The organisation would thus make its presence felt at many meetings and dialogues with policymakers on matters of importance for the environment. Gurmit would also attend various meetings around the country, presenting papers at the CAP/SAM Conference in Penang, participating in Standards and Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia (SIRIM) national sub-committee meetings and speaking to students on climate change.
From the year 1996, CETDEM also helped to co-ordinate numerous groups nationally and regionally, including the Malaysian Organic Farming Network and the Malaysian Climate Change Group.
But more significantly, Gurmit was beginning to represent CETDEM and Malaysia at some crucial meetings on the international stage. He represented the Climate Action Network — South East Asia at various meetings, including the Adhoc Group on the Berlin Mandate and COP2 in Geneva in 1996. This was a significant representation, considering the AGBM was set up at COP1 to conduct the talks that led to the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol. [COP is the Conference of Parties, the annual meeting of the 192 signatory countries to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.] While these days the COP meetings are more well-known due to increasing awareness on climate change, in these earlier days Gurmit was already there taking notes on global developments.
In this important series of international meetings, Gurmit would attend the COP3 meetings in Kyoto and in Bonn. He would also carry on these links and continuity on to COP4 in 1997, and all the subsequent COP meetings until 2010, with the exception of COP14 in 2008. Quite simply, he has been Malaysia’s eyes and ears on the international debate on the environment and climate change since the beginning.
But he would not just listen. Gurmit also attended the experts meeting of the Basel Convention and presented papers on technology and the environment at gatherings related to integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) and sustainable energy, among many others.
As our foremost expert on organic farming, Siew, meanwhile, attended the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) Training Workshop
in Manila in 1996, as well as its Conference and World Assembly in Copenhagen in August that year.
It would also be a moment of pride when CETDEM’s headway in organic farming was recognised in 1997 — it was appointed as a founder member of the National Committee on Organic Farming under the Ministry of Agriculture.
And that is not all. Chairman Mano Maniam would also represent the organisation at a dialogue with the Ministry of Energy, Telecommunications and Post in June, 1997. When the ministry changed into the Ministry of Energy, Communications & Multimedia in 1998, CETDEM submitted two proposals, one to increase public awareness of energy efficiency over a 10-month period, and the second to establish and operate a solar-smart house. The public, and more significantly, the authorities in Malaysia, were now listening to what CETDEM had to say.