COP22, also known as the COP of action as articulated by Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), was said to pave the way and adopt practical means of implementation to the Paris Agreement. The forum will discuss the key contentious issues that arise at COP22 in regards to implementing the Agreement.
Dr Gary Theseira, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment – Deputy Undersecretary of Environment Management and Climate Change Division Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. He is responsible for policy analysis, development and support for environment management and climate change and sustainable development.
Ms Meena Raman, Third World Network – Senior Legal Advisor to the Third World Network and coordinator of its Climate Change Programme. She has written many papers and articles on environment and development issues, especially on climate change and the negotiations in the UNFCCC. She has also has taken part in numerous national and international seminars and conferences and has presented papers on a wide range of issues, including sustainable development and environmental protection, agriculture and food, climate change, globalisation and trade. The meetings include the UN Rio Plus 20 Summit (2012), the World Trade Organisation Ministerial conferences, and the UNFCCC Conference of Parties. She also served as the Active Observer to the Board of the Green Climate Fund, representing civil society organisations from developing countries.
Ms Ivy Wong Abdullah, Yayasan Hasanah – leads the environment pillar at Yayasan Hasanah. She develops conservation priorities and strategies, formulates partnerships, and enhances collaboration with partners to protect Malaysia’s natural capital and build environmental consciousness.
Mr Nithi Nesadurai, Malaysia Climate Change Group – President of the Environmental Protection Society Malaysia (EPSM). He represents EPSM in the Malaysian Climate Change Group, a coalition of NGOs involved in climate change. He attended the annual United Nations Conference of Parties (COP) on climate change from 2000-2009, and more recently in November 2016. Between 2001 and 2009 he served as Editor of ECO, the daily news bulletin of the Climate Action Network at these COPs. In 2007 Nithi delivered the presentation on ‘Climate Change and Poverty Reduction’ to Commonwealth Finance Ministers at their meeting in Guyana. In 2010, Nithi conducted the 10-year review of the Malaysian Government’s performance on Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 7, entitled Ensure Environmental Sustainability, as a Consultant commissioned by the United Nations.
Come along and bring friends to show support for the vital issue of tackling climate change!
#MYD – Malaysian Youth Delegation – Malaysian youth climate movement at international United Nations climate conferences, UNFCCC, participants will be mentored and hold engagements with various climate expert bodies and dialogue with Malaysian policy makers and negotiators.
MYD youth engagement with Taiwan Youth Climate Coalition and Singapore Youth for Climate Action
Friday concluded my two-week trip to Morocco. I sat in the flight and hipster hostel in London contemplating all that I have learned, heard, witnessed and felt during this journey. Everyone kept telling me that it was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience – and it was.
Everyone kept telling me that it was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience – and it was.
First, let me underscore that it was far from an easy ride, contrary to the general view. We call it a ‘trip’ but it was anything but – the sweat, frustration, sleepless nights, tight deadlines and teamwork in preparing for this was and is a full-time commitment, as Emily had warned us beforehand.
Among the things we did was, with the help from our buddies, planned, organised and invited speakers for our training series, sent numerous proposals and met potential sponsors, read up on our own about UNFCCC and COP, engaged with the many organisations and youth groups already in our network and the other miscellaneous but also terrible important logistic arrangements like visa (!!), hotels, etc.
When we arrived at Morocco, it was another leg of the race. We were engaging with the Malaysian Pavilion, which included helping out at the REDD+ Day and emceeing and those events, discussing with the people behind the Ministry and Malaysian Pavilion about Malaysia in COP, meeting with various people and groups we have recently connected with or were in our existing networks like the Taiwan Youth Climate Coalition, Singapore Youth for Climate Action and a negotiator from Ethiopia we just met in our hotel. We were also constantly on the move from one meeting room to another in order to learn about how parties were negotiating and responding to the implementation of the various headings like adaptation, capacity building, gender and climate change, etc.
One of the art pieces at the ArtSpace
By the time we came home from dinner with whomever we were meeting, it was usually 10:30 pm but we also ran this ‘escort’ service at the side whereby we walked people home so they do not have to go alone; there had been news of someone almost being kidnapped in Medina circulating so we did not take chances. If we did walk people home, we would return at about 11.30 p.m. That’s the gist of what we did at COP22 as a team.
