I am Farhana Shukor, a Malaysian youth advocate. I am the focal point of the Malaysian Youth Delegation (MYD) and a member of the Loss and Damage Youth Coalition (LDYC). I’m motivated and drawn into the environmental field because Malaysia’s sovereignty depends on a habitable earth, and with the climate crisis that is larger than all of us, I want to be part of the solution.
I’m Eqram Mustaqeen (Muya), part of the delegation to COP27, currently the capacity building member in Malaysian Youth Delegation (MYD). What drives me into the environmental field is the sense of responsibility. A lot of people who participate in environmental actions face struggles, they’ve been suffering from climate-induced disasters. I am privileged that I never faced all those tragedies, but the environment is our home, the earth is our home, responsibility for the environment and climate as a whole has to be imbued in every person.
I’m Michelle Seck, from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. I’m the head of Global Youth Action Policy at the World Food Forum, which is facilitated by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. I’m engaging in environmental action because food security is also climate action, the agriculture sector is the second largest contributor to the climate crisis, and I’m interested in making connections between food and the environment.
I am at COP27 because I want to learn about climate negotiations and policies. Since it is a heavily collaborative process, I will also want to learn the different perspective and approaches in the climate negotiation space.
This is my first COP experience. Farhana told me that COP is a circus, there are so many things going on at the same time. I hope to learn and absorb as much as possible throughout the circus. The second things that’s important for me is to make connections. As Malaysians, we are always polite and shy. So, branch out, be brave. I also wish to bring back the connections and try to benefit the local discourse and local action on climate change.
I am here at COP today to advocate on the food and agriculture topics, also to make new networks and learn about the connection between food and climate. In COP26, there was a huge criticism on the lack of topics on food systems. In COP27 this year, we’re partnering with several food pavilions, and it is the first time that food pavilions are present in COP.
Is this your first COP? How do you feel?
I had the opportunity to attend COP26 in Glasgow last year, that’s where I got my first insight into COP and the importance of the awareness on the climate negotiation process, and knowing Malaysian youth representatives, etc.
I’m expected to be nervous in such a big conference like COP27, especially at the age of 22 years old. Sometimes we have this stigma that young people aren’t up to the task, so it’s always nerve-wracking to prove people wrong and to prove that young people can actually offer something. I’m nervous because I have to deliver as much as possible, and because I was crowdfunded by the public. I feel like I am carrying the burden of the people, who trust me to gain as much as possible to bring back to Malaysia, as an investment for the country. There’s definitely pressure there which adds to the nervousness I already have, but it’s always good to be under pressure, just like coal, when it’s under pressure it becomes diamond, hopefully I can be a diamond.
It is my first time at COP, and I feel extremely privileged to be here as a young person, but also very overwhelmed and a little bit frustrated at COP27. It was way more complex than I expected. There’s a lot of things to follow, a lot of side events, a lot of different zones, but all in all it’s also a good experience to be in this international field, to connect with a lot of different people from different backgrounds.
Revealing the “real COP” – did it meet your expectations?
Since COP27 was in Egypt, there was the expectation of including the loss and damage agenda into the conference. Thankfully, they did. I hope this will encourage further inclusion of loss and damage in the future agendas, and facilitate loss and damage training.
Like I said earlier, COP is overwhelming, it is a circus with a lot of things. I thought I would have a hard time being involved and I was prepared for that, but everything went well. Besides, I had expected COP to be an implementation platform. That’s true to an extent, but sometimes it can be frustrating because there are a lot of discussions but a lack of actions being taken. Hopefully, we can change that as in future COPs.
I came in with not that many expectations. The one thing that I was expecting was a larger focus on food and agriculture here at COP27. The topic of food systems is in the forefront this year, especially with the crisis of food prices and problems with our soils and water. However, we are still in a little bubble. Even though there are five pavilions this year, all discussions of the food system still seem to be fragmented, which make me realise that we need to break more silos between the different tracks and themes to make sure that we have a holistic approach when we talk about climate change and the climate crisis. Nevertheless, it is very motivating to find that people from different backgrounds have an interest in talking about the food systems.
Check out Part 2: Malaysian youths’ journey to COP27! Covering their takeaways and words to other youths.