Personal Experience in Pre-COP Arrangement

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Grocery store right opposite our apartment

When I was filling in the MYD feedback form, there is a question asking about which part of COP did I think I performed the best. To be honest, I think I perform well (not to say the best) during pre-COP period, where all the necessary preparation and arrangement were needed to be done. I really like what I was doing at that moment because my objective is, to have a proper team, to attend COP21 and learn together. This article will focus on my experience in pre-COP arrangement.

Accommodation
I took the lead in accommodation arrangements. A few type of accommodation search engines were used in order to make the best comparison in terms of prices, amenities and location. To name a few, there are hostelworld, booking.com, hotels.com, agoda and Airbnb. To speed up the shortlist process, I narrowed down the scope of the search. For example, I only search 1 to 2 stars hotel or apartment. Obviously, the price of accommodation from 3 stars and above are expensive and there is no reason for me to do so. We are there for work, not for holiday.

All shortlisted accommodation were compile into a spreadsheet to ease comparison. After much discussion with the team, we decided to choose Mim’s apartment from Airbnb. The apartment is situated at a strategic location. It was located near to Gare Du Nord. Gare Du Nord is like Malaysia KL Sentral (public transport hub) and it has a direct train line to travel to Le Bourget Airport (COP21 venue). There is also a grocery store just in front of it, which is convenient for us because we were planning to cook, in order to save money. Last but not least, the most attractive factor is the price! The host of the apartment, Mim is a nice person and he gave us a good deal. Thus, I highly recommended his apartment to those who wish to travel to Paris in a group of 4 to 6. Trust me, you will be amazed by the interior design and the amenities provided.

The whole process, from the beginning till the day the booking was finally confirmed, took around 2 months! It took longer than I expected, and it was not easy to coordinate among my team members. Insufficient funds also resulted in a delay for the booking. Well, nothing last forever, so goes to the bad days. We managed to get everything sorted out at the end of October and the apartment that we desired was booked.

Budget planning
To date, this is my second time working on budget planning since my university project 3 years ago. To summarise my experience, budget planning is not difficult but it requires constant monitoring. The price of some expenses such as Airfare vary from time to time. Today, the price of the Airfare is RM1800, tomorrow the price might fluctuate to RM2500.00 and, the following day it might fall back to RM1800. In short, my feeling is like riding a roller coaster.

To ease my job, I set up a daily update notification, to check for the airfare for a few chosen airlines. Besides, research done for the food expenses is also time consuming. Thanks to Internet, everything is possible with just a few clicks. The initial food budget per diem is 18 Euro (approx RM85) based on the estimated calculation I obtained from online and recommendations from friends that are currently staying at Paris. The budget per diem increased during mid of November as we have adequate funds and I also wish to have a better team welfare. Moreover, it is also advisable to allocate higher value during budget planning so that there are reserved funds available in case of overrun.12nd article picture 2

After staying a week in Paris, we as a team felt that the food budget is more than sufficient as some of the days we cook ourselves. As a result, we agreed to change back to the initial budget. Aside from these, different people have different eating lifestyle. For those who wish to have fine dining for every meal, i am sorry to say that 18 Euro is hardly possible even for a single meal. No offense but chinese food in Paris is relatively cheaper and the good thing is there is rices available. #ASIAN

Develop necessary documents
I also have the opportunity to work on producing a MYD2COP21 logistic handbook. In my opinion, a handbook is essential as it is the best way to share all relevant information to the team members. The handbook consists of all the information needed such as accommodation, public transportation know-how, registration for COP21, a list of parallel events and emergency contacts. Albeit COP21 is over, you are most welcome to refer to the handbook for future references. While developing the handbook, it gave me a clearer picture on how each “system” work, especially the public transport system.

Unlike Malaysia, the public transport system in Paris is way more complicated! Please click this link if you do not believe me and be prepare to get your mind go haywire. But again, technology has made our life so much easier now. There are 2 free public transport apps that come in handy when you want to plan your journey in Paris, namely RATP: Subway Paris and Visit Paris by Metro.

Besides, I also created a customised google map that pinpointed most of the location and description of parallel events that happened during COP21. I felt that the map is very useful as everyone can check on all the events in a single map. It’s so convenient! The only thing I regretted about it is, I did not manage to share this map to a wider audience. *what a waste*

Training series
In order to get ready for “war” during COP21, we need to equip ourselves with sufficient knowledge of understanding climate change and UNFCCC. From July until November 2015, a series of training workshops were organised by MYD to enhance youth skills and understanding in climate change & UNFCCC negotiations. The workshops were hosted by various climate experts, government bodies and civil society leaders to share on related topics with the youth delegation as well as the public.

For more information, please click here.

Written by: Thomas Lai
Edited by: Merryn Choong

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