We were told to pick our focus topics but I ended up covering things beyond mine, as my focus was on learning firsthand about these negotiations by attending consultations. I may have been unfocused in that way, but I learned so much just by attending these meetings. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but as a law student, spending 2 whole hours obsessing about whether to use the term ‘invite’, ‘urge’ or ‘encourage’ was really fascinating to Moon Moon and I. This is because we learn that the deliberate use and difference between two words in legislation makes a world of a difference in implementing it. I am interested in the law or policy-making aspect as it is a behind-the-scenes view of the thought processes that go into drafting them.
spending 2 whole hours obsessing about whether to use the term ‘invite’, ‘urge’ or ‘encourage’
I must warn future COP-goers however – the focus and the preparation are tremendously important. See, COP is a world on its own; it is what I keep telling the layperson, and it is something that new participants must be conscious about.
We were all interested in the negotiations on the implementation of the Paris Agreement. It could be our priorities and individual goals, but our two weeks were spent in meeting rooms and meeting people while theirs was spent engaging with youths and meeting people.
So, it is important to understand what stimulates you and helps you achieve your personal objective at COP, and be warned that they may change when you arrive. This is because what you learn in principle and what you experience will change some of your focus due to the potential of growth you sense, very much alike a plant moving towards the sunlight.
I expected to engage more with YOUNGO than I actually did, partly because they were more chaotic and exclusive than I expected them to be, but also because I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of meeting negotiators and trying to decipher what a particular decision meant in the big picture.
You will see a million different things happening at once – side-events on topics you are interested in, consultations on an issue you are waiting to learn more about, YOUNGO/CAN working groups, climate actions, ‘opportunity appointments’ (chance to meet someone important who is otherwise busy), networking events, and the list goes on depending on whether you are CSO, which badge you have and which zone you are at – and these are just what are relevant to MYD!
Don’t be too hard on yourself, and don’t be an octopus trying to reach its tentacles into every cookie jar. Reality check – you can’t be everywhere and do everything. That is why even if your focus may shift, make sure that you decide on your priorities.
I had looked forward to immersing myself at the ArtSpace, but because the Green Zone was quite far away and going through the security and all was time-consuming, it was too ‘ma fan’ (which means troublesome in Cantonese) and I only went twice. So I had missed several daily meetings and did not manage to paint the banners for the Climate Action (I ended up holding an ugly sign painted by someone else), but I did meet the most interesting negotiators and delegates from various continents and managed to have a more personal chat with our own national negotiators and the amazing people behind Third World Network.
Be realistic with your expectations, be versatile. Take enough rest and eat well so that your brain can function as the sponge it is supposed to be (#AjaranAdrian) and you do not waste a session or even a whole day without understanding and absorbing information. Have your daily meetings, be in constant contact with your team and communicate with your buddies – they helped us make sense of so many things that we were lost about and kept us in check. Trust me, you will need it too.
Last but certainly not least, immerse yourself in the experience and have fun!
Written by Nachatira Thuraichamy
Edited by Choy Moon Moon
Nah, I just needed to get your attention. This article is about my journey to Morocco, not an analogy for my personal development and growth, but quite literally my logistical journey from Cardiff to Morocco.
One of the (super) most important things to confirm you have in order, are your logistical arrangements (Thomas is probably nodding his head vigorously at this). This includes travel and transport, hotel and VISA. Please also remember to notify the Malaysian Embassy in whichever country you travel to for COP that you will be attending it. Among other reasons, it will help them reach you and your family in cases of emergency i.e natural disasters, war, and violence, etc.
Morocco requires Malaysian-passport holders to apply for a visa in order to enter the country. If you are accredited with a pink or yellow badge, you would receive a Visa Confirmation Letter for a Visa Upon Arrival which would save you the hassle of trudging up the visa offices to get it done the conventional way.
My case was slightly different; I received my funding and accreditation pretty late. I had also maxed out on the number of days I could apply for a leave of absence for my trip to COP22; any more and I would have to defer a year. This meant that I relied entirely on my VCL for my visa as I was unable to make the trip to London because I would have to miss classes. The problem was, I had not received my letter via e-mail, even the night before my flight!
I rang the Moroccan Embassy in the UK for several days before that to inquire, but I was either put on indefinite hold or they never picked up. I finally left a message the day before my flight and resigned myself. I was unsure as to whether I should travel to the airport the next morning considering it was a 3.5-hour train journey and I was likely to reverse my journey without my letter anyway.
I took a leap of faith and took the train to London, and miraculously the Moroccan Embassy decided to call me back. I received my visa letter before arriving at London and printed it at the airport. All good, right? No.
I was denied boarding. Despite showing the staff my accreditation letter, my passport, and the visa letter, I was not allowed to board my flight. It was one of those incredulous moments where I stood dumbfounded at the blatant dismissal of my precious, legitimate travel documents. A lady who was boarding the same flight and attending COP tried to vouch for me but she was disregarded like a babbling child as well.
