The Malaysian Youth Delegation (MYD) organised this year's virtual Malaysian Local Conference of Youth (MYLCOY2020) with the theme of Mobilising for a Green Post Covid-19 Recovery. We had the chance to talk with the organising team who share their insight, idea, and takeaways from the only Local Conference of Youth (LCOY) in ASEAN in 2020.
Hello Guys! Kudos to the success of organising #MYLCOY2020! To begin with, what was the conference all about?
Julian: The Covid-19 pandemic revealed how flawed and broken humanity’s ways of living and working were. Relentless exploitation and destruction of nature allowed a novel virus to cross the species barrier and start the pandemic. MYD believes that humanity can build back greener and better from the pandemic and not repeat the mistakes of the past. The MYLCOY2020 conference aimed to be a catalyst for a greener post Covid-19 recovery in Malaysia and Southeast Asia. The conference brought together Malaysian and Southeast Asian youth, climate experts, activists, and leaders to enable them to learn from each other and inspire each other. In doing so, the conference laid foundations for the growth of a more passionate and impactful climate movement in Malaysia and Southeast Asia that can effectively mobilise for a green post Covid-19 recovery.
What were the motivations for organising the virtual Malaysian Local Conference of Youth (MYLCOY2020)? What were the motivations for joining the organising team of MYLCOY2020?
Meor: I was previously a participant for LCOY 2019 and had joined MYD this year. I took this opportunity to be involved in the LCOY organising team to improve the conference based on my experience last year. I have always been interested in building the capacity of the youth in climate change, and the energy sector especially. The pandemic was a blessing in disguise for us, as this conference was conducted as a one-weekend physical event in the past, but the virtual nature of this year's conference allowed for more flexibility. The conference was extended over three weekends, which gave us the opportunity to cover more intersectional topics on climate change. I am grateful that I was able to contribute to the team and bring topics such as international cooperation and sustainable cities to the conference programme.
Valerie: I chose to involve myself with organising MYLCOY2020 because I wanted to learn more from my enthusiastic and like-minded peers about how to effectively put together an unprecedented youth-led international virtual conference on an important topic I am striving to improve my mastery in. I am grateful that the first LCOY I have attended happens to be one that I have also contributed behind the scenes, from conceptualisation to execution. I also learnt a lot from each of the highly experienced and well esteemed panellists who have so willingly lent their time to MYLCOY2020.
Karyn: As the only LCOY in ASEAN this year, MYLCOY2020 was a great opportunity for Southeast Asian youth to connect, get an in-depth perspective of ASEAN climate advocacy and mobilise a regional climate movement. For me, I was initially drawn to the prospect of being able to help out with the whole process of putting together the conference, as well as learning from the rest of the incredible team. I was elated to be able to utilise my skills to contribute on the marketing side, through which we were able to reach a diverse range of participants from all across ASEAN.
What was the most significant challenge faced in organising MYLCOY2020 and how was the challenge overcome?
Azierah: One of the biggest challenges faced by the team when organising the conference was the pandemic itself, as we were restricted to organising virtual conferences, making it challenging to hold more interactive sessions and build rapport between the organiser, the partners, and the sponsors. However, the team had successfully turned the challenge into an opportunity by adapting to the circumstances. In doing so, we expanded our network by inviting speakers from diverse backgrounds and nationalities, and removed the barrier of physical distance for the participants to travel to the venue. The conference also served as a stepping stone for the digitisation of MYD.
Meor: A significant challenge in organising this conference came even before the organising team was officially set up. We were looking for potential funders to make the conference a reality. Due to the pandemic, it was quite difficult to find interested parties to provide sponsorship. Fortunately, the Embassy of France in Malaysia generously agreed to fund our conference and this was a huge motivation for us to strive to produce better sessions and better outcomes.
How did MYLCOY2020 contribute to building a Southeast Asian youth community and movement for climate action? Why is a regional youth climate movement necessary and important?
