The Time I Delivered a Speech on Behalf of YOUNGO

The Time I Delivered a Speech on Behalf of YOUNGO

Hi, it’s me again bringing you more content on just transition. On the 5th of December, YOUNGO was invited to participate in an Open Dialogue with the Polish presidency, centering around the theme of “just transition”. Aimed at engaging key stakeholders, the open dialogue was first initiated during COP 23. According to my YOUNGO peers, the Fijian presidency worked closely with different key constituencies to set the agenda for the dialogue session. There was no such opportunity for collaboration this time around.

Photo taken by Syaqil.

With all the action happening on the COP 24 floor, I joined the intervention drafting session on a whim. I was taking a breather in the computer room with some of the MYD members after a morning of informal consultation meetings. Syaqil mentioned that he would be joining the open dialogue speech planning. At the time, I was in a writing rut so I decided to come with. With fellow YOUNGO members, we started drafting the speech without a clue about the format or the layout of the session. The only guidance we received from the Secretariat was the following 5 questions:

1)    What does Just Transition mean for different stakeholders?

2)    How can Just transition policies contribute to the long-term goal of the Paris Agreement?

3)    For which of the recommendations of the SR1.5 will the imperative of a just transition of the workforce be particularly relevant?

4)    How can different stakeholders contribute to these policies?

5)    Can we identify common areas among different constituencies and stakeholders that help to achieve a Just Transition?

We immediately jumped into identifying what Just Transition looks like for different YOUNGO members, and had an hour-long dialogue on our concerns about the future. Although we strayed from writing the actual speech, I felt connected at the core with fellow youth representatives from around the world. The exchange kept the passion for climate action glowing in my core. It’s easy for the older generations to sit around and talk about future ramifications of inaction. But, we the youth will be the ones without sustainable jobs and experience the lack of socioeconomic mobility brought on by a transition into a low-carbon economy. Unanimously agreed that our key messages will touch upon increased ambition, to keep the youth and future generation when planning for a transition, and to involve youth in decision-making processes.

The result of our brainstorming can be found below.

Good afternoon everybody.

My name is Tan Cai May from Malaysia, and I am speaking on behalf of YOUNGO.

Formally recognized in 2009, YOUNGO serves as the official voice of young people from around the globe in the climate negotiations under the UN Climate Change. It is an independent volunteer-run structure comprising a membership of more than 200 youth-led, youth-focused NGOs, working in the field of climate change and environmental sustainability.

YOUNGO is delighted to see that steps are being taken to continue the open dialogue platform started at COP23 – we would have appreciated this even more if the room was set up with a square table, which is more conducive for dialogue. YOUNGO played a key role in the collaborative agenda setting of last year´s dialogue at COP23 and is willing to continue such approaches towards this and future UNFCCC sessions to further strengthen the relationship we have built.

We appreciate the Polish Presidency’s assertion that just transition holds a variety of meanings across different communities. To children and youth all over the world, just transition concerns among other challenges: healthy and clean work environment, labour rights, job opportunities, social security, and community resiliency.

We, as young people, identify intergenerational equity as the central theme to just transition. Transition involves a change, and we, the young people want to play an even more active role in this process of change. The children & youth are the future and we want to shape our future together with you. Meaningful participation of young people in negotiations and policy-making processes is key in attaining a sustainable and just transition.

We would like to take this opportunity to point out that ‘just transition’ is only mentioned once and in a vague manner in the Paris Agreement. We believe that it should be properly addressed in the negotiations considering that climate injustice is what’s pushing people to refuse the transition towards a green economy. Furthermore, there should be clear guidelines on how to assure just transition in the process of keeping the temperature increase below 1.5°C.

We, as children and youth, will continue to pursue opportunities in the workforce that endeavour to create pathways towards limiting greenhouse gas emissions using available innovative and technological approaches, in order to achieve climate resilient development and meet long-term goals of the Paris Agreement. The IPCC Special Report shows that there is no time to wait. We need to raise ambitions immediately, and we need to have a transition starting today. We, as children and youth, have been taking action and will continue to do so. We are already creating change and we urge you to join us in this process.

Thank you for your attention.

