Ambassadors on Bikes: European Union Holds “EU Climate Diplomacy Day” at Taylor’s University

Thirteen EU Ambassadors came together at the Lakeside Campus for the “Connecting the Dots: Fighting Climate Change” event to highlight the need to support the Paris Agreement.

Ambassadors on Bikes at Taylor’s University, with Prof Perry Hobson (PVC-GE) at Taylor’s University for EU Climate Diplomacy Day 

Climate change is going to be one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century, and there are already significant implications for the foreign policies of many countries. As the EEC points out, “Increasing water scarcity, additional flooding and extreme weather events directly threaten the livelihoods of millions worldwide and, in some cases, force people to migrate or trigger violent conflict”. A stronger role for foreign policy in international climate policy has been called for through what has now been termed ‘climate diplomacy’. In 2016, the Council of the European Union (EU) defined three strands that climate diplomacy has to build upon. First, to continue to advocate for climate change as a strategic priority in diplomatic dialogues.  Second, to support the implementation of the Paris Agreement, in the context of low-emission and climate resilient development. Third, to increase efforts to address the nexus between climate, natural resources, prosperity, stability and migration. The first Climate Diplomacy Day was initiated by Germany, the UK and France and was held on September 9th, 2014 (with parallel events taking place in over 30 countries). It has since been supported by EU delegations around the world, and has been extended to a week of activities in certain countries. In Malaysia, the first event was held at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) in 2015. This year, Her Excellency María Castillo Fernández, the Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Malaysia, along with thirteen other national Ambassadors from Austria, Belgium, Croatia, The Czech Republic, France, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Romania, Spain and the UK (along with representatives from other EU Embassies such as The Netherland, Sweden and Denmark) came together at the Taylor’s Lakeside campus. After a warm welcome from Professor Perry Hobson, the Pro Vice-Chancellor for Global Engagement (PVC-GE), the event was formally opened by Dato’ Sr. Dr. Azimuddin Bahari, the Deputy Secretary General (Environmental Management), of the Malaysian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. He then joined an interactive panel session led by Matthias Gelber, who is better known as “Mr Green”. Originally from Germany, he is someone in Malaysia who is known to be passionate about environmental issues. The other panelists included Mr Anthony Tan, Exec Director of CETDEM, Dr Kannan Narayanan, a Research Fellow at Taylor’s University, and also Anthony Wong who owns the Frangipani Resort in Langkawi.  The lecture theatre was filled with students not only from Taylor’s University, but also from a range of other institutions including University of Malaya, Sunway University, Monash University, IIUM, and the University of Technology Petronas amongst others. The Ambassadors each signed a plague commemorating the event, planted a tree in the “EU Climate Change Garden” and completed a symbolic bike ride around the Lakeside campus. These events were co-ordinated by Edward Chong who leads the sustainability initiatives at TU, and students from the Taylor’s Nature Club. HE María Castillo Fernández said, “The Forum was well received and elicited a lively discussion that will no doubt generate ideas for practical solutions……We look forward to working with Taylor’s University again on climate change and other areas of mutual interest”. For more information on sustainability initiatives at Taylor’s University click here – (Global Matters 2017)