members direct engagement with some of our Malaysian negotiators throughout the whole COP21. Throughout the COP21, MYD has organized several impromptu meetups with our negotiators and Malaysian CSOs to strengthen the bond and to understand the UNFCCC process.
  • Climate mobilizations do make an impact! At COP21, YOUNGO is an official youth constituency under UNFCCC. Youth from various organizations including MYD members are given the opportunity to participate their daily meetings and action working groups to coordinate mobilizations actions in COP21. Thanks to their consistent lobbies along with other CSOs in COP21, strong scientific evidences and pressures from the vulnerable countries throughout negotiation processes; the world manage to set new REAL temperature targets in the latest adopted Paris Agreement – to limit the global warming by 2 degree Celsius and aiming for 1.5 degree Celsius.
  • Active Climate Actions all year round! If you want to make a change, it requires persistence. You need to keep pursuing what you believe with sensibility. Every great work sparks from your own desire to explore. Then, your choices to search for like-minded people or projects within your community

MYD team was formed in June 2015 and we were given 6 months of preparatory journey to COP21. Throughout the 6 months, MYD has successfully organized a training series with various experts from various backgrounds (e.g. climate scientists, Malaysia’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, climate journalists, CSOs, policymakers, etc) at Malaysia. We also proudly produced and submitted our Youth Statement on Climate Change towards COP21 to our Prime Minister. As a team, we are able to establish our presence at local, regional and international climate events such as Power Shift Malaysia, Asean Power Shift at Singapore and Conference of Youth (COY11) at Paris.

These are just several experiences we have thus far. For post-COP21, MYD members are ready to engage and share their COP21 experiences with their people back home in hope to educate the public and raise another team of youth to understand climate science and policy as well as the infamous UNFCCC process.

In my opinion, effective teamwork and continuous engagement with all stakeholders intergenerationally are essential in order to make bigger impacts on combating climate change.

Hence, thank you students of Leonardo da Vinci High School for giving us this opportunity to share our experiences with you via Skype and vice versa. I hope we can hear more from our readers too! If you have any climate initiatives’ experiences / collaborations you want to share with us. Email to us powershiftmsia@gmail.com and we are happy to engage!

Written by: Jolene Journe Tan.

The Declaration on Agricultural Diversification

The Declaration on Agricultural Diversification

On 7th December 2015, The ceremony of “The Declaration of Agricultural Diversification” was held at Paris in conjunction with Paris COP21. The ceremony was graced by The Honourable Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, former Prime Minister of Malaysia and YABhg Tun Jeanne Abdullah with an aim to address one of the most pressing issues to humanity – food security.

The Honourable Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, former Prime Minister of Malaysia and YABhg Tun Jeanne Abdullah officiated the Declaration of Agricultural Diversification

The Honourable Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, former Prime Minister of Malaysia and YABhg Tun Jeanne Abdullah officiated the Declaration of Agricultural Diversification

The event was a success and it was also graced by several honorable mentions including Dr. Sayed-Azam Ali, CEO of Crops for the Future (CFF); Dr. Trevor Nicholls, Chief Executive of Centre of Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI); Dr. David Molden, director general of International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development; Dr. José Joaquín Campos A. Director General of Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) and Dr. Setta Tutundjian, Director of Partnerships & Knowledge Management, International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), UAE.

It was 11,500 thousand years ago, we were once the hunters and foragers of the earth. We evolved and moved to an agricultural way of living that lead us to industrialization and green revolution. All these advancement lead to the unprecedented growth of human population and global greenhouse emissions that were projected to increase beyond the “safe limit” of 2 degree celsius targeted by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Food security is a pressing issue when it comes with climate change. A hotter climate requires more resilient agriculture, food security, enhanced nutrition, environmental sustainability, shared knowledge and poverty alleviation.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda (SDA 2030) has provided a framework for sustainable development via 17 Sustainable Development Goals and many of which relate to agriculture. As yet, there is no plan on how agricultural diversification can contribute to the SDA 2030 for our future climate.

Today, Prof. Sayed Azam-Ali showed us how CFF helps to meet the needs of a hotter world and contribute to SDA which can be done via Global Action Plan for Agricultural Diversification (GAPAD). The purpose of GAPAD is to address the following specific SDGs including:-

  • SDG 2: Zero Hunger
  • SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13: Climate Action
  • SDG 15: Life on Land
  • SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals

As we learn that half of our diet comes from four major food crops including wheat, rice, maize and soybean, we also learn that these food crops are grown in a limited number of exporting countries which rely heavily on the high utilization of fertilizers and irrigation. Monoculture is not the solution to address food security, we need diversification.

In addition, when climate changes, people will look to mountains for food security and biodiversity. Animals and plants are migrating when the earth gets hotter. Mountain provides diverse physiology and endemic crops with huge amount of traditional knowledge. Sadly, these treasures are rapidly being replaced with major staple foods. Hence, there is a need of shifting to higher yields of mountain products starting now.

