Hopefully, the first of many

On the 15th and 16th November 2018, two members of the Malaysian Youth Delegation (MYD), Liyana Yamin and Syaqil Suhaimi, were invited to a Pre-COP24 Capacity Building session by the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC). Other personnel involved included those from the Ministry of Water, Land and Natural Resources (KATS), Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), and Ministry of Health (MOH), among others.

The session started off with Mr Ridzwan, from MESTECC’s climate change division, briefing the room about the logistical arrangements of the COP venue. It’s safe to say that unlike last year’s COP in Bonn, travelling between the main negotiations block as well as the pavilion area will be at a minimum. It has to be said though that the weather will be a challenge, considering that the maximum temperature during the day is forecasted to be 3oC!

This year, it is communicated that the official Malaysian delegation to COP24 will be 15 strong, excluding the Minister YB Yeo Bee Yin herself, and Dr Gary Theseira, Special Functions Officer to the Minister. Besides having the climate change division of MESTECC track negotiation matters related to Article 4, Article 7, Article 9, Article 13 and Article 14 of the Paris Agreement, other negotiations matters related to Articles 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 13 and 15 will be tracked by those from MITI,  FRIM, JPSM, MOFA and MPOB, inter alia.

Mr Jaya Singam Rajoo, the Head of the Climate Change division as well as Chair of the day, was emphatic in communicating that this was the first of such a capacity building session under the new administration and how he was pleased that the participation of such a meeting was one that was inclusive. Besides adopting an inter-ministerial approach, as pointed out above, it spoke volumes how the Ministry extended its invitation to youths in its first ever pre-COP capacity building session. I took great pride and honour at such a revelation and spoke during an intervention that MYD was very grateful for such an opportunity and hoped that such inclusivity will continue in the near future. It even got to the point where Mr Jaya approached me personally and communicated how he would like to hear the expectation of youths within the realm of climate diplomacy.

In hindsight, I was filled with mixed emotions regarding the Ministry under the current administration, versus how it was under the previous administration. From a youth perspective, I was concerned and in doubt with what a new administration would mean for MYD. It took us three painstakingly long years for us to formally establish relations with the government, through NRE, so does that mean we would have to start from square one again in order to establish relations with MESTECC? Would the new administration be open to engage with a youth CSO or would they totally shun the idea? These were some of my primary concerns during the build-up to elections and I have to say, with absolute relief, that such concerns were inaccurate, at least within the first 6 months of the new Minister’s tenure.

Two members of MYD, Liyana and Syaqil along with the Climate Change division of MESTECC as well as personnel from JPSM, MOFA and KPKT

I do have further concerns however, not so much on the ‘Katowice Rulebook’ being her first ever COP, but more on how in attending her first ever UNFCCC Climate Change conference, it looks as if she is set on attending in a ‘business-as-usual’ approach. But having surpassed my expectations once already, I hope with great sincerity that the Ministry, backed by proven and more-than-capable talent, and led by a Minister that is firm, passionate and most importantly, fair, proves me wrong again.  

Written by Syaqil Suhaimi

Reviewed by Liyana Yamin

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