Asian Youth Coalition Network World Café – in the spirit of Talanoa

The Asian Youth Coalition Network (AYCN) World Café was a very eye-opening experience for me because it was testimonial to what I believe the United Nations climate change conference should be – just, open, constructive and in good spirit. The World Café kept true to its word as participants hailed from Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Germany, Denmark and France.

Group photo taken at the end of AYCN World Cafe

Unorthodox in its design, the World Café provided a platform for passionate discussion amongst participants who divided into working groups, unlike the usual lecture-audience setting where speakers could drag on for what may seem like an eternity.

The aforementioned working groups discussed on topics from 1) meaning of youth delegation and why we need it; 2) youth and climate change; 3) the future is for youth; and 4) renewable energy status and challenges. For my first article, I find it appropriate to share with all of you on my beliefs and opinion on these four topics.

  • Meaning of youth delegation and why we need it

In my opinion, a good organization is representative and inclusive, so it goes without saying that some sort of youth representation is called for. Hence, I believe the meaning of youth delegation is a group of young people set out to perform specific tasks. In our case, we as the Malaysian Youth Delegation, are a group of young people attending COP to track climate change negotiations pertaining to different tracks such as mitigation, adaptation, global stocktake, so on and so forth. I believe a youth delegation is necessary in tracking negotiations at COP so that we can offer fresh perspectives on how we can overcome the issue and most importantly, to ensure continuity so that one day perhaps we may become climate change negotiators or champions of some sort to continue the struggle against climate change.

  • Youth and climate change

My thoughts are as such when it comes to this connection: a) that the most severe effects of climate change thus far will be heavily borne by the current generation of youth; b) hence we need to take ownership of the issue because if left by the older generation, we would not have a place to call home once they step down. Also, when I think about the relationship about youth and climate change, my thoughts go back to the need for youth delegations all over the world to make our voices heard, if not have a say in the actual negotiations. If it’s not possible for youths to have an actual influence on the negotiations, we shall resort to climate action if that’s what it takes to bring the issue to light.

  • The future is for youth

In this segment, I recall reading an article from a member of last year’s MYD, Dulanga, where she talks about the fact that the people leading the climate change negotiations aren’t even probably going to be around to feel the worse effects of climate change. Remembering her article reminds me of the pain at how unjust the notion is. Imagine having your car fixed by someone else (but they don’t do a very good job about it) and he/she doesn’t even check if it runs afterwards because they’re not even going to use it. Granted, it is a cynical and pessimistic view of those leading the negotiations, which brings me to my next point – that there are many good people out there who want to make a positive difference and that whatever decision they’re making, it is in full consideration and for the betterment of young and future generations. Also, it goes for the current generation of youths whereby once it comes to the time for us to lead the struggle against climate change, our decision-making should be based on the needs and consideration of the coming generations after us.

  • Renewable energy status and challenges

Last but not least (I love the topic of renewable energy), my thoughts surrounding this. When I think about renewable energy, I think about clean energy, be it solar, wind, geothermal. I think about the phasing out of fossil fuels, I think about technology transfer and capacity building. This whole idea goes back to addressing the needs of future generations because if we go about with business as usual, in keeping up with aggressively extracting and depleting natural resources to power our world, there isn’t going to be any left for our children. As for the challenges, in my opinion it’s a matter of political will, as well as incorporating social and environmental values to economic motives, because in the end there is no profit nor development if it is to the detriment of society, health and the environment in which we live in.

The AYCN World Café was straightforward in that youths from across the Global South and Global North were in consensus regarding what is needed to keep global temperatures from increasing above 2oC – it was just, open, constructive and in good spirit. Across the 2 weeks I’ll be spending here in COP to track negotiations, I hope that the decision makers could follow suit and adopt the spirit of ‘Talanoa’ in resolving climate change – for it to be inclusive, participatory and transparent.

Written by Syaqil

Edited by Varun

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