So I made my way to the customer service with the other passengers with issues; through the security check, immigration, baggage collection, etc. I speak to the customer service and they can’t seem to help me because although they didn’t find a problem with my documents, it was the ‘manager’ that made the call to deny me boarding. I kept intending to speak to this manager, but mysteriously she only communicated to me through everyone else.
I discovered several things:
The airline, EasyJet was terribly ignorant about one of the biggest events of the year that was happening in Morocco despite flying several trips to the country daily.
Their customer service left a lot to be desired because, at one point, I was asked questions that tried to imply that the fault was mine, or that my documents were not in order while keeping me waiting for at least 45 minutes for the manager who never arrived.
I was not going to board any flight to Morocco with this airline anytime soon. They required (the exact same) letter delivered by hand by the Moroccan Embassy, except it was Friday after hours and I had no way to get it by Monday, which is when COP22 starts.
So about 4 hours later, I realised it was a battle lost and having never travelled to London (aside transits) before, I was on my own in a foreign city without certainty about my flight to Morocco by Monday. Fortunately, a few friends helped me book a hostel I gratefully crashed at.
That night tested my faith and determination – with all my teammates either in Morocco or flying there with no issues, the niggling voice of naysayers at the back of my mind amplifying my doubts, a part of me refused to back down. I was like a dog with a bone; have been from the start of MYD. I was getting my funds, getting my badge, getting there, period. Backing down was not an option. I was told in one of the meetings that I had to ‘die die’ want to go to COP. Well, I didn’t think it per se but I did not think of going back, so I must have wanted to ‘die die’ go after all.
The whole time, I kept the MYD team updated on my status and they offered me useful advice and unicorns. The next day, I followed Adrian’s advice to camp at the airport until I got my flight sorted out. I had no plan, but I decided to go to Heathrow Airport instead of returning to Gatwick Airport.
I waited for two hours to show my documents to a staff from Royal Air Maroc that verified that it was sufficient for entry. By that point, I was already a disheveled, raving, desperado, frantically pointing to the COP22 banners and asking her repeatedly if I really would be allowed in. After I explained my position, she stopped looking at me like I was a lunatic and replied that there was no reason why I should be denied boarding.
I immediately booked my ticket to Morocco on that day before tickets were sold out or booking closed, and managed to fly with no problems.
Arrival at the Marrakesh Menara Airport
So folks, my advice to you is to plan ahead and always have a contingency plan. I kept in touch with the team and they were updated every step of the way, and because of that, I not only received useful tips, but also their warm support and encouragement. More importantly, never give up. The night before my flight, Thomas told me to take that train when I was doubtful.
‘You came this far, don’t give up now.’
Reunited with the team. From L-R: Nacha, Jasmin, Moon, Dulanga, Kelvin
I’m glad he did, and I’m glad that things happened the way they did because when you lug around a 12 kg backpack, fall on your face, spend two days trying to figure out an alien place on your own for the first time, you learn a lot about yourself, the way you deal with adversities and realise how far you are willing to go to reach your destination. You measure the worth of something by how much a person is willing to pay for it. Likewise, I realised the lengths I would go to, just for COP22.
Written by Nachatira Thuraichamy
Edited by Choy Moon Moon
Malaysian Youth Delegation in traditional attire at COP22
Reporting for the last time from the Red City, Marrakech; at the end of one of the most important climate conferences of the decade – COP22. For two weeks, the negotiators, UN observers, civil society observers and activists have poured their heart and soul to make this year’s Conference of the Parties an impactful one in reaching the 2-degree temperature goal promised through the Paris Agreement. But where were the youth? Most participants at COP represented the baby boomers, rare was the representation of Generation Y.
For two weeks I observed the negotiators take the spotlight, I saw CSOs take charge and voice out, seldom did I see a youth voice out. Even rarer was an audience listening to that seldom youth who was voicing out. Most youth presentations and speeches were delivered to a handful of ministers or negotiators who occupied a few seats of the plenary hall. The inclusion of youth at COP should not be through token speeches, yellow or overflow badges. It should be through a pink badge, an actual party badge, a recognition of national delegate status.
Vital negotiations need a voice from the youth. These negotiations are for us. To make sure we have a world to live in. We need the negotiations to be “all ages, all access”. We need to bridge gaps between youth and established NGOs, youth and governments, youth and the system itself.
Malaysian Youth Delegation representatives voicing out on Youth participation and the post-Marrakech scenario
We as the MYD2016 were ever so lucky that we were given the opportunity to attend COP22, to be vocal about the issues we thought was important for us, to get the opportunity to hold our leaders accountable. But this opportunity should be given to every passionate youth out there, regardless of country, religion and social status. All of us need to be heard.
