“Where am I? Why is everyone so serious? What are these people discussing about? Why, why, why, why did I agree to this?” I thought to myself on the first day of the conference.“Ughh someone, please take me home, I’m lost” I shouted in my head.
I am finally here in Bangkok to attend the climate change conference. I was excited, like a little kid after receiving a lollipop. I mean, just hearing the word United Nations is already cool, and now I get to attend their conventions. But deep down in my heart, I was nervous, and I did not know what to expect.
The first day was a bumpy ride for me. I was lost, I did not know what to do, I did not understand what everyone was talking about -but I acted like I know what I was doing. At 9AM in the morning, I attended the daily meeting of the children and youth constituency, YOUNGO, and I felt welcomed. I really appreciate how they took some time to give a brief explanation on YOUNGO’s history and UNFCCC as a whole. The meeting ended at 10AM. I went out of the meeting room and went straight to the opening plenary.
The opening plenary was held in the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) conference room. The team and I had to watch the opening plenary in a different room because the main room was full. I had high expectations for this opening plenary (I thought the opening plenary was going to be lit, but it was the other way around). “What am I doing here?” I screamed in my head. Too much serious speech was going on and I was overwhelmed.
I attended a few group meetings on the first day. Each group have their own aims and tracks on the negotiations and they are known as the working group. I attended meetings of the adaptation and loss and damage working group, human rights working group as well as the finance working group. The working group name specifies the interest of the group and what they track in negotiations. I attended these three working groups just because I wanted to explore my interest and to understand how these working groups work.
The first working group meeting I attended was the adaptation and loss and damage working group. I have to say, this is by far, the most favorite working group of mine, because it was easy to follow. The head of the working group, Harjeet, knew I was new to the group and therefore tried his best to explain what was going on. He even took the time to explain some terms of loss and damage to us, newbies -to ensure that we were on the same page. The meeting took about an hour and my mind was fully present during the meeting (ok I’m kidding). I was actually lost a few times, but I got back on track and thanks to the team for taking the effort to ensure everyone was on the same boat.
I also attended a few negotiation sessions on the first day but I have nothing much to say about it because I truly did not understand what was going on.
The day ended with a Malaysian Youth Delegation (MYD) meeting. Each of us shared what we went through throughout the day. We had dinner together at Khao San Road and then went straight back to our hostel.
Written by Syahirah Aron
Edited by Kitty Chen