So far, we have identified half a million plant species on the planet and introduced a diversifying agricultural system that will help to strengthen the climate resilient platform for local markets, consumers and producers.

During the declaration, Dr. Trevor Nicholls has highlighted the importance of having agricultural diversification in Africa and South-East Asia regions as agriculture is their main source of income. The common challenges faced by farmers in these regions include lack of climate smart technologies to address new pests and diseases, and availability of fertile soil and water. For him, diversification is a risk mitigation measure. It diversifies one’s diet, and improves one’s income and reduces climate risks.

Dr. David Molden has also highlighted the importance of agricultural diversification in mountain regions especially Afghanistan, India, Myanmar, Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal and China. The highlands in these regions are the largest reserves of ice and snow which generate freshwater that helps to sustain 1.3 billion people living downstream. Notably, there are 3 to 4 billion people relying on these water sources for food production and diversification of agriculture shows to bring more opportunities for women in the mountains as a new source of income.

After listening to the experts, I wonder if we would still have any opportunity to choose in the future if we want to “Eat to Live or Live to Eat”?

“Today, agricultural diversification should not be seen as a choice but a necessity in the future. Climate resilient farming is the future.” – Dr. David Molden.

“Half of the species in the world have helped our ancestors to survive till now. Feeding the hotter world is very timely. We are convinced the benefits of this declaration, for the world” – Dr. Setta

In the end, I could not agree more with Dr. David Molden and Dr. Setta closing statements.

MYD members in support of The Declaration of Agricultural Diversification with The Honourable Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, former Prime Minister of Malaysia and YABhg Tun Jeanne Abdullah.

MYD members in support of The Declaration of Agricultural Diversification with The Honourable Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, former Prime Minister of Malaysia and YABhg Tun Jeanne Abdullah.

Written by: Jolene Journe T.

Developed vs Developing Countries on CBDR

Developed vs Developing Countries on CBDR

Prof. Gurdial on CBDR

Prof. Gurdial on CBDR

Prof. Gurdial, Malaysian negotiator spoke on behalf of Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDCs), has grabbed attention and applause for defending the rights of developing countries (mainly CBDR-RC). In 1992, the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) establishes a principled basis for differential treatment of countries in the global climate regime with its core principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” (CBDR-RC). The UNFCCC explicitly notes, immediately following its statement of the CBDR-RC principle, that “Accordingly, the developed country Parties should take the lead in combating climate change and the adverse effects thereof.”

LMDCs emphasized on the importance of having developed countries to fulfil their obligations, historical responsibilities, and accept countries’ differentiation and equity in global climate regime.

“On behalf of LMDC, we know you will not be persuaded by our speech. World changed, but historical emission does not change. Developed countries become prosperous because of historical carbon burning. The division of rich and poor has not change. Half of the world population are represented by LMDCs. Two-third of poverty is also our situation. We need convention that impose these realities. Acknowledge historical realities and differentiation” – Prof. Gurdial

The world has always been changing but developed countries have failed to fulfil the obligations imposed themselves especially in reference to Kyoto Protocol and contributions to Green Climate Fund that has been agreed to jointly mobilize USD 100 billion per year by 2020.  As of November 2015, the Green Climate Fund has only successfully raised USD 10.2 billion equivalent in pledges from 38 countries.

Part 2: Post-COP21 Reflection on CBDR-RC

After the two weeks of intense negotiations and strong advocacy from various party groups like LMDCs, Least Developed Countries (LDCs), G77 and China, African Groups, Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) and other vulnerable and developing countries; the adopted Paris Agreement has showed the inclusion of CBDR-RC in finance and capacity building.

For instance,

Article 9.1 states developed country Parties “shall” provide financial resources to assist developing country Parties with respect to both mitigation and adaptation in continuation of their existing obligations under the Convention.

Article 9.2 Other Parties are “encouraged” to provide or continue to provide such support “voluntarily.”

Article 13.9 Developed country Parties “shall”, and other Parties that provide support “should”, provide information on financial, technology transfer and capacity-building support provided to developing country Parties under Article 9, 10 and 11.

However when it comes to “mitigation”, CBDR-RC is not clearly defined.

Article 4.4 Developed country Parties “should” continue taking the lead by undertaking economy-wide absolute emission reduction targets. Developing country Parties should” continue enhancing their mitigation efforts, and are encouraged to move over time towards economy-wide emission reduction or limitation targets in the light of different national circumstances.

It seems like rich and developed countries are not obligated to be responsible for economy-wide absolute emission reduction targets and there are no mentions in the text on responsibility of “historical emissions” or to “Annex I and non-Annex countries” – which is quite a victory for them as they insist everyone should be responsible on combating climate change. However, these issues I believe will be resurface again probably when the agreement take its effect in 2020.

Nonetheless, there is victory for developing countries as well in successfully maintaining CBDR-RC in some areas of the agreement such as finance and capacity building but not mitigation.

Written by: Jolene Journe T.