SG Youth Delegation meets Ambassador Kwok in Lima
The evening before Day 1 of COP 20, the Singapore Youth Delegation had the privilege of meeting Ambassador Kwok Fook Seng (Singapore’s Chief Negotiator). We were thankful for the opportunity to have an enlivening chat with Ambassador Kwok, who fielded questions on issues ranging from universal participation in the fight against climate change and public consultation, to Article 6 and the importance of education.
Ambassador Kwok started off the discussion by contextualising the climate change negotiations leading up to COP21 in Paris next year. There was an opportunity to build an agreement which could bring the major emitters on board. The present state of the global economy presented different circumstances at the national level for each country. Nevertheless, countries would have to work together to reconcile such competing pressures in order to step up on mitigation efforts for a successful Paris agreement. Ambassador Kwok impressed upon us how Singapore’s desire for universal participation in the 2015 Paris Protocol stemmed from our belief in the importance of upholding the primacy of the UN system. It was also particularly important for the global climate negotiations to maintain credibility with a Paris agreement which was upheld by all Parties to the UNFCCC. Climate change is a global problem that the international community needs to tackle together.
Ambassador Kwok also drew on his personal experiences when sharing his views on Article 6 and the importance of education in tackling climate change. For example, Ambassador Kwok drew a comparison between recycling habits in Geneva, Switzerland (where he lived for four years) and Singapore. In general, the culture of recycling is far more advanced and ingrained in the habits of Swiss citizens as compared to Singapore. Recycling efforts in Geneva are also far more comprehensive than in Singapore. For example, in Geneva, sorting out your own recyclables is mandatory, and residents have to take their recyclables to the recycling facility on their own. In contrast, Singapore provides large recycling bins in every housing estate and all that is required of residents is placing their recyclables in the bin at their doorstep. Although there is much to admire about the recycling habits of the Swiss, Ambassador Kwok shared that much of these environmentally friendly practices are enforced by law. It was interesting to reflect on whether a carrot or stick approach to entrenching environmentally friendly behaviour was more sustainable and suited to Singapore’s context.
Ambassador Kwok also spoke about the importance of public consultation and incorporation of public feedback during the policymaking process. As members of the public, youths have the capacity to influence and encourage positive changes in the fight against rising global temperatures. This was very encouraging, and we hope to gain insights from other youths attending COP20 and bring fresh ideas back to Singapore to further inspire and empower other youths to make constructive changes within their community.
We wish to thank Ambassador Kwok for taking the time to meet with us and for sharing his valuable thoughts and insights.