The First Step to Bridging the Gap Between Youth and Policy Makers for Climate Action in Malaysia

The youth have been blaming politicians for not doing enough with regards to climate change. Politicians have been blaming the youth for not working, sorry, slaving their ass off into (dirty) politics.

Blaming won’t get us anywhere—though it has given us an insight into the problem.

And the problem has been a lack of civil, respectful and thoughtful communication.

Slow to Care, Slow to React

For years, there have been talks after talks about the climate crisis.

I know because I was a part of the youth climate policy group, the Malaysian Youth Delegation, and have been keeping tabs on the goings-on in the climate scene.

From my perspective, despite the dedicated work done by those who have been in the environmental sector for decades a.k.a. the OGs, forests continue to be degazetted and cut down, waste management is getting poorer, and our waters continue to be polluted.

It seems the government still does not care for the environment.

And so, the problems have gotten worse and now we’re dealing with the mammoth that is climate change.

Following the Paris Accord in 2005, it seems that the government of Malaysia is just about to take this seriously. Without the pressure from the whole world, basically, I bet that politicians and corporations would continue to pillage the earth without mercy.

Politicians Work For The People, But The People Have to Do the Work First

Thankfully, the youth of today seems to be able to grasp the severity of the situation much quicker than the older generation.

We have less than 10 years to limit climate change catastrophe. And despite the Paris Agreement and the climate actions targets by participating countries, we’re not on track to keeping global heating to 1.5C.

On my end, I feel like I’m doing a lot as an individual.

  • I am vegan so I don’t eat meat, dairy or eggs

  • I don’t purchase single-use plastics

  • I segregate my waste

  • I don’t buy shit I don’t need

An individual’s actions matter.

But that needs to be compounded to collective action for global warming to be kept well below 1.5C.

Not everyone is doing what I’m doing. And that’s mainly because we’re so used to the old ways and that there's little to no incentive by the government to encourage eco-friendly practices within the community.

So it’s up to the eco-conscious people to inspire the community.

It’s up to the people, particularly youth, to start mobilizing so that the politicians could see that we mean serious business.

Hey Government, Listen to the Youth of Malaysia

Last week, I attended two virtual events that had a similar theme: the participation of youth in climate policy or decision-making process.

The events were:

  1. A panel discussion on youths in the decision-making process hosted by EcoKnights Project Vocal

  2. The climate reset dialogue hosted by Glober Shapers KL

For me, the first event felt like a motivational talk whereby the panellists shared their experiences in attending policy-making processes like at the UNFCCC events.

The second event was more of a how-to discussion to promote youth involvement in climate policy and solutions.

Both of the events highlighted that there hasn’t been a solid platform for youth to properly voice out their concerns to the policy-makers or the Malaysian government in terms of the climate crisis.

There is, however, a growing effort to combat this problem and bridge the gap between youth-led organisations and the government. This effort is in the form of the Malaysian Youth Climate Action Pact (MYCAP).

A Youth-led Initiative to Combine All Youth Forces and Connect to the Government

MYCAP highlighted 5 main problems that drove their formation, which are:

  1. Youth NGOs are working in silos

  2. There’s no partnership with any ministries

  3. There’s no national narrative on climate action

  4. Lack of resources

  5. Lack of media coverage

They hope to increase the rate of youth consultation between relevant ministries.

In the meantime, this kind of dialogue is necessary to collect information and acknowledge youth voices.

Immediately after the second event, there was an invite-only debrief session whereby participants were split into separate breakout rooms to discuss their thoughts on climate change and solutions. The session was recorded and the data would be collected as a report to be sent to the World Economic Forum.

I’m not too sure what would the outcome of the report be.

Would it act as proof to the government that Malaysian Youth wants their voices to be heard? Or would it just be a mere formality to add to research data?

I don’t know.

But what I do know is that the events were a step forward to engage with the policy-makers in a more consistent manner.