As the presenter, I was grateful for the opportunity to speak on behalf of YOUNGOs at COP 24. However, there were great points from our discussion that did not transfer over into the speech, and I would like to highlight some of them.

First, we would like current leaders to acknowledge that our generation will not be as well-off compared to our parents’ generations. Natural resources are depleting at a high rate, and we will have to face the accumulated climate change effects. Our discussion also highlighted the unprecedented effect of exporting externalities to developing countries, where communities are more vulnerable to climate change effects and socioeconomic externalities of modern-day consumerism. In regards to the green technology and clean energy aspect of just transitions, my peers and I agreed that outcomes from the decarbonization movement need to be accessible and affordable to all. We recognized the developed-developing divides and hope that transition issues will improve the disparity rather than exacerbate it.

At this point, we don’t know if the outcomes of this ‘dialogue’ were documented and presented to world leaders negotiating our future. But why wait on others to do something about it.

Written by: Cai May

Edited by: Mike

Opening of Young and Future Generations Day – Growth in Youth Climate Movement in ASEAN

Opening of Young and Future Generations Day – Growth in Youth Climate Movement in ASEAN

On 6 December, it was a day of celebration for youths at COP in what was called the Young and Future Generations (YoFuGe) Day. On top of showcasing climate action powered by youths, it was a day where we could speak up in communicating our aspirations for a just climate future.

During the opening ceremony of YoFuGe Day, I was given the opportunity to speak on behalf of Malaysian youths. Here, I shared upon how 2018 has been a healthy year for youth climate involvement as Malaysian youths have had the opportunity to attend climate conferences throughout the ASEAN region.

We had youths attending the Asia-Pacific Climate Week conference in Singapore, in July. In September, we had representatives attending the UNFCCC SB48-2 Bangkok Climate Change Conference. In October, we had a representative attend the Asia-Pacific Adaptation Forum in Manilla. In November, there was the ASEAN Pre-COP Capacity Building Workshop in Singapore (The Malaysian node happened in October) as well as, for the first time ever, our very own Local Conference of Youth (LCOY).

I stressed how ASEAN as well as nearby regions still very much focus on the rapid growth of their economies. Therefore, the youth need to provide checks and balances, not only to governments but also to large corporations whom still very much rely on extraction in generating profits at a maximum. In demanding for Just Transition, the youth aren’t just asking for the transition from coal to renewable energy, but by transitioning into 2030, we would still want a world with a hospitable and livable climate.

When it comes to climate diplomacy, the ASEAN and nearby regions have not been as prominent as its Western counterparts, but it’s about time that we start putting the environment, let alone climate change, at the top of our agenda. Not only would we need to strengthen our NDCs in light of the Special Report on 1.5, but we need Parties to commit to launching domestic processes to strengthen NDCs. The importance of multi-stakeholder participation cannot be stressed enough.

Speaking on behalf of Malaysian youths in its growing climate movement across ASEAN.

Where others argue that economic development will not be sacrificed in the name of climate change and that we shall not pay for the sins of others, I implore that they reflect on such a position. Where a country’s policies are still geared towards providing fuel subsidies, plantations are being built in the name of carbon sinks (having totally disregarded that huge areas of land have to be deforested anyway), and where public transportation projects are being scrapped as a result of a tight national budget (only for there to be conversations of another national car), I implore such parties to ponder upon and “welcome”, rather than “take note”, the special report on 1.5. Because in sticking to the status quo, by being content with the mentality of ‘business-as-usual’, who’s to say that we won’t even have an economy to build as early as 2030?

Written by: Syaqil Suhaimi

Edited by: Mike

Principles vs Practicalities: The Drama

Principles vs Practicalities: The Drama

The most recent round of climate change negotiations started with a bit of a furor. At the very last minute, constituencies and parties were suspended from giving interventions. The SBSTA Chair came around, asking the constituencies if they would be agreeable to this. Safe to say, the request was more of a formality than anything else.

As one of the people who was supposed to deliver an intervention on behalf of Climate Action Network, I was somewhat annoyed. It was an inconvenience, especially since several of us had spent time drafting and editing the intervention. However it was nowhere near the level of the Youth NGOs. A heated exchange ensued between a YOUNGO representative and the chair. Both parties brought up salient points which I thought served as interesting talking points to the principles and practicalities of the UNFCCC.

