A Moment for Africa

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The Bab Ighli COP22 Village in Marrakech, Morocco, is expected to play host to several heads of state today, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf included, for the commencement of the High-Level Segment of the conference called the African Action Summit.

The segment will take place with an opening ceremony in the presence of the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, UN SG Ban Ki-moon, scores of heads of state and government and participating delegations. Most of the African heads of state are expected.

The opening day’s segment will include the reading of the “Call of Marrakech,” which is a call to action that is the result of a highly inclusive consultative process among the parties.

Today also marks the first session of the Conference of the Parties, serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA1).

Following the historic announcement on October 5 by the United Nations that the threshold for ratification of the Paris Agreement had been achieved, leaders are now preparing to get down to discuss actions.

It is no coincidence that the world has decided to converge in Morocco at this time because Morocco is one of the most progressive African countries on climate policy and action.

In 2011, the kingdom revised its constitution to add the right to a healthy environment and sustainable development. Earlier this year, Morocco opened a massive array of solar energy, which is already serving 160-megawatts of solar power that will be increased to a 580-megawatt capacity.

The US$9 billion solar power plant should be ready in 2018 to serve one million Moroccans with clean, sustainable electricity. By 2030, 52 percent of the country’s energy ought to come from renewable energy sources, as outlined in the kingdom’s current energy strategy.

Morocco’s renewable energy initiatives are being propelled, partly, by the kingdom’s government phasing out subsidies in favour of solar and other renewable energies.

Some 40 percent of the 33 million Moroccans living in the kingdom are currently engaged in agriculture, most of it small scale. These farmers can’t explain whether climate change is “man-made or carbon pollution,” but they certainly feel its effects like their African counterparts
across the continent.

There are also several other African countries such as Sudan, Ethiopia, and others in central Africa, as well as in the south-eastern corner and some parts of West Africa, that are suffering similar consequences of climate change such as severe droughts and reduced plant growth.

This is why COP22 has been dubbed by many, especially the Moroccan government, as the “African COP.” COP22 President Salaheddine Mezouar has stressed that the voices of the African people desperately need to be heard.

And moreover, this is why African leaders who are coming need to chart a better way forward to replicate what Morocco is or has been doing.

Officially opening the conference last Monday, Mezouar, also Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation sent a strong message to world leaders calling for more action.

Mezouar said the rest of Africa, especially Sub-Saharan Africa, must see the conference as critical with high expectations on climate finance, capacity-building, and technology transfer.

He added that one of the major initiatives which will be the focus of COP22 is Morocco’s Adaptation of African Agriculture “AAA.” This initiative is designed to drive climate finance and technology solutions to smallholder farmers across Africa.

Another major focus will be on building climate change resilience for poor and vulnerable countries. To this end, the Paris Committee on Capacity Building was established during the previous COP.

With recent news that developed countries are on track to provide developing nations with US$100 billion a year to tackle climate change by 2020, climate finance will be a crucial component at these discussions.

Meanwhile, Mezouar and UNFCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa held a joint press conference to mark the halfway point of COP22—taking stock of progress at the conference prior to the High Level Segment.

Mezouar announced that 105 parties have now deposited their instruments of ratification of the Paris Agreement, constituting an important political signal in the fight against climate change.

He also called on the remaining parties to follow suit. At the halfway point of COP22, slated to wrap up on November 18, the COP22 President spoke in a positive tone, saying, “Negotiations are exemplified by a highly inclusive and consultative process among all parties.”

UNFCCC’s Espinosa disclosed at the conference that “more than 90 countries have moved from Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to formal Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).”

Meanwhile, the UN Secretary-General will brief the press just prior to the opening of the High Level Segment of COP 22.

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