Committee on Institutional Reforms,
Level 32 Ilham Tower,
50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
To: The Secretariat, Committee of Institutional Reforms, Council of Eminent Persons
Date: 28 May 2018
Subject: Recommendations for Institutional Reforms and Issues
Malaysian Youth Delegation (MYD) is a Malaysian civil society organisation that represents the local youth climate movement at international climate conferences, such as the annual Conference of the Parties (COP), part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Dedicated to raising awareness of climate policies amongst Malaysians, the youth are mentored and trained to translate technical policies into more relevant and relatable information for the public. MYD endeavours to hold Malaysian leaders accountable for the promises made at international climate summits.
- This paper outlines the structural defects that stunt the decision-making process to address climate change, and subsequently offers an appropriate redressal mechanism for good climate governance.
2. Pakatan Harapan’s historic win in the 14th General Election serves as a symbol of renaissance in governance and democracy. The Malaysian Youth Delegation commends the Committee for Institutional Reforms’ invitation for written representations from the public as it shows the ruling coalition’s encouragement for the people to be involved in the democratic process, and its inclusivity when it takes into account of public opinion. In that spirit, we would like to propose several institutional reforms in regards to administration of climate change and environment.
3. In accordance to Janji 39 of Pakatan Harapan Manifesto, the National Coordination Council for Climate Adaptation and Mitigation (Majlis Koordinasi Kebangsaan untuk Adaptasi dan Mitigasi Iklim) will be established to coordinate Federal, State and Local Government actions against Climate Change.
4. Taking cue from the governance of the National Steering Committee on climate change, we call for actions to enable collaboration between agencies to align and integrate actions towards climate change mitigation and adaptation, through transparent information dissemination and redefined agency objectives in the National Coordination Council for Climate Adaptation and Mitigation. This is because our existing policies and frameworks on climate change i.e. 11th Malaysia Plan, National Physical Plan 3, National Policy on Climate Change (2009), Low Carbon Cities Framework (2011) as well as other related policies for instance energy, waste management, agriculture etc. must be streamlined for coherent execution.
Figure 1: Institutional Arrangement and Thematic Grouping for Climate Change Action Governance in Malaysia (Biennial Update Report to UNFCCC, 2016)
A. Greater Integration in the Ministry and Agencies
5. The Ministry of National Resources and Environment (NRE) must be retained, as it is an important portfolio in managing Malaysia’s vast and rich natural resources and its climate policy. It plays a crucial role in maintaining 50% of our forest cover, which was initially pledged in the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 by Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, then later reiterated by former Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Razak in 2015.
6. The functions of the various departments involved in the conservation and management of natural resources must be reviewed and integrated where necessary to ensure there is no functional overlap that leads to inefficiency and unaccountability. For example, although Jabatan Perhutanan Semenanjung Malaysia (JPSM) functions to manage forests and sustainable use of forest resources while Jabatan Perlindungan Hidupan Liar (PERHILITAN) functions to protect wildlife, both departments involve biodiversity conservation. Thus there should be a coordinated mechanism for implementation and monitoring to fulfill this purpose.
7. The Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Industry (MOA) must also break away from the ‘silo approach’ and work with the Ministry of NRE as it involves the management of our natural resources, the focus on yield and revenue in research must be balanced with conservation, sustainability and food security. For instance conversion of natural forest to agricultural land use may affect carbon sequestration as well as release of greenhouse gas (GHG).
8. Conservation on Marine Species should also be re-delineated as whether it is more appropriate to be managed under NRE or Department of Fisheries (under MOA) as conservation is crucial to sustainable use of marine resources. On top of that, there must be an emphasis on coral reef conservation as more than 55% of the released carbon is captured by marine organisms, and coral bleaching is one of the major causes of carbon sink reduction. Otherwise, the MOA would simply be counterproductive to the NRE which would amount to wasteful expenses of the taxpayer’s money.
9. Likewise, in order to achieve the goal of 40% carbon emissions reduction by 2020 as stated in Janji 39, focus must be directed beyond the energy sector to include other GHG-contributing sectors such as the transportation and waste management which requires working together with the relevant ministries.
