Indigenous People in Climate Change- when tradition meets modern life

Indigenous People in Climate Change- when tradition meets modern life

A visit to the Asia Indigenous People Pact (AIPP) booth in Green Zone led me to a series of immense thoughts on indigenous people in climate change. We were there to have a short Sumazau Dance practice with Winnie, a representative from JOAS. The dance performance was for Asia Day on the next day. JOAS stands for Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia, translated in English as The Indigenous People Network of Malaysia.

Compare to the indigenous people (IP) that I interacted with previously in Krau, Pahang; Winnie is different, as she has much more exposure to the modern world. She was such a pleasant lady, teaching us the Sumazau dance with such patience and joyfulness. After a few conversations and interactions with her, I came to realised that there is always one common in trait in all IP deep in their heart- which is their connection to the nature and their purest form of attitude towards life.


IP are well known for their close to nature lifestyle. In climate change perspective, they are mostly one of the most vulnerable marginalised group. As most of them stays in remote areas- either in the forest, by the forest edge or near the forest, some even in the mountainous region; their lives are directly influenced by any climatic changes within the region.

Why? Well, for one, most IP do not get food from supermarkets or even wet markets. They gatherof plants, herbs and fruits, they fish, they hunt, they do some small scale planting, all for consumption and maybe for a bit of bartering or source of income. In the face of climate change, the most sensitive species will be most severely influenced, there those delicate fungi are gone, here some baby squirrels could not survive and there some beetles act all funny. You might think meh, two or three species were disturbed, so what? The forests have so much more but wait, do you not know that all species interact and rely on one another? They form a tightly knitted community and ecosystem where all species are either directly or indirectly related to each other. Changes in environment might perish a few species and the shake the ground of many other species. Without food, this might force the IP to shift away from their own villages as well as changing their lifestyle, which can be a threat to their cultures and social identities. Instability of food source, low ability to adapt changes and oppressed rights made them extremely vulnerable.

Researchers believe that some of the IP possess the traditional knowledge deemed essential to understand about our surrounding environment, which would be crucial to produce a comprehensive adaptive method that combines traditional knowledge with modern science. In the latest Paris Agreement, IP was recognized and acknowledged in the texts but it is under the non-legally binding preamble which shows no protection to this group of marginalized group which could be a key information provider in combating climate change.

I then recalled and flashed back all IP related events that I attended throughout COP21. From the side events in blue zone, country’s pavilions till the Global Landscape Forum; it seems that IP from the American continent (Canada, USA, Amazon and Brazil) were much more vocal and well represented in occasions like this. Asia’s IP are relatively quiet from my observation, especially those from South East Asia region.

I wonder was it because of lower media coverage? Or the lack of platforms to voice up?

I was buried in a thick hard clump of frustration thoughts (on the unjust treatment most IP had to bear) only to be levitated on Asia Day itself. The pavilions are filled with IP from numerous Asian regions showcasing  their traditional cultural performances. These nice people even prepared their traditional dishes as refreshment. I was deeply touched by all the efforts done by them. They traveled so far away from their hometown to Paris to  be part of this global event, all the while displaying good spirits of never stop fighting for their tribes. True, they might not have the capacity to understand nor participate in the negotiations, but at least they do whatever they could to show their eagerness in wanting  to be heard and they are concerned about global issues. With that said, I strongly believe that they deserve much more capacity building aids from their respective governments and international organisations.

Written by: Emily
Edited by: Wanji


Statement by Malaysia at COP21 High Level Segment

Statement by Malaysia at COP21 High Level Segment



7-11 DECEMBER 2015

Mr. President, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to convey our profound condolences to the people of France on the recent attacks and to express our solidarity and support in these difficult and challenging times. I would also like to take this opportunity to convey my sincere appreciation to the people of France for their warm hospitality and excellent arrangements.

In 2009 The Right Honourable Prime Minister of Malaysia Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced that Malaysia had adopted a voluntary indicator to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions intensity of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) by up to 40 per cent compared to 2005 intensity levels by 2020, conditional on receiving finance, technology transfer and capacity building from developed countries. Malaysia had incorporated measures to address the issues of climate change, environmental degradation and sustainable utilisation of natural resources under the Tenth Malaysia Plan for the period 2011-2015. This Plan had resulted in Malaysia achieving a 33 per cent reduction in emissions intensity of GDP by 2013. During this time the energy sector has been the major contributor to national GHG emissions. The sector was prioritized for mitigation action and saw the introduction of the Renewable Energy Policy and the Renewable Energy Act in 2011. The policy and Act enabled the launching of the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) mechanism to accelerate renewable energy (RE) growth in Malaysia.

