Updated

11/8/16 Post-Weekend Roundup: COP22 Kicks Off in Marrakesh – Jordana Merran

Jordana Merran
November 8, 2016

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In our last roundup, King Mohammed VI’s recent East Africa tour was top of the list. Now, East Africa—and the rest of the world—is in Morocco, for the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22):

  • “A perfect place for the world’s biggest climate change conference.” That’s what Quartz said of Marrakesh, Morocco yesterday, when world leaders convened in the Ochre City for COP22. We couldn’t agree more. Morocco has proven itself a real climate change champion, from its ambitious solar power plans (a “tough act to follow,” according to Reuters) to the greening of mosques to ocean advocacy. A lot will be discussed at this year’s summit, which Morocco has dubbed the “COP of action”; beyond implementing the historic Paris Agreement and pushing emissions cuts, participants are wading into issues like sustainable agriculture, access to water, and desertification—issues that hit Africa especially hard. That’s why in a November 6 speech, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI reminded listeners that COP22 “is a conference for Africa.” Stay tuned for more as the conference continues through November 18.
  • A 41st anniversary, but a royal first. Though it came the day before the opening of COP22, the King’s November 6 speech actually marked a different, epic moment in Moroccan history: the Green March, when some 350,000 Moroccan citizens peacefully reclaimed the territory from Spanish colonizers in 1975. Though King Mohammed has made speeches on every Green March anniversary, this time he spoke from Dakar, Senegal, in a clear show of the growing international support for Moroccan sovereignty in the Western Sahara, as well as the success of the country’s African foreign policy.  It came just two months after the country officially applied to rejoin the African Union (AU). Check out our press release and recent op-ed on the subject for more analysis.
  • Coalition-building continues, still. Almost exactly a month to the day after Moroccans voted in their second legislative elections since the 2011 Constitutional reform, Morocco’s newly reappointed Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane of the Justice and Development Party (PJD) has yet to finalize a governing coalition, reports AFP. No need to be nervous, though. As we have previously noted, it took more than a month for a majority government to emerge after the November 2011 legislative elections. And we believe that Morocco is still on course.
  • Protests underline what’s going right in Morocco. Moroccans took to the streets across the country last week to protest the death of a fishmonger who, according to reports, was killed in a trash compactor when municipal authorities threw his illegal stock of swordfish into the back of the truck. Western news outlets feverishly wondered whether this might lead to round two of the Arab Spring. But yet again the country showed its commitment to peaceful reform. Authorities have launched an investigation into the incident (which is ongoing—several people have been arrested in connection to the case), the King and other leaders shared their disappointment and condolences, and protests went on peacefully and without government interference. As one Moroccan writer put it, “These protests represent a key step in the affirmation of citizenship.”

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