10. We would like to highlight the following Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation actions that should be placed under the new Ministry of Natural Resources or under the purview of Majlis Koordinasi Kebangsaan untuk Adaptasi dan Mitigasi Iklim based on the First Biennial Update Report (BUR) that was submitted to the UNFCCC in 2016:
Call for Actions:
On Climate Change Mitigation:
11. Increase access to affordable and sustainable energy. The current mechanism that impedes wider progress are as follows:
- Limited funding constricts wider deployment of Renewable Energy through the Feed-in-tariff (FiT) mechanism.
- Limited financial resources and capacity obstructs the development of a sound and holistic energy efficiency plan.
12. Practice interagency inclusive decision-making. The current defects that impedes wider integrations are as follows:
- Lack of coordination among relevant local, state, federal agencies for waste management due to restricted applicability of legislation in certain states.
- Lack of effective coordination has hindered the implementation of the 3R (reuse, reduce and recycle) programme.
13. Revive GHG Inventory Projects, NAMA & MRV. GHG identification and quantification are essential to track progress, currently we:
- Lack of proper assessment tools and skills to enable accurate quantification of GHG emissions.
14. Regulate Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) Activities. The current mechanism that impedes wider progress are as follows:
- Competing socio-economic development puts strain on land use patterns, while economic valuation of ecosystem services provided by forests remain largely invisible and undervalued.
- Land use change affects peat-lands and associated peat fires result in increased emissions.
15. Reduce Emission from Transportation Sector. The current defects that impedes wider integrations are as follows:
- The current policy on fuel subsidy without proportional incentive for hybrid and electric vehicles gives rise to more private vehicle use that would lead to significant growth in energy consumption and GHG emission in the transportation sector.
- The enhancement of the public transportation system that has expanded beyond mass connection to bus system will counter the move to reduce GHG emissions unless the planned 10, 000 new buses includes a mix of electric and Euro 6 fuel efficient buses.
- Technology compatibility challenges for certain vehicle engine models in using progressively higher composition of palm oil biofuel in biodiesel blends for vehicles.
16. Reduce Emission from Livestock Production. The increase in meat consumption has led to the increase in GHG, as such:
- The growth in human population and increasing income per capita, in turn increases the demand in meat production, accounting emissions from livestock by-products, as well as direct and indirect emissions.
- The MOA should work with relevant agencies to monitor and increase research on the effects and consumption of the livestock industry, moving towards more sustainable practices of organic and plant-based farming for mitigation measures.
On Climate Change Adaptation:
17. Expedite a National Adaptation Plan. The current defects that impedes wider integrations are as follows:
- Approach to adaptation has been largely on a sectoral basis in response to specific needs, leading to lack of holistic and advanced planning for adaptation to climate change.
- Lack of capacity in interpreting data from high-resolution climate change projection scenarios for adaptation assessment and application in various sectors.
18. Assess coastal vulnerability.
- Detailed sea-level rise studies have only been conducted at some vulnerable coastal areas.
- Impacts of extreme weather events continuously take a heavy toll on lives, livelihoods and infrastructures, despite cumulative efforts on flood mitigation.
- Implementation of Integrated Flood Management (IFM), Integrated Flood forecasting and early warning systems (EWS) needs to be expanded to all river basins, taking into account the role of forests in IFM.
- Assessments of impacts of sea-level rise, and its impact on groundwater and saline intrusion taking into consideration socio-economic effects need to be improved.
19. Revise major development without climate change adaptation.
- Essential infrastructure such as roads, railways, seaports and airports, public amenities and private properties are currently constructed without factoring in the impacts of climate change.
- Increased challenges of reducing energy consumption for cooling purposes, while durability of conventional building materials could be shortened by excessive heat.
20. Study food security and sustain farmers’ livelihood.
- The yields of crops are susceptible to extreme weather patterns and could affect food security.
- Smallholders and farmers slow to adopt good agricultural practices that could help them adapt to climate change.