 Me eagerly (with a hefty dose of nervousness), looking forward to delivering an intervention for the very first time ever.  

The UNFCCC process is built on being inclusive. However, many civil society groups complain that they do not get enough of a say in the process. At this point in fleshing out the Paris Agreement Work Programme, inclusivity is an important factor because if a document is not inclusive and representative of everyone’s viewpoints then inevitably people are less likely to adhere to something they cannot relate to. It is also important that people have confidence in the UNFCCC process so that they will have faith in the outcomes such as the Paris Agreement Work Program. These were some of the arguments the representative brought up.

The Chair on the other hand, highlighted that the UNFCCC is a party-driven process, which means that ultimately the text will be written and finalised by parties alone. Time is of the essence here as parties aim to have an agreement on the Paris Agreement Work Program by the end of COP 24 in Katowice and therefore it is essential that parties get as much time as possible to work on the text.. Hence this additional 6-day session in Bangkok. Cutting out this section would save an hour and a half. However, it could be argued that parties interventions can be cut while keeping the opportunity for civil societies. Parties already have plenty of opportunities to voice their opinions. This was certainly a point YOUNGO representatives reinforced over and over.

Members of the youth constituency sitting down with the SBSTA chair.

The  move to cut out the interventions was a pragmatic one. However, it has ideological and substantial repercussions – it signals that the voice of non-party stakeholders are not as important to the process. While there are of course other opportunities for non-party stakeholders to interact with the text, such as through and bilaterals, this is much less than the opportunities parties receive. Also, interventions are one of the few formal avenues that is visible to the outside world as the sessions are video-recorded and uploaded online.

After the heated exchange and some discussion among the other youths, once again YOUNGO chose to go up to the Chair to have a sit-down discussion on this matter. Youths are a key stakeholder because they are one of the most vulnerable to this process and also climate change in general. Firstly, because youths are usually self-funded and are not experienced in this arena. They are usually students who are passionate about climate change issues and have to study while doing this on the side. Secondly, youths will feel the impact of climate change much more in the future and will be the most impacted by the policies to combat climate change.

The outcome of the decision was that the chairs and the secretariat agreed that this would not set a precedent for things to work out like this in the future. They apologised for the impromptu decision and said they really believed this was the best choice. This incident reflected an interesting clash between practicality and principles. Which should be prioritised is up in the air. As a youth I would definitely be inclined towards principles as someone who is going to live the rest of my 60 years or so under the governance and impacts of the Paris Agreement.

What’s the Youths’ says? – Part II

What’s the Youths’ says? – Part II

Liang-Yi Chang from Taiwan

Liang-Yi Chang from Taiwan

“My first COY was in 2009 and our purpose was to learn how YOUNGO work and how the international youth climate movement works. My purpose to COY-Tokyo was to help and facilitate a COY in East Asia and strategically to support the march in Tokyo for Global Climate March moment, which is part of Road through Paris plan with Now there are more than 10+ student clubs working with Taiwan Youth Climate Coalition which is the national youth climate organization and is the first youth-led environmental NGO. We had trained more than 1000 youths to our yearly youth climate gathering in July.

Taiwan is yet an official member of UNFCCC which is improper, we hope we can loop Taiwan in the Framework to keep Taiwan’s Carbon emission to Paris Agreement and more to have its legally binding to international community. Youth power and consistence are both keys for me to maintain myself to climate issue. It is hard for everyone to attend all the COP/COY meetings, but we can follow from the previous participants to learn before we are heading.

We just had our 1st NO Coal march in Taiwan aiming for the Presidential election in Jan 2016, and soon we will have Anti-coal youth trainings around Taiwan in 2016 on planning.We want to face out fossil fuel through divestment approach and saving electricity to push government toward 100% renewables and green investment.”