Naufal: The reach of the conference extended to over 650 participants from 33 countries which is a significant milestone for us. The conference covered so many topics that were delivered by over 40 experts from across Southeast Asia. That was a good capacity building exercise which gives Southeast Asian youth ideas on how to mobilise and organise their own climate action in their locality. I personally have learned so much watching these sessions, I believe the other youths who tuned in would agree!
Southeast Asia will be one of the most impacted regions by climate change. We have seen the disastrous effects in some of the countries in Southeast Asia, for example in the Philippines, where they have endured many typhoons due to the changing climate, and Indonesia with their seasonal ravaging wildfires that was started by humans and exacerbated by climate change. It is no longer possible for everyone to work in silos minding their own business, as climate change is a complex problem that spans far beyond borders. Simply put, cooperation between all stakeholders is necessary and must transcend borders.
Many participants were curious about the Climate Policy Simulation at MYLCOY2020, and there was definitely some buzz surrounding it. How did it go, and will there be future sessions?
Reza: This was my first time running the En-ROADS Climate Action Simulation which I had found through a webinar over lockdown. The Simulation begins in a Climate Action Summit where 8 groups (Developed Nations; Rapidly Emerging Nations; Developing Nations; Land, Agriculture & Forestry; Clean Tech; Climate Justice Hawks; Conventional Energy; Industry and Commerce) have to decide what actions and policy levers to implement that are compatible with a 2 degrees Celsius world as per the Paris Agreement. The discussions we managed during the two hours allocated at LCOY were good but I think with more time we could try having multiple breakout sessions or even encourage lobbying between the groups.
I was fortunate that I had 8 co-hosts from MYD, namely, Alka, Eira, Farhana, Lhavanya, Rabiatul, Rayyan, Saef, Sue Roe to facilitate the different breakout rooms of each group. I think it went well, and based on the encouraging feedback from participants of the session I think it could be run again in the near future.
What is a Youth Assembly and why did the team incorporate one into the MYLCOY2020 programme? What was the expected outcome and was it achieved?
Kieran: The Youth Assembly is a Model United Nations-style event where we gave participants the opportunity to represent themselves and put forward their own opinions and solutions on a particular topic, in this case being “Mitigating the Socioeconomic Risks of Climate Change”.
Ee Jenn: Being an active participant in the Malaysian MUN scene, I was excited to be asked to chair this Youth Assembly. As with all virtual events, we had some concerns about the utilisation of virtual platforms, what MUN procedure to use, and whether people would even turn up at all. However, we forged ahead, believing that MYLCOY2020 should provide a platform for passionate youth to start discussions and connect, just as they would have at an in-person conference.
Josephine: Organising the Youth Assembly was the most exciting and nerve-wracking part of the conference for me. It was the first time MYD ever did something of the sort, and we had no idea what kind of response we would get. However, we were not disappointed. With over 130 sign-ups for the Youth Assembly, it was the largest MUN-style council we had ever seen. The delegates were well-prepared, and everyone was able to bring a valuable new perspective to the table.
Kieran: The delegates put in effort even beyond formal sessions to ensure that the resolution was in top form before it was presented to the Youth Assembly Expert Witness, Mr. Nithi Nesadurai, Regional Coordinator of the Climate Action Network Southeast Asia (CANSEA), who was impressed by the solutions proposed.
Ee Jenn: The outcome really exceeded my expectations – delegates were incredibly engaged and clearly demonstrated that they had learned a lot from the past three weeks of the conference. The draft resolution they produced was refined with feedback provided by our Expert Witness, Mr. Nithi Nesadurai, who provided insights into what solutions were feasible within a national, and ASEAN context. The end result was chock full of detailed, ambitious ideas that we are excited to present to YOUNGO and other international climate governance stakeholders.