21. Expedite biodiversity conservation and adaptation.
- Limited data and information on impacts of climate change on species and terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems available to public.
B. Inclusion of Youth in Climate Policy
22. We call for the inclusion of youth representation from a civil society organisation in the National Coordination Council for Climate Adaptation and Mitigation. Intergenerational equity lies in the core of sustainable development, that is, development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is imperative then, that the voice of the youths are well-represented in the decision-making process as they will be facing the consequences of policies that determine the management of natural resources as well as the irreversible effects of climate change.
C. Revamping Climate Education Policies
23. Comprehensive climate and environment education be made or included in core subjects for primary and secondary education. This is important in providing a holistic understanding of the interdependent relationship between the climate-earth system and humanity to invoke climate-consciousness among students when they analyse real-world issues like sustainable development, poverty and food security.
24. Building the capacity of students in school encourage changes in their attitudes behaviour builds a more informed and engaged society that conserves and consumes responsibly.
25. As Malaysia turns a new leaf, many reforms will be made. In the midst of this, we must ensure the focus on climate action is not lost. MYD is encouraged by the affirmations of the PH government, and looks forward to mutual engagement for a brighter, safer, and sustainable Malaysia.
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Thanks to The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC), one of our generous funders to COP21 that the three of us had the chance to attend the launching ceremony of Paris Declaration on Agriculture Diversification on the 7 December 2015 by UNMC special arrangement.
This declaration is spearheaded by the Malaysia-based CFFRC or Crops for the Future Research Centre. The government of Malaysia together with the University of Nottingham in Malaysia are the guarantors of CFFRC which was established in 2011 to provide research support to improve food and nutrition security, health and incomes of the poor, as well as the sustainable management of fragile ecosystems.
The ceremony started with a short presentation by Prof Sayed Azam-Ali, the CEO of CFFRC. During his opening speech, he reminded or more precisely, enlightened (since many of us has no idea on this) the audiences on our current situation of global agriculture. The whole world is mainly dependent on 4 major crops- maize, wheat, rice and soybean to feed 7 billion people. Problems that accompanied by this monoculture does not only cover food insecurity, but also extend to social problems such as malnutrition and poverty.
Prof Sayed Azam-Ali, CEO of CFFRC giving his opening speech
Since the world relies heavily on a few crop-producing countries, any extreme weather brought by climate change will lead to massive production shock. Food shortage in this sense will further lead to malnutrition especially among the people in the poorer countries. Many of the farmers and people working in the agriculture production will be directly and indirectly affected due to poor crops yield. This will affect their livelihood and poverty will befall them.
That is where agriculture diversification steps in. More variety means less reliance on a single major crop and this will reduce the effect of both poverty and malnutrition has any of the crops is severely impacted by climate change. Besides, this is able to promote the underutilized crops which might be more resilient to climate change.
I have always known that climate change affects agriculture much as climatic conditions are very influential on the growth of crops. Perhaps as a city kid, the problems of agriculture all felt too distant to me. Unlike my parents, I have never grown up with the view of fruit estates or golden paddy field but I believe I am not alone, majority of the younger generation in my country are the same. Food is always abundant and easily available in the city and even most of the rural villages, but that does not mean it will stay the same way forever.
Think about it- where does all my daily food come from? We use money to buy it, but when there is food shortage, what is left for us to buy? I am a rice person, as further confirmed by my 2 weeks stay in Paris where I have been craving for rice for several times.
I CANNOT IMAGINE HOW AM I GONNA LIVE WITHOUT RICE, SERIOUSLY.
NO RICE = No Nasi Lemak, no Sushi etc. Well, you get what I meant; at least from an individual level and when I am a typical foodie Malaysian.
However, it also came to my concern that encouraging the need of diversifying agriculture might also lead to more forest being deforested for such purpose in Malaysia. But the idea of urban farming mentioned by Prof Sayed in our casual conversation sounds like a brilliant idea to solve this!
