By Jen Dawes
They say first impressions always count but yesterday I really hoped they didn’t. After arriving early in the day and settling into my Riad, I ventured out onto the streets of Marrakech. To say it was “busy” is a complete understatement…I encountered a myriad of alleys which were completely overwhelming, stall upon stall in the traditional souks, countless motorbikes and scooters zooming past, and an endless dialogue of locals searching for the next dirham. Needless to say, yesterday was all a bit much… until I met with my fellow week 1 delegates, Charlotte and Vicky. Marrakech suddenly became the wonderful location my friends had told me about, and I finally felt ready for COP22.
Day 1 was wet…very wet! Our morning walk to the shuttle bus in the Medina square left us feeling a little soggy (my shoes, in particular!), yet optimistic at what the day would bring (my shoes were less optimistic as they spent the day in the cloakroom trying to dry!). Upon a bus filled with very important “suits and ties”, I knew I was stepping into a world that had previously felt out of reach, yet today it was right in front of me. Everyone possessed such a charisma for climate change and the Paris Agreement that doesn’t seem to be present back home in Australia. This reinvigorated my sense of passion for working towards the targets and wanting to learn more from those involved.
As I went through security it felt like I had returned to the airport, but this time there was no plane…instead, a vast array of people from all over the world waiting to collect their accreditation. After investigating the many tents of COP22, I listened to the opening speech (broadcast to us in the non-Party tent) where the new COP President was instated, followed by a photo-op with the giant smiley globe, and a musical welcome to Morocco. Throughout the day, there was an overload of sessions to attend and many intriguing exhibits to view. The morning atmosphere was, however, somewhat disjointed as people were searching for rooms and discovering what side events were being held – something I hoped would pass as the surroundings became more familiar. As the afternoon settled in there was a distinct calm over the Blue Zone, and it seemed like everyone knew their place and was encouraged by their experiences throughout the day.
Today was an inspiring start to COP22 and it presented a positive outlook on the actions to be taken. My first impression of Marrakech had been completely put to bed and replaced with the fun interactions with locals and a confidence that was not to be seen yesterday. I look forward to a not-so-wet Day 2!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the International Forestry Students’ Association.