Marrakesh: Two Environmental Science students, Jasmin Irisha Jim Ilham and Dulanga Witharanage, from the University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus embarked on their 21 hour journey to the soils of Africa on the 2nd November 2016 to attend the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
They were competitively selected through a rigorous application process to be part of the Malaysian Youth Delegation to COP22, along with three others. For the past six months, they have organised and attended Training Series conducted by climate experts across multidisciplinary fields, such as climate journalism, climate policy and climate science. Besides that, they have put together a Youth Statement on Climate Change and have collected endorsements to be submitted to the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and Ministry of Youth and Sports.
With COP21’s historical outcome of the Paris Agreement last year, COP22 has set its pace to plan ahead for the implementation procedure due to the rapid ratification timeline by countries for entry into force. To date, 113 of the 197 parties have ratified the Convention. History was in the making when the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA1) took place.
COP22 was held on the 7th-18th November, and within those two weeks, Dulanga and Jasmin were able to track the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Dulanga closely followed the sessions of Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). She also focused on the Global South, its representation at COP and challenges faced including the introduction of renewable energy to the developing world.
Jasmin mainly tracked the CMA1 and attended the Group of G77 and China as well as the Like Minded Group of Developing Countries (LMDCs) coordination meetings. She also spared some time for side events on issues she advocates strongly for, which are gender and climate and low carbon cities.
The plenary and meeting halls at COP were buzzing with life from 8am till 1am daily. Meetings of the G77 and China and LMDCs were interesting to follow, with countries upholding their views on national positions, strongly taking their stand as developing groups.
Daily Track meeting facilitated by Chris Wright, Founder of Climate Tracker.
COP22 coincides with the United States Presidential Elections and president-elect Donald Trump took center stage, as soon as the results were released, during the first week of the negotiations. A non-believer of climate change, and the future president of the biggest democracy in the world, he promised to withdraw from the historic Paris Agreement within 100 days of taking office. This will have serious implications on climate finance and affect every country globally. Though majority were not prepared for this outcome, the US Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) were truly united and remained positive. Tina Johnson from US Climate Action Network quoted:
“We are down, but we are definitely not out”
For the first time in COP history, Malaysia had a pavilion for herself. The Malaysia Pavilion was officially launched by the Minister of Natural Resources (NRE) and the Environment, Dato’ Sri Dr. Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar. The event was also graced by the presence of many VIPs including Malaysia’s Ambassador to Morocco, Dato’ Jamal bin Hassan and Chief Minister of Melaka, Dato’ Seri Idris Harun.
14th of November, 2016 was named UN REDD+ Day (The United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) at the Malaysia Pavilion and many sessions were conducted under the said topic where Jasmin was given the opportunity to emcee the event. Dulanga and Jasmin were invited to attend a Global Action Plan on Agricultural Development (GAPAD) High Level Meeting on the Contribution of Agricultural Diversification to Sustainable Development Goal 13 (SDG13) of the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 by Crops for the Future.
Despite the hectic conference and tracking negotiations, Dulanga and Jasmin still managed to make great use of time over the weekend and hiked up the snow capped Atlas mountain range at Ourika valley. Atlas was dotted with Berber villages and riven with canyons and ravines. A well deserved break from the busy Moroccan streets.
They also joined thousands who were attending Marrakech’s first Climate March organised by the CSOs at COP. They marched across Marrakesh to create awareness on climate change and climate justice, to hold the leaders accountable for their promises and actions, for a more sustainable future.
The closing plenary at COP was a long awaited session, which was supposed to begin at 3pm but postponed twice, and started at 10.30pm. Though there was a lot of talk and build up of momentum for post-2020 action, pre-2020 action is still quite overlooked. The rapid entry into force of the Paris Agreement is a historical success but a huge worry among others, while the 2012 Doha Amendment is still pending entry into force. Whereby giving the Developing countries much to fight for.
It has already been announced that COP23’s presidency will be by Fiji, and hosted in Bonn, Germany. Moving forward, much work is needed to be done. Preparations are well on their way for the upcoming Facilitative Dialogue, decided to be held on 2018.
For those of you are deeply passionate on the environment and climate change, and have a profound interest in making an impact in your community, country and the world – then the Malaysian Youth Delegation is a place for you.
by Jasmin Irisha Jim Ilham and Dulanga Witharanage