Marrakech: Where Extraordinary Momentum Is Shown on Climate Change

Marrakech: Where Extraordinary Momentum Is Shown on Climate Change

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As a journalist, it’s an honour to cover global convergences particularly on climate change, which, today, is the biggest threat facing our globe.

But this year, at this COP of Action or the African COP, I have seen extraordinary momentum on climate change worldwide, and in many multilateral fora. Also, it’s at this COP, on the African soil, that the Paris Agreement has been put into force.

This momentum, in my view, is irreversible – it is being driven not only by governments, but by science, business and global action of all types at all levels.

commentary-2The beginning of COP22 in Morocco was celebrated by the lighting of the Hassan Tower in Rabat. And at 8pm, the city’s iconic landmark was lit in green as a sign of Morocco’s commitment to the fight against climate change and sustainable development throughout the Kingdom.

In July, when I visited the Bab Ighli village, a site that hosted the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) until November 18, in Marrakech, Morocco, no single construction had begun.

However, before the conference began on November 7, its development spans across 300,000 m², and was accomplished in less than 6 months.

Fifty-five (55) tents, assembled in less than 3 months constitute the COP22 village – the Bab Ighli, inclusive two distinct zones with thousands of participants participating in different conferences on the site from 196 countries.

Marrakech is a very beautiful city and once a traveler sets foot in it, he/she is awestruck by the contrast in colours; the ochre of its adobe city walls; and its bougainvillea – covered exteriors, from behind which great bouquets of palm trees and lush greenery burst forth.

This has given me an answer as to why the Moroccan government chooses this historic and magnificent city to host the global climate summit. It is a city of legend, cultural capital, and inspirer of artists, fashions and events.

Marrakech with its famous names, its luxurious palaces and its glittering nightlife is a tourist capital over a hundred years, cunning blends the treasures of its age-old heritage with the vibrant energy of living cultures. Many participants across the world today could attest to this naked reality as COP22 was recently wrapped-up.

At Bab Ighli village in Marrakech, in the Blue Zone, administered by the United Nations, there was a large canopy (700 meters in length and 26 meters in width) covering the main road, bordered by gardens, and off of which the various meeting and negotiation rooms are located, as well as two restaurants.

The interior development of the Blue Zone was conducted with total respect for UN protocol. The two large plenary halls, one of which included a traditional Moroccan door, were designed to welcome participants in an international and multicultural setting.

The Green Zone, with a surface area of more than 30,000m², was opened to the Civil Society and Innovation spaces. Representatives from various companies from Morocco and around the world were present along with NGOs, associations and civil society member groups.

Exhibitor stands were also assembled and the final touches of the exterior of the site were already done before the conference kicked off. Conference rooms and plenaries had also been functional since on the 7th November, 2016.

I arrived in Marrakech on November 10, and at Bab Ighli, I realized that the UNFCCC Media Centre occupies a significant chunk around the Blue Zone, an area designed for the international media to undertake its daily activities. This centre was where I did most of my stories as I corresponded from Marrakech.

On a final note, I want to affirm that the Global Environmental Community at the COP22 was not comfortable as Donald J. Trump is elected president of the United States. Mr. Trump’s stance on environment has always been controversial; for he repeatedly said that, when elected, he would cancel the US’s commitment to the historic Paris Agreement as he views climate change as a Chinese’s hoax in a bid to hinder the US from industrial competition.

In a press conferences with both the UNFCCC’S executive director, Patricia Espinosa and Ban Ki-moon, many journalists raised the question of how could it affect the efforts of the historic Paris Agreement if Mr. Trump cancels the America’s comment to the agreement.

However, they pointed out that the Paris Agreement has already been credible and irreversible.

Bekai Njie, just back from Morocco