First Day at COY14: A personal reflection

After traveling for a total of about 48 hours, I was more than glad to settle into our quaint little apartment, lock, stock and barrel. After what seemed like an eternity of brisk walking, navigating and mad-bursts to catch buses and trains, it was pretty difficult not to lose one’s self in a hot steamy shower followed by well-deserved slumber.

MYD’s COP24 team at COY14, from left to right: Syaqil, Varun, Cai May, Liyana and Shaqib

Ironically enough, the mad-bursts to catch trams and/or buses, on top of the occasional grab, did not stop – as evident during the first day of COY 14. Having left our Airbnb at 6.15 in the morning to catch the 7 o’clock bus to Katowice seemed straight forward, until it dawned upon us that the chance of getting lost in an unfamiliar city is too familiar a likelihood. Not only did we miss Bus 141 which was to take us to the tram station that was supposed to take us to Blonia Park – where the COP bus will be stationed – Tram 24 cynically decided to appear on the other side of the road, leaving us in a state of disbelief. Determined not to have our spirits dampened by a triviality, we decided to walk to Blonia Park, being aware that it was a straight path anyway, albeit it being the road less travelled – or so it looked that way.

After having walked for about 10 minutes whilst simultaneously looking for our elusive bus to Katowice, an unremarkably grey bus zoomed by us and to our incredulity, it bore a neon green COP24 banner. As if it were already second-nature to us, we made a beeline for our bus, though with each passing second it seemed to have shrunk more and more until it was no longer conceivable to the naked eye. No matter, we kept on marching like the proverbial troops we were, trudging towards base camp in the field of battle, where lo’ and behold, there she was like an obedient wife waiting for her husband, that unremarkably grey, beautiful miraculous bus stationed not too far off from where we thought we lost her.

The rest of the day flowed smoothly in such a sequence: I half attended a climate change education game followed by the first YOUNGO induction cum briefing session (I half attended the former as it clashed with the latter). That followed by a breakout session into respective YOUNGO working groups, where I decided to pursue my interest in renewable energy. I was a little apprehensive with regards to the renewable energy WG as there was little indication that it was going to be active prior to COP, but my concerns were banished during the YOUNGO session when it was announced that such a group does exist and that it has a predetermined agenda.

Nonetheless, it was slightly concerning that the person handling the renewable energy working group is also handling the oceans working group, albeit temporarily as he waits for his colleague to take charge as she will only be coming in late for COY. I was also slightly taken aback at the revelation that the working group facilitator had to leave for Bonn the next day as he is to speak at the Global Landscape Forum.

No matter. I take this as an opportunity for the team to take ownership of the working group and produce meaningful outcomes. During COY13, I found myself to be disconnected and detached from the spirit of the conference, feeling lost and overwhelmed (it didn’t help that I came in halfway into it either). But with COY14, I feel that I’m coming in with a bit more confidence and a sense of purpose. Just like how some say that the failure of the Copenhagen Accord was necessary for the advent of the Paris Agreement, the shortcomings I faced at COY13 and COP23 leaves me no choice but to succeed at only my second ever COY and  COP.

Written by Syaqil

Edited by Varun

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