I personally like how urban farming could diminish the transportation hassle from production sites to selling place. Besides, it can provide opportunities for urban people to witness and experience how is it like to farm near to home; which somehow filled in the gap that I mentioned between myself with agriculture production. Most importantly, vertical farming in urban area can also solve the problem of limited land use. Through this method, there is high chances where we can minimize deforestation and diversify our crops.
So Hurray 😀 to this wonderful idea and keeps our finger crossed for the implementation !
Written by: Emily Oi
This is how hectic and crowded Hall 6 can be. Spot the Climate Change TV behind!
After a few days of tracking and running around we found out that tracking negotiators is HARD. They are busy until they don’t even have time to eat. Their schedules are highly uncertain, as immediate changes or postpones or even cancellation of meetings are the norms. Meals and toilet breaks are on-the-run.
Based on our observations, negotiators are multi-tasking all the time. Their brain never stops, literally. You see them texting and typing during meeting; whispering with their team in between discussions. Everything is really intensed. They basically start their day at 8am with meetings, end their day at evening, sometimes after midnight (in the second week).
It took us some time to understand the different types of meeting. As I am mostly following the main text agreement, the meetings that I always went are those under the ADP ones. Other meetings by different bodies such as the Subsidiary bodies (SBSTA & SBI) and LPAA (Lima-Paris Action Agenda) are ongoing at the same time too.
Basically, ADP meetings consists of spin-off groups and contact groups. Contact group is an open-ended meeting that work on crosscutting issues and items not associated with agreement articles, where the parties negotiate before forwarding the agreed text for formal adoption in a plenary. Whereas spin-off groups work on the individual articles in draft agreement and their respective decision text.
Facilitators are appointed by the UNFCCC secretariat to facilitate and speed up the contact groups and spin-off groups. Sometimes, there are informal meetings too such as informal contact groups or informal consultations to let group of delegates to meet in private to discuss and consolidate views. Besides that, each party blocs do have their own daily coordination meetings are meant for each bloc (e.g. LMDC coordination meeting, or G77 & China daily coordination meeting) to ensure the bloc comes to a consensus on certain topic or discuss strategies for daily’s negotiations on how to deal with other blocs.
How a typical meeting room set up looks like. Screens are provided for negotiators to read the instant changes in the text upon discussion
In the meetings, we also found it hard in the beginning to identify who are the speakers because no country flags are placed in small scale meetings as the negotiators know each others well. We were also quite lost in the beginning of the pace of discussion, mainly because of all the jargons that we came across (e.g. we support LMDC suggestion on article X, paragraph Y that blah blah… However, AILAC mentioned in article Z paragraph S…).
Newcomers, like us, are not familiar with the text would take more time to absorb what exactly was the spokesperson referring to. So it is not surprised to see how attendees in meetings including the negotiators themselves bringing a hardcopy of the text full of highlights and remarks along with them all the time!
Logistically, I found out that the soundproof facility between rooms to rooms are not that good. It makes me wonder how can the negotiations carried out in peace, confidentially? (oops, hope they didn’t overlooked this part).
Securities are pretty tight too especially closed meetings where every single person will be checked on their badges before entering the room by the United Nations own security force. Some of the contact groups even needed special secondary badges to enter! The so-called CCTV (climate change TV) is literally everywhere in HALL 6 to showed the up-to-date schedule and also sometimes, broadcasting live closed meetings. Sometimes, many of the important closed meetings happened parallel with each other. This raised concern to the negotiators, and Malaysia voiced this up several times to the chair and secretariat. Not to mention, Malaysia pushed to open some other closed meetings to be opened to observers for transparency purpose! Another proud moment for Malaysians *Jumps and feeling proud*
Written by: Emily
Side Event in COP21: Asean collaboration in tackling Peatland Fires, Haze and Climate Change
In this session, Dr. Gary William Theseira, Deputy Undersecretary, Environment Management and Climate Change Division, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Malaysia has shared several key points on how Asean countries come together in combating climate change, peatland fires and haze including:-
At COP21: Asean is not a group to speak at COP but for the past two years. Asean has been working as a group on a joint statement on climate change.
