It was a rush to enter through the gates among the throngs of eager participants and obtain our official observer passes. We arrived as the opening Plenary Session was commencing and joined the back of the tent to hear the opening speech from last year’s French COP President. She laid down the premise of this meeting – action and progress for the Paris Agreement with a focus on one of the most affected and under prepared regions, Africa. The hand over to this year’s Moroccan President saw a call to be more ambitious in our negotiations and actions. He addressed the need to focus on the most vulnerable populations in order to move forward as a whole. An African proverb rang true: The sun does not ignore a village just because it is small. Whilst this early entry into the Paris Agreement is hugely positive and encouraging it is also clear that it is not an easy path forward and much will be held in the follow through of our words here this week.
The importance of this theme became clear as we visited the exhibits and side events throughout the day. The continent of Africa is responsible for just 4% of the world’s Greenhouse Gas emissions, yet it contains six of the ten most severely affected countries. Already there are 10 million climate refugees here in Africa and 65% of the population is affected by climate change. These sobering facts left me marveling yet again at the inequalities of this world. However depressing, the day was filled with optimism and positivity. Morocco appears to be leading by example with a strong determination to fight this battle, as shown by their policies and grand welcome to Marrakech.
It feels great to be here as a representative of the youth. The reality is ours to live with. I was inspired to hear from some youth delegates who here as members of their nations Party. There are 26 countries present that invited some youth along with their delegation. It seems so important to do this to reflect the age distribution of society and to encompass the perspectives of the younger generation. They are in close proximity to the decision makers and can give us a voice.
Nothing to mention yet on forestry though guys, don’t worry everybody here seems to know that trees are pretty important and damn cool… I’m sure I’ll find something for you tomorrow. Alright I’m off to enjoy the fruits from the rooftop of our beautiful hostel. Good night.