I know that many people around me have been left disillusioned after attending the climate talks, and are concerned that COP18 will again leave much to be desired. Regardless of circumstantial constraints, we cannot lose faith inus…” While many young people left Doha impatient and disillusioned, Jamie Seah has come away feeling proud and inspired, despite being one of the young people shut out of the talks for being too young.
I believe I’ve spent a good part of the last 5 years doing diverse things, but the single accomplishment I’m most proud of would be organizing last year’s COY at the Qatar Foundation’s Student Center.
Asian youth presence has generally been weaker at COP, both in numbers and in voice - I won’t try to justify why, but I’m glad to have provided an Asian perspective in the COY organizing team, as well as helped people with directions or instructions during COY in my capacity as a Mandarin Chinese speaker.
COY and Doha in general have provided me with so many new experiences, and I’m honestly grateful to have the opportunity to work with local Qataris and climate campaigners from the UKYCC and the AYCC to bottom-line COY. As bottom-liners, we worked on the conference program, finalizing keynote speakers, selecting suitable workshops amongst other things. As I’m more of a media person, I was also in charge of the @WeAreCOY8 twitter handle, our Facebook page, and our email account, which was used mainly to contact workshop facilitators.
I’m proud of having contributed to COY because it is a brilliant place for people to mill about, interact and share experiences, in addition to attending the capacity-building workshops which certainly allowed for knowledge-sharing and the acquisition of new skills.
I’m proud of working towards bringing passionate climate activists together.
I’m proud of creating an environment for under-18s to experience an exhilarating 3 days, and for us to make friends. It was disappointing not being recognized for our dedication and efforts at COP, but at least we banded together during COY and formed a “Youth Access” Working Group to discuss pertinent issues and formulate plans for Young and Future Generations Day (YoFuGe). COP might have been a let-down, but COY was certainly not.
In Doha, I (regrettably) witnessed developed countries’ lack of commitment in the way the negotiations unravelled, until the “Doha Climate Gateway” was haphazardly mish-mashed together in a bid to finally end the climate talks, a day after they ran overtime. Civil society was an oppressed presence, with certain youth interventions being cut down to a mere minute and under-18s kept out from the conference venue. At the Intergenerational Inquiry, Mary Robinson lamented that the current situation was akin to the “Titanic moving towards the iceberg of 4 degrees”.
This is not what I envision COP18 to be - there needs to be a radical shift in attitudes of governments and the world, and quick.
I know that many people around me have been left disillusioned after attending the climate talks, and are concerned that COP18 will again leave much to be desired. Regardless of circumstantial constraints, we cannot lose faith in us - that means continuing to come together at COY, at COP in a strong show of solidarity. Youth representation definitely plays a pivotal role in changing mindsets and opinions at the climate talks.
Although we’re already well into 2013, memories of COP are still fresh in my mind. Philosopher Dan Dennett once averred, in ruminating on the secret of happiness,
“Find something more important than you are, and dedicate your life to it.”
In all honesty, before I leapt on a plane to Doha, I had no idea what I would want to spend the rest of my existence doing. Although I’m not 100% sure, I think I’ve found a cause worth fighting for.
- Jamie Seah