My experience in Marrakesh- COP 22
Touching down at King Mohammed IV Airport in Casablanca made me realise that I had finally arrived in the Kingdom of Morocco, a country in North Africa that was tasked with the immense responsibility of being the hosts of the COP22 in Marrakesh from the 7th to 18th of November 2016. After travelling by road from Casablanca for about two and a half hours we eventually arrived in Marrakesh, the venue of the COPP22, which was going to be my home for the coming nine days.
After some verbal enquiries, I discovered that Marrakesh is a major city of the Kingdom of Morocco. It is the fourth largest city in the country after Casablanca, Fes and Tangier. It is the capital city of the mid-south-western region of Marrakesh-Safi. Located to the north of the foothills of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains, Marrakesh is located 580 km (360 mi) southwest of Tangier, 327 km (203 mi) southwest of the Moroccan capital of Rabat, 239 km (149 mi) south of Casablanca, and 246 km (153 mi) northeast of Agadir.
After settling a bit I went straight to business. I met my fellow comrades who had arrived earlier and I was amazed by the comfort hospitality that they showed me. At this moment I was very excited to be part of this small, important, vibrant and humble group of comrades who had taken some time from their busy schedules to travel thousands of miles to this northern African country to play a part in the decisions that will decide the future of the planet.
From the onset, the message was clear, “climate justice for all.” This I could not argue with, because to me climate justice was urgent and the delay meant, accelerating the planet’s death sentence. I learnt that climate justice involved, the respect and protection of environmental and human rights, support for the right for countries to develop, sharing of benefits and burdens equitably, ensure that decisions on climate change are participatory, transparent and accountable, highlight gender equality and equity and the use of effective partnerships to secure climate justice.
The first exciting event was the 10-kilometre march for climate justice that was organised by the Moroccan Coalition for Climate Justice. Although the march was poorly organised and did not meet the expectations of a definition a march, the takeaway point was that people from all over the world gathered to demand that an effective climate justice is finally put in place.
I later discovered that there is a need for solidarity with a purpose if the end is to be met, and the targets that coalitions and movements set for themselves were to be very realistic. Fighting extractivism and promoting the use of alternatives to extraction is, indeed, the key to unlock the doors to sustainable climate justice.
I was humbled to be given an opportunity to share our work in Zimbabwe as Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG). It was a pleasing moment to see the audience carefully following the presentation as well as being emotional when seeing pictures from the remote area of Chiadzwa Marange that at one point in time during the past supplied 25% of the world’s diamonds, but today it is one of the poorest areas in Zimbabwe. This showed me that we are not alone in Zimbabwe fighting the use of unjust exploitation of our minerals, corporate impunity as well as state-sponsored violence in extractive areas. All the presentations I attended at the University of Marrakesh were worth the time.
The visit to the “green zone”, an area were exhibitions from most stakeholders were being showcased, showed how capitalism was adapting to harness more profit in the name of fighting for climate change.
The declaration that was read on the 17th of November 2016 made me realise that respect for the environment is the starting point to achieve a long lasting and sustainable climate justice.
Another point that interested me was the need to have active and determined solidarity within the movements and coalitions so as to fight the battles with a shared vision and hope.
It was sad that the reading and adaptation of the declaration marked the end of our stay in Marrakesh, as well as the end of the COP22, which failed to live up to the expectations of many including me. As they say in Africa, “If you close your eyes to facts, you will learn through accidents” I embraced all the facts I got in Morocco and I left the country a wiser individual.
Tapuwa O’bren Nhachi – Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG)
COP refers to the Conference of the Parties. These are the yearly conferences held in terms of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is aimed at reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. The Conference of the Parties (COP) was designated as the supreme governing body of the Convention. This is the 22nd year that the conference is being held, hence COP-22. COP-22 was held in Marrakech, Morrocco, from 14th to 18th November 2016.