– Liang-Yi Chang from Taiwan


Yew Aun from Malaysia

“I’m a MSc student. My purpose in COP21 is to show support to the cause at COP and prove that impossible things can be done. Intensification of El Nino and other climate effects leading to annual floods/more storms/intense drought is happening in my country. I am not well read on this but government has allocated budget in 2016 to establish National Disaster Management Agency and flood mitigation projects.

I think we can improve the youth participation in UNFCCC by improve awareness through dialogues with local youth groups. I feel youth participation is important but not necessarily involving sending youth to COP, there is much work to be done in the ASEAN/Asian region.”

– Quek Yew Aun from Malaysia


Melissa from Singapore

“I am a former environment reporter with Channel News Asia and graduate from the London School of Economics. Currently running a start-up consultancy for NGOs, Game Changerz, she is focused on running effective advocacy campaigns, recognising that first-world urbanites have every role to play in the fight against global issues, from climate change to extreme poverty.

My team went to COP21 to connect with other civil society groups, engage with our negotiators and ministers, attend side events that are of relevance to the Singapore context and communicate our insights of being there in the COP event. Personally, I was very keen to meet the 10,000+ climate heroes who flew to Paris from around the world. It is a rare opportunity to learn from experts! As a low-lying island state, we will have to adapt to sea level rise, which will be very costly. This year, we saw an extended El Nino which gave us a bad bout of haze. Singapore will be affected by food security issues too.

From COP21, I learnt that there are so many ways to join this fight against climate change! You don’t even need to be a nature-lover. For example, the divestment movement, or green finance, are all relatively new movements which has great potential to change things — but isn’t considered ‘environmental movement’ in the traditional sense. There are many exciting things brewing in other societies which Singapore can learn from.”

– Chong Youwen (Melissa) from Singapore


Beatriz from Brazil

“I’m a climate activist in Brazil, and my purpose of going to COP21 is to work with YOUNGO. Brazil faces droughts and floods that are induced by climate change. My organization, Engajamundo works to empower young people on the ground and to increase youth political influence in decision making processes.

I think the youth participation in Brazil is increasingly active. To increase youth participation in UNFCCC, we should translate how climate change will impact youth in their realities and get more funding so that we (the youths) can participate at negotiations.”

– Beatriz Azevedo de Araujo from Brazil

Interview done by Elaine

What’s the Youths’ says? – Part I

What’s the Youths’ says? – Part I

Areeya from Thailand

Areeya from Thailand

“My name is Areeya. I work for an environmental NGO in Thailand named TERRA. We monitor Thai investments in neighbouring countries in the Mekong Region and campaign to promote understanding of trans-boundary impacts and rights of the communities to protect their natural resources, livelihoods, and posterity.

I came to Paris hoping to witness the global movement of the people, to find youth voices that speak about climate change and hope that their stories would inspire Thai youth to be interested in climate change. At the moment, many communities are losing their lands to extractive industries. Fishers folks are fighting against coal-fired power plant proposals.

Indigenous communities are at the forefront to protect the forests and their communities from being taken away. Extractive industries and especially coal induce climate change and pollute our soil and water–the basic ingredients for food security.

The forests are part of the natural ecosystem to recycle and absorb carbon, yet they are being cut and the communities who have been living in and protecting the forests–their homes–are being chased away. So, I believe that these are climate change induced disasters.

We (my organization) are not directly monitoring COP or the negotiation; however, we monitor energy policy to help our campaign against large dams and coal-fired power plants. It’s a good news to see Thailand submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) which inserts a 20-25 percent decrease of nation’s greenhouse emission. It shows that it pays attention to take part in the climate negotiation and our prime minister also spoke before the members of COP21 about Thailand’s plan. I do not know much about Thailand’s adaptation and mitigation plan. Nonetheless, if we look into another document: Thailand’s Power Development Plan, we see that it aims to add in 57,459MW in the next twenty years and many projects include more coal-fired power plants and hydro dams, especially in Thailand’s neighbors in the Mekong Region.

At the moment, (the youths’) interest in climate change is still primitive. Many groups are aware of climate change but I personally do not know many who actively advocate on this issue. Thailand did not send any delegate to participate in YOUNGO or the official youth delegation.”