Kieran: One of the most heartening things of all is that the participants came out of the event having gained more confidence, knowledge, and even friends from working together over a mutual passion. That alone makes all the trials and tribulations we faced throughout the event worth it.
What were the highlights of MYLCOY2020 for the team? What was most inspiring about the conference? What were the team’s biggest takeaways/learnings from MYLCOY2020 and the experience of organising the conference? What message would the team like to leave for all participants of MYLCOY2020?
Zhee Qi: Being a part of an event of this scale is something very new to me, and it was slightly overwhelming as I had to juggle my other commitments and academics along with MYLCOY2020. The learning curve was definitely steep, so I am really glad to be able to work with such a supportive team. It was also my great pleasure to have liaised with so many experienced and knowledgeable speakers.
Kieran: Working with a team that was endlessly hardworking and passionate towards a mutual cause was definitely a highlight for me. Such an extensive, large-scale event definitely came with numerous challenges, a number of them unprecedented, however it was heartening that we helped fill in for each other whenever necessary. Plus, the good reception of the event certainly showed us that more people cared about this dire problem than we often think, and events like these are important to show us that we’re not alone in working towards securing a better future for us all.
Justin: It was amazing to connect with peers who are also passionate about the sustainability agenda, and working with them to execute this exciting event. A personal highlight was that participants dialled in from all over the world, and were actively engaged throughout every session! This gives me hope that we will be able to make things better for the future.
Robin: I think the most inspiring thing from the conference was definitely discovering that there are so many youths who are passionate and excited about climate action and sustainability. The biggest takeaway was probably the importance of a good committed team to execute such a large event. I am so grateful for every person who worked hard to make the conference a reality. My message to all the participants and speakers would be to not give up in pursuing your passions climate/sustainability related or otherwise, we each have our own part to play in changing the world!
Farhana: MYLCOY covered a wide range of topics that are relevant and thought-provoking. Every speaker in every session provided a unique angle/perspective to the session topics which helped paint a larger narrative to the topic at hand. Thus, it highlights the need to constantly learn to improve our climate advocacy.
Karyn: My message would be to stay curious! If MYLCOY made me realise anything, it was that the climate action scene is bigger and more diverse than you can imagine. Anyone can incorporate climate advocacy into their life, so long as you have the knowledge and curiosity to see the opportunities that exist!
Naufal: During my time as part of the organising committee I had experienced some frustration, especially since I was initially tasked to find additional sponsors and could not secure any due to the COVID-19 situation. Nevertheless, my team was a huge source of motivation which helped me to stay on and see the conference through. My message to the participants is: don’t be afraid to take the first step towards climate action. However small it is, it will have a huge impact on the overall efforts of fighting climate change.
What are the team’s hopes for the global climate agenda and COP 26 next year 2021?
Justin: Next year marks the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement coming into force, and countries are supposed to increase their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Some have already done so. However, many challenges in implementation and enforcement remain, and ‘creative’ green accounting still masks inequities and glacial progress. The world has also been on a de-globalisation trend over the past few years, with heightened right-wing populism, anti-immigration sentiment, and reduced global trade and cooperation. Nevertheless, I am hopeful that the long-term arc of the moral universe continues to bend towards justice. The book “Factfulness'' presents ironclad evidence that the world has gotten better over history. Humans are fundamentally social and cooperative, and I think we will eventually come together to solve the problem of climate change.
Valerie: I am hoping to see more bold and responsible actions by our leaders to take necessary actions for sustainable growth at every level - subnational, national, regional, and global. We need more advocacy by our youth peers for the global climate agenda because ultimately we will be inheriting the world from our seniors. It is imperative that we learn now from each other and those before us, proper stewardship of the limited natural resources we have been blessed with, so that no one gets left behind.
The MYD was established in 2015 with the objective of representing the local youth climate movement at international climate conferences in the UN. We strive to raise awareness of climate policies amongst Malaysians and engage with government.
Follow MYD on their website: https://mydclimate.org/