Adaptation strategy by Asean on climate change: Asean Working Group on Climate Change (AWGCC) was formed to find common ground to fight climate change and hence, they agreed to share information of sea level rise, extreme events in detailed levels.
Asean on sharing expertises:
ASEAN Haze Monitoring System (AMHS) developed by Singapore cost $100,000 is expected to make use of land concession maps from each country, hot-spot data and high resolution satellite images to pinpoint companies responsible for burning land illegally.
Asean work closely in conducting researches and a number of joint programs related to forest and natural areas. E.g. Global Environment Centre
Thailand (Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organization, TGO) make a good position in Carbon Labelling.
Malaysia share their expertise promoting Green Building Monitoring Tool – monitor the life cycle of architecture / building.
Here are some Q&A on how Asean Countries handle Peatlands and Climate Change:-
Q: Do you have any framework on tackling illegal forest burning and encroachment? As I understand, Asean cannot interfere other Asean countries that causes this problem.
Law and legislation are there but there is lack of implementation/enforcement on peatlands in the region. Currently Asean is coordinating enhance capacity of local government, local sectors, and community to work together. Further works need to be done.
Q. Direct to Dr. Gary: I am struck by your statement that ASEAN countries want to develop without becoming the major emitter. How Asean can contribute in the debate in equity when it comes into the agreement. How Asean can come into play in the negotiation?
Dr. Gary: There is growing role in Renewable Energy. Asean does not have access to traditional Renewable Energy like wind, and solar. We are looking forward to something like biomass and wave energy. This is where technology transfer comes in. This could be the pathway where we can achieve clean energy.
Rehabilitation of peat swamps are achievable in other parts of the world but we need to consider the cultural, and social parts of the world.
With the current technologies – it is evident the cost is very high. For instance, to build a railroad, every one meter you need two concrete slippers. We know the carbon price of steels and concrete slippers. We need to pass via a phase where carbon emissions will be higher. We are trying to incorporate that into agreement. Benefit of that, you can remove x number of cars. Means and numbers are there. We need to come down to speak honestly. We need to come down to the level where we can honestly discuss and work on this together.
Q. I think we are overlooking issue such as peatland subsidence. Peatland oxidize, carbon release to the air and soil is lowered 5 cm per year. In asean region. Bottom of the peats lie below. What would the solution be in addressing such issue?
Peatland subsidence (lowering of the soil): Impact of drainage without fire has been recognized as the main sources of GHG. That has led to adoption of new principles and criteria. Any plantations on peat must do a drainage projection on the next 40 years. If not, it must rehabilitate and use only for wet-production. Only applicable to RSPO for now. This is one of the major challenges in the future.
Q. Long Term Solution for Haze Problem?
Dr. Gary: Long term solution to the haze problem lies in building your capacity of indigenous and local people the dangers of traditional agricultural practices in a changing environment.
Written by: Jolene Journe T.
Herry Purnomo, Project Leader – Political Economy of Fire and Haze in Indonesia, CIFOR giving a short introduction on political economy of fire and haze in Indonesia
Since 1990s South East Asia has been facing the issue of trans-boundary haze and 2015 is considered among the worst ever. This is an inevitable phenomena as palm oil industry is booming and is anticipated to grow to $88 billion by 2022 and Indonesia is the main regional player of this industry.
We have understand the effects of haze on environment, health and socio-economics. These issues are ongoing with trans-boundary haze. With all the experts at the forum today, are we able to find the long term solutions to end Indonesia’s forest fires and haze?
Here are some highlights sharing from each expert:
Intro: Understanding the root causes of political economy of fire and haze in Indonesia
Herry Purnomo, Project Leader – Political Economy of Fire and Haze in Indonesia, CIFOR
In 2015, forest fires have caused about 2.6 million ha of land burnt with more than 30 billion dollars of economic losses. 43 million of Indonesians were exposed to haze and half million of people became victims of acute respiratory infections with 19 people reported death.
Some important key points on the root causes of political economy of fire and haze in Indonesia:-
- Tenure and illegal land market
- Bad practices of agricultural and plantation development – Interestingly wood plantations are manage by group while oil palm plantations are managed by individual companies.