– Areeya from Thailand

Kuan-I from Taiwan

Kuan-I from Taiwan

“I am Kuan-I, Lee from Taiwan and I am an auditor in KPMG. The two main issue in my country that caused by climate change would be the extreme weather, especially typhoon and air pollution caused by deforestation and the exhaust emission. My organization, Taiwan Youth Climate Coalition (TWYCC) hold several workshops and Taiwan Power Shift to raise the awareness of the civil society and especially for the students and the young people. We are also one of the most positive teams in Taiwan to join in the COP and become the bridge between local and global communities.

Quite a lot of youth are interested in the environmental protection issue or energy conservation and carbon reduction, but the lack of whole picture on climate change is a problem. Youth have a much more ambitious goal and determination. It is probably what the delegates in UNFCCC need, for they may compromise with rather unambitious standard due to the pressure from certain sectional interests.

A series of COP21 documentary sharing events are organized, and we have already prepared 10 videos of different topics, including COY, human chain, red line march and the voice of youth.”

– Kuan-I, Lee from Taiwan

Kristina from Japan

Kristina from Japan

“I’m a student in France, Sciences Po, studying law and political science. I represented Japanese youth in COP21 as a member of climate youth Japan. I have been participating and organizing COP21 simulations around the world in 2015, so my initial purpose was to follow negotiations and compare with what we’ve done, but I ended up also learning a lot from the side events.

Interestingly even though Japan is an island and is supposed to be affected a lot by the climate change, we don’t hear much about the climate change induced disasters. I have read minor news how the agriculture in Japan (especially rice) is being affected by it (lower amount). We are doing our best to influence and improve government policies(we submitted opinion papers to three ministries – economics, foreign affairs and environment) but I think our most important purpose is to increase the awareness among the youth.

We should organize youth NGOs better through YOUNGO. It’s a very huge organization but since this COP was my first one I felt excluded and could not make the best use of it. We are thinking of organizing a climate march but I am not sure when. I really think we need to share the analysis of the paris agreement among the world youth!! and we need to come up with the solutions how the youth can contribute to the IMPLEMENTATION”

– Kristina Yasuda from Japan

Bellinda from Malaysia

Bellinda from Malaysia

“I’m a fresh graduate, my purpose of attending COP21 is to be the UNICEF Climate Youth Ambassador representing Malaysia. In my opinion, we can increase the Malaysian youth participation in UNFCCC by encouraging and ensure the active participation locally – e.g. participation in activities at their particular region, by going on the ground and organizing activities for youths at their particular area/region.

After cop, we plan to expand our work and maybe organize some activities at other different area/region in Malaysia so that more youths can participate and aware of the climate change issue.”

– Belle Bellinda from Malaysia

Yu-Cheng from Taiwan

Yu-Cheng from Taiwan

“I graduated from Keele University majored in International relations. Now I am looking for a job in the PC company. Typhoons, flooding, drought, mudslide, sea level rising and dengue fever are the major climate change induced disaster in Taiwan.

One of the strategy that Taiwan government took to address the issues is by passing the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act in June.

I believe the youth should have the right to participate in the high-level negotiation meetings and be able to intervene directly (in UNFCCC process).

We completed the Youth Delegation Interview Program and participated in the discussion of Asian Youth Climate Netwok Declaration during COP21.

I have also joined the Climate Global March, Health Central to Climate Change Action (Monaco & Health and Environment Alliance – HEAL) when I was in Paris “

– Yu Cheng, Chang from Taiwan

“I am now studying in Master in International Relations and European Studies, I went COY because I wanted to get some incite/ information about climate change related policy/ ongoing works before the start of COP21, it is valuable for me as I planned to work on climate change in the future.

In Hong Kong there is more higher average temperature, causing longer and hotter summer with heavier rainfall and more unexpected extreme weather like heat waves and fluctuation in temperature, typhoon and rainstorm which affects a lot in traffic and daily life in Hong Kong. Climate change also threatened the deep-sea species due to alternation of circulation pattern of regional ocean.

Youth participation and motivation are not strong, nor the coherence of climate change related youth group. Young people will discuss among us, but there is no concrete platform for us to join some campaign or take actions against the climate change issues. ”

– Yau Hing Yu

Interviews done by Elaine