Over half of the world is under 30 years of age and our future is determined by a group of individuals twice our age. Who knows better of what we want for our future than ourselves? The time has come for us to voice out in unity, to fight for our rights and secure the future we deserve. Climate change is the biggest story of our time, let us be a part of it, not just narrators. Youth delegates are vital in making the story of climate change a better one. After attending the 12th Conference of Youth (COY12) and two weeks of COP22, never have I been more motivated to make sure my voice is heard in the story of climate change.
Written by Dulanga Witharanage
Edited by Choy Moon Moon
I walked in after it had already begun, but I did gather the gist of what some of them were saying. In a nutshell, C40 is a network of more than 80 of the world’s ‘greatest’ cities (elitism in being inclusive – nice) around the world that are committed to addressing climate change. Acknowledging that each city has its own unique issues and progress in tackling climate change, it empowers cities to connect, collaborate and share knowledge to drive ‘meaningful, measurable and sustainable’ action on climate change.
The Swedish speaker explained that action at the national level plays an important role in the Swedish context such as on carbon pricing, and mentioned that the Carbon Tax 1991 was very effective. She also said that the ban on landfills in Sweden had spurred local and regional level to systematically and strategically promote innovation and a circular economy on waste management. However, what is most important from the government, is to make sure that climate policies and plans are integrated into sectors such as healthcare, jobs, etc. so that they are cheap but also effective measures.
She also highlighted the need for funding and co-funding on the regional and local level as an efficient way for cities to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as create jobs and incentives for businesses to work on innovation. She mentioned there are two types of investments; first, carbon efficiency in cities for sustainable urban planning. The second is from corporations that have led a number of innovation programs on a local and regional level and through NGOs. She said that this could be part of an export strategy as a means of being in the forefront of social and business innovations globally.
Another speaker emphasised that what was not lacking at the moment, is the impetus to act. With the tremendous momentum from the signing of the Paris Agreement last year and the turbulence in the USA following the (unfortunate) elections the previous week, there was an even greater result. The 6th biennial C40 Mayors Summit that will be taking place from 30th November – 2nd December 2016 will be hosted by Mexico City, and the participating cities account for over 600 million people. He mentioned that every mayor provided an individual roadmap of cities and in collaboration with other parties that will deliver on the agenda on a regional and national level in the city.
He pointed out that only a quarter of the commitments made in the cities that are included in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), and there needs to be greater support for regulations such as to drive diesel-friendly vehicles altogether. He also raised the issue on finance, where of the USD 11,000 that was spent on climate actions, 75% were directly funded by the cities themselves, and although there is the USD 100 billion trajectory, city coffers are not big enough to deal with such an amount.
I have to admit, I did not understand everything about what they were saying as I did sit in halfway and was not familiar with the C40 before that. However, it was an interesting concept to decentralise climate policy and action to give more control to city mayors and councils, who might be best placed to understand the challenges and needs of their people. Connecting cities together to provide direct technical assistance, facilitate peer-to-peer exchange, research, knowledge management and communications seem to be a great way to turn political momentum on an international level to action on the ground.
Indeed, as one of the speakers elucidated, cities are often prime movers of economic development if one studies the history of cities. Cities cannot, of course, change in the short run. However, cities will make it easier to ride the turbulence that comes with climate change, particularly in more vulnerable cities, so they must be made more ‘livable’ and this includes employment, health and education.
The moderator asked the speakers that if they each had the chance to pick one area of collaboration with the most benefits between the regional, local and national level, what it would be. Most agreed that transportation and buildings would be that area because of their carbon-intensity. The speaker from Canada quipped that Quebec was dealing with this through the zero emission vehicle law that obliges car-sellers to offer their customers with a minimum number of hybrid, electric or rechargeable models.
The Swedish speaker said that in Sweden, they have more or less managed the energy sector, but in regards to transportation, more work needs to be done but that cannot be done solely on a national level. She said that there are tools available but there is a need for collaboration in order to create a truly fossil-free system. However, that would require active city planning for it to be feasible.
The effort and need, to make zero or positive energy buildings are important, particularly in the growing infrastructure in cities of developing countries. This resonates with me, as I believe that developing countries should not sacrifice the environment for their economic development as developed countries have done, but they could be more conscious about how they erect the numerous buildings and industries in their cities. This, however, requires access to climate funding and support from developed countries, a hot issue at COP22.
It is interesting that none of the Malaysian cities is involved in the C40 and I am curious as to why this is so, although I do not think it is because we do not have any of the ‘world’s greatest cities’.
Written by Nachatira Thuraichamy
Edited by Choy Moon Moon
You can read more about why cities are important in combating climate change here; C40 and the work they do here.