#PowerShiftMsia Part 1: Interview with Adrian Yeo

This December, we anticipate one of the biggest climate-related events in Malaysia. #PowerShiftMsia brings together 200 passionate youths under one roof, to equip them with skills needed to lead people-powered climate action. This will be a multi-part series featuring various aspects of #PowerShiftMsia. For Part 1, we had the opportunity to interview Adrian Yeo, the initiator of #PowerShiftMsia.

#PowerShiftMsia is a local initiative born out of Global Power Shift, a global movement of young people eager to push for urgent action on our climate crisis. Global Power Shift was initiated and is being led by 350.org, a youth-led network co-founded by environmental writer Bill McKibben.

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In June 2013, an international group of climate leaders and young activists met in Istanbul. The week-long summit saw them refining their skills and creating personal bonds and community. They shared a global vision for change, and strategized how to organize different actions and similar summits back home.

Adrian Yeo was one of the participants of Global Power Shift, who upon his return to Malaysia started to organize #PowerShiftMsia. He is a community organizer and an advocate to strengthening of civil society, active in engaging local environment, energy and resource campaigns. Adrian is a committee member of RakanKL, a volunteer group promoting the love of Kuala Lumpur’s history & heritage. He recently spoke on TEDxMerdekaSquare promoting civil society movement building.

Tell us a little about your journey that has led to climate change movements, including your involvement in #PowerShiftMsia.

I was a Boy Scout growing up in KL. We went trekking and camping in the jungles around Selangor. During the trips we kept meeting patches of cleared forests and heard stories of how the animals and trees were sacrificed in the name of development. This started me on the journey to learn more and spend more time in these natural habitats before they are gone.

I worked for YOUNGO as the Youth Logistics Coordinator at UNFCCC’s COP15 in Copenhagen, and actively participated at various UNFCCC & UNCSD (Rio+20) meetings and conferences. I was an official presenter of Al Gore’s The Climate Reality Project (TCRP), in which I underwent in-depth training under Mr. Gore on the issue of climate crisis.

In June 2013 I was a participant of 350.org’s Global Power Shift, in Istanbul, to catalyze powerful national movements calling for bold climate action. Now I am back, organizing Malaysia’s own Power Shift so that we can begin serious work on climate and environmental issues in 2014.

Volunteers are already hard at work. It is a tremendous undertaking, but we are confident that we will make it.

If you could choose one word to describe the condition of our environment today, what would it be?

Tipping Point (wait that’s two). We are nearing the tipping point of no return. Take action today or live with the regret of climate chaos in the future.

Why do you think that the Power Shift Movement is important for our Earth?

Having attended a few UN Climate Change Talks, it dawned on me that the REAL change must happen at the grassroots level. If we wish to see any safe climate future, we need to build a strong, youth-led climate movement in Malaysia. A movement to strive for sustainable development, clean renewable energy, better management of our forest and wildlifes, and compulsory environment education for our future generations.

Where do you think Malaysians stand when it comes to environmental awareness?

If you ask 10 Malaysians on the street, 9 will agree with you that we need to recycle and do good for the environment. The awareness is high, but the motivation for taking action is low. We lack the infrastructure for people to do the right thing. Recycling centres or bins are hidden in corners, we have a disconnected public transportation system, water & electricity utilities are highly subsidised thus leading to high wastage. We need to stop talking and start doing.


What should participants expect out of #PowerShiftMsia?

#PowerShiftMsia will be a gathering of many community organisers who are leading campaigns and doing good work in their own cities, kampungs or schools. More often than not we have the feeling that we are fighting this battle alone. Coming together during 10-15 December can be a great time to network with the other fellow climate change campaigners and to recharge our spirits.

#PowerShiftMsia will also empower participants with a variety of workshops, including digital campaigning, policy and governance, media literacy, and creative activism. Participants will learn about democracy and civil rights, the theory of change, and the storytelling skills needed to bring about effective change.

What is the long term goal of #PowerShiftMsia?

The goal of #PowerShiftMsia is to shift our reliance on dirty energy to clean energy, by empowering people to push for the change that they wish to see. The attendees of #PowerShiftMsia will learn important skills and champion a movement to effectively confront the climate crisis faced by our planet.

If you had a chance to inspire a group of youth with just one quote, what would it be?

Buat Kerja Cepat-Cepat
Stop Talking, Start Doing.


Want to participate or volunteer? More information here, or you can check out #PowerShiftMsia’s website.