The effort will be continued under the Eleventh Malaysia Plan 2016-2020 under the Green Growth Agenda. This agenda calls for strengthening the enabling environment, including policy and regulatory frameworks, human capital and green technology. In addition, investment and financial instruments will be further strengthened. The Green Growth Agenda takes a broad approach that includes conserving our biodiversity. I would like to highlight that Malaysia’s forest cover to date stands at 54.5 per cent. Here we reaffirm our commitment to maintain at least 50% level of forest and tree cover in perpetuity through “zero net deforestation and degradation” thus halting net forest loss by deforestation and stopping net decline in forest quality. This would be achieved by reforestation and enrichment of degraded lands to increase carbon sequestration and mitigate climate change effects.

This can be achieved more effectively through expanding the forest reserves and protected areas under the Heart of Borneo and the Central Forest Spine Initiatives. Currently, we have identified about 144 thousand hectares of land area that can be restored in the Central Forest Spine and 6 million hectares in the Heart of Borneo. Additionally, Malaysia has also implemented REDD+ which saw an estimated total of 97.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions avoided through improved forest management for the period 2006 to 2010. However, our financial, technical and capacity limitations among others, can hinder our progress and efforts to manage and conserve these natural resources. In this regard, external funding can offer viable solutions.

Malaysia too is very concerned about adaptation. Programmes on flood mitigation alone have accounted for more than MYR9.3 billion in spending in the 9th and 10th Malaysia Plans. Further funding is required for the implementation of mitigation programmes from 2016 onwards. At the same time, Malaysia has developed action plans to enhance water security under the National Water Resources Policy that also needs to be implemented.



Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Malaysia has demonstrated its commitment in addressing climate change. We would like to urge developed countries to fulfil their obligations as stipulated under the Convention which includes the COP16 decision that developing countries should receive financial resources. This obligation encompasses providing means of implementation, including technology transfer and capacity building for developing countries. Malaysia supports the centrality of the UNFCCC, the importance of equity and transparency as well as the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR). Malaysia looks forward to the adoption of a fair and balanced agreement and urge all Parties to undertake ambitious emission reduction targets for our future generations.

Thank you.

Heart of Borneo Initiative- A solution for Climate Change and Low Carbon Development

Heart of Borneo Initiative- A solution for Climate Change and Low Carbon Development

“Our lost has been too significant, and those that left have been too insignificant.” – Dr. Efransjah

Is palm oil and timber industry jeopardizing the orangutan’s survival and the forest coverage in Borneo? The answer is, it depends.

In the “A Solution for Climate Change and Low Carbon” COP parallel event, Dr. Efransjah, CEO of WWF-Indonesia, has addressed the idea on how Borneo states economy can develop without further exacerbating the deforestation issues.


“They can do it, but they have to do in the right way”, said Dr. Efransjah. Good management from the government in protecting natural resources and protected areas are vital in the effort to safeguard the lives of orangutans. In states like Borneo, where intact forests are border-crossing; trans-boundary collaboration on management is extremely challenging, yet significant. According to Dr. Efransjah, palm oil plantation is highly welcome for the growth of economy. The thing that most businesses often neglect or ignore, is to do it in the right and sustainable manner. The logging industry is one of the business sectors that faces this challenge due to the nature of their operations, yet it should not be an excuse for them to ignore the impact of their actions towards nature.

The high quality management and standards of the firm is crucial to promote a true green economy. Financial support too, is a mandatory and crucial element in sustainable development of the palm oil and timber industries in Borneo.

Payment of ecosystem and conservation levy is important to enhance the value of nature capital. “We have good projects, but we lack funds,” said Encik Haji Sapuan Bin Ahmad, the Director of the Forest Department Sarawak. Transforming the policy framework will hopefully encourage the development of good business behaviors and build the natural capital of Borneo. Therefore, national decision is still the utmost important factor in protecting the Heart of Borneo.

There is a saying from the Cree prophecy, when all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money. Protecting the survival of orangutans and forest coverage is an effort that should be shouldered by all. When the day we lost these precious creations of God, it will be to late to discover that money cannot buy them back.

Written by: Elaine

Edited by: Merryn