COP22 in Marrakech: A Time for Global Action

This week heads of state and foreign ministers, as well as leaders from the private sector, NGO community, and academia, are gathered in Marrakech for the twenty-second session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP22.

The Paris Agreement, adopted last year at COP21, was a defining moment in international climate negotiations. Now that the Paris Agreement has entered into force, COP22 is a meeting focused on action and implementation. Here in Marrakech we are focused on ways to drive ambitious action by governments, civil society, and the private sector to work in sync towards common goals.

 U.S. Ambassador Bush on November 14, 2016 at COP22 held in Marrakech, Morocco. [State Department Photo]

I truly believe that Morocco is the perfect host for this year’s COP. Under the leadership and vision of King Mohammed VI, Morocco has taken bold steps to becoming a leader in clean energy, committing to ensure that 52 percent of its generation capacity is from renewables by 2030. 

The most visible manifestation of these impressive efforts is the Noor Solar Complex, the first phase of which was inaugurated last February. When complete, Noor will be the world's largest concentrated solar power plant with the potential to produce enough energy to power over one million homes by 2018. Morocco’s national ban on plastic bags under the “Zero Mika” campaign is another example of its bold action to protect the environment. 

Renewable energy projects such as Noor, located near the town of Ouarzazate, are expected to reduce Morocco's long-term carbon emissions by millions of tons. [State Department Photo]

We are proud of our own collaboration with Morocco to protect its environment, particularly its national parks and forests. Through the first US-Morocco Sister Park initiative, we have linked the Great Basin National Park in Nevada with Toubkal National Park, located near Marrakech, to foster collaboration between two parks facing the similar environmental challenges.  The U.S. Forest Service and the Moroccan High Commission for Water, Forests, and the Fight Against Desertification have successfully collaborated to protect Morocco’s rich forests from forest fires. And during COP22, the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Government of Morocco partner, MCA-Morocco will highlight its $127 million dollar investment in sustainable industrial zones, including a discussion on how sustainable industrial zones can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The U.S. Mission to Morocco is also doing its part to support COP22’s goals through our support to local organizations and emerging Moroccan leaders who are putting environmental protection into practice. 

Young people from around Morocco are taking action through beach clean ups organized by associations, like Bahri. [State Department Photo]

For example, we are supporting Moroccan NGO Dar Si Hmad, which developed a way for rural women to convert fog to precious drinking water for remote communities in Southern Morocco. This innovative project is being recognized by a UN Climate Change award that highlights the contributions of women for change. We have also worked with social entrepreneur Saad Abid, who represented Morocco at Our Ocean Conference in Washington D.C. this year. Saad has channeled his passion for surfing into an impressive effort to protect Morocco’s rich coastline through his NGO Association Bahri, which means “My Ocean” in Arabic. 

We are also taking steps to reduce our carbon footprint at our Mission in Morocco. Our new Embassy was built to the US LEED standards, with the latest advances in energy and natural resource conservation. Camil Chaari, a high school student at the Rabat American School, started his own recycling program where he collects used batteries and printer cartridges that are turned into office supplies. This year our Embassy’s Green Team began recycling our printer carriages with this bright young Moroccan entrepreneur. 

The U.S. Embassy in Rabat when it was inaugurated in November 2014. [State Department Photo]

COP22 is a chance to demonstrate that together we can take action to protect our planet in a way that improves the lives and livelihoods of all citizens. And above all, this is an opportunity for all of us to take concrete steps towards leaving our children a better planet than the one that was left for us.

About the Author: Dwight L. Bush is the United States Ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco.

Editor's Note: The above was adapted from Ambassador Bush’s Welcome to COP22 video that was released via the Embassy Rabat’s Facebook page on November 11. You can view the entire video here. This entry also appeared on Medium.com.

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A member of Moroccan security stands guard next to flags of participating UN member states, on the entrance to the COP22 village, a day ahead of the opening ceremony, in Marrakech, Morocco.
Posted by Dwight L. Bush
November 17, 2016

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