- Land politics: Patronage network between business and government – When it comes to land politics, corporate actors are connected to elites at various levels.
- Land politics for local elections – Hot spots is linked to election. Local elites/cukong who organize farmers are the most influential actors in land transaction.
Q. Are Smallholders to be blame for forest fires and haze in Indonesia?
Mansuetus Alsy Hanu – National coordinator, Indonesia’s Palm Oil Smallholder Union
Smallholders are owners who own the land under 25ha and they manage the land on their own. In Indonesia, there are a total of 60% of the 48,000 are smallholders.Smallholders tend to be in difficult position when it comes to prepare plantation. For now, fire (aka ‘slash and burn’ method’) is the cheapest method to prepare plantation.
Regarding forest fires and haze, smallholders may not be the main cause of it. Smallholders do not receive benefits to convert their crops to palm oil plantation and they do not get assistance or any protection by government locally and nationally.
In terms of solution of reducing forest fires, Mansuetus proposed the need of better mapping for smallholders’ land. There is also a need of strong establishment of relationship between government and smallholders. The government could provide incentives to smallholders who do not use fires to prepare their plantations as an attractive income for the smallholder..
Q. From NGO Perspective: What are the challenges in resolving this Issue?
Jatna Supriatna, Chairman of Research Centre for Climate Change, University of Indonesia.
While getting himself involved in non-governmental organization for 15-20 years. Jatna thinks the problem in dealing with forest fires for the past 20 year is the budget. The budget from government is not easy to be accessible for forest fire issues.
“To monitor the hot spots, there is no budget to access the peatland areas. Fire in the peatland is easily spread – underneath. Go widely. It is very important that we are working in many different form. it is always the dry season we have to be ready. In Indonesia, local governments do not have fire brigade but trucks. We really need to have collaboration with local government and private sectors” says Jatna.
Jatna also highlighted the importance of law enforcement in public area and national protected areas as forest fires occurred in these areas are caused by encroachment.
Q. What can Private Sectors do to prevent forest fires and haze?
Dharsono Hartono, president director of PT Rimba Makmur Utama, Indonesia proposed the key to prevent forest fires and haze is to establish trust among various stakeholders via bottom-up approach.
Forest fires tend to occur in conjunction with El Nino. During El Nino, the canals from east to west of Indonesia will dry up. After the projection of terrible El Nino by NASA in 2007, PT Rimba Makmur Utama has immediately engaged and worked closely with the 6 villages (200 people) to prevent forest fires and haze.
Awareness, trust and transparency are the key values to promote full participation from the communities. Other than providing education to the villagers, PT Rimba decided to go beyond the boundary by training a brigade team prevent and combat forest fires and haze.
Q. The world demanded Palm Oil. What about the Supply Chains of Oil Palm Plantations? Aren’t they also responsible for forest fires?
Agus Purnomo – Managing Director for sustainability and strategic stakeholders Engagement, Golden Agri-Resources, Ltd.
As Indonesia is the largest oil palm producers in the world, supply chains around world are also responsible for forest fires and haze. According to Purnomo, it is common to have problematic growers / companies within the supply chains. In order to prevent this, Golden Agri-Resources is focusing on establishing transparency with their suppliers.Thus far, they have 98% of the mills willing to share their suppliers info and by Dec 2015, they will have 100% visibility of the mills. However, it is difficult to acquire transparency and visibility beyond the mills and these mills source their resources from others.
“All our supply chains are posted on the website. We do not know the particular mill bought by another group. That is something we cannot know before. If we know, we will engage. We will have dialogue and see how we move forward.” says Purnomo.
Golden Agri-Resources is focusing on B2B arrangement. However, policies cause a lot of issues as mentioned by Herry. There is an urging need in getting all stakeholders to be involved to resolve such issue. From government, to local stakeholders, NGOs, companies who are involved in the supply chain. We need to formulate a common goal, better transparency in order to prevent forest fires and haze.
Written by: Jolene Journe T.