Second Day at COY14: Diving into the Renewable Energy Working Group

Addressing the facilitators during coordination meeting

The second day of COY14 began as usual with the YOUNGO coordination meeting taking place. It started with Amalen, from the Artivist Network, sharing on how there is a need for a representative to handle climate action on behalf of YOUNGO due to commitments with other climate actions outside of the YOUNGO circle, within and outside the COP venue. It then proceeded to updates from Yugratna, the Global South Focal Point, with regards to a bilateral meeting between YOUNGO and the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres.

During the renewable energy working group (WG) meeting that transpired during day 1 of COY, it was communicated that a position paper was to be submitted by each working group on the morning of the final day of COY. As if that wasn’t enough of a shock to us, our WG facilitator said that he’ll be away during the next 2 days, which is basically the rest of the conference.

Day 2 basically revolved around creating a renewable energy position paper that is to be part of a collective YOUNGO policy positions to be submitted to the UNFCCC Secretariat, UN PGA as well as the UN Secretary-General, among others. As exciting an opportunity I found this to be, I was under no illusion that the task ahead was going to be a daunting one. We had no facilitator to guide us, and it was worth mentioning that the working group only convened early this year, which means there isn’t much material to refer to in drafting our position. Compared to a lot of other WGs, renewable energy was starting from square one. Nonetheless, it was a challenge that we needed to overcome, and we were determined to do so.

The product of our brainstorming session

We started off by brainstorming ideas and came to the conclusion that our position should centre around 3 themes – technical, finance and capacity building.

The challenge though was how to incorporate youths into the position, as our involvement would be a relatively new notion considering that the working group only convened earlier on in the year as a result of the High Level Political Forum which focused on transformation towards sustainable and resilient cities. Needless to say that one of the main focus of this theme is SDG 7, which is to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

Despite the odds, we did manage to produce a draft in the end, albeit a broad one. We then decided to let our facilitator read through the document in order to ensure what we had written was legitimate and relevant to the position he already had in mind. We dismissed with mixed feelings, satisfied that we were able to draft this position essentially out of thin air, yet unsure at the prospect that we may have had no idea with regards to our position (there were no past position papers for this group). Having to submit the article by 6 am the next morning, we conceded to let our facilitator proofread and make final additions to the document should the need arise.

Lo’ and behold, we woke up to another major surprise. Our document was gone, with a completely new document in place drafted and submitted by our facilitator along with a member from a previous working group. Not having given the chance to add input to the new position paper was a bitter pill to swallow, considering we had put in a lot of effort in creating a decent draft up to the night before.

However, I eventually reached a conclusion that feeling bad was not going to change the situation, and eventually accepted the fact that the facilitators were more experienced than us and knew (hopefully) better. This made me more determined to work closely with them and advance the working group.

As a working group that was only created early this year, as well as reflecting an issue that is not an explicit negotiation agenda, we have a lot of opportunity for growth and engagement. Yes, it isn’t an explicit agenda item, but the concept of renewable energy is one that is overarching across an array of agenda items across several negotiation bodies. In striving towards an economy that is moving towards decarbonisation, transitioning to an energy source that is clean and sustainable is the way to go.

Written by Syaqil Suhaimi

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