Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Morocco gears up for COP 22

By Edmund Smith-Asante, Marrakech
Mr Abdeslam Bekrate addressing the African journalists at the COP 22 site in Marrakech.
 The Head of Logistics, Security and Safety at the Ministry of the Interior, Morocco, Mr Abdeslam Bekrate, has indicated Morocco’s readiness to host the 22nd United Nations Conference of Parties Climate Change Conference (COP 22) in November this year.

Speaking to a group of African journalists at the site of the conference scheduled to take place in Marrakech from November 7 to November 18, 2016 known as the Bab Ighli, Mr Bekrate said infrastructure for the conference which will take €45 million to construct, will only take up 25 hectares of the 60 hectare land space allocated.

Most part of the remaining space at the climate change village would be dedicated to parking, while the infrastructure would include two large meeting rooms, several other syndicate rooms, a restaurant and exhibition space.

The COP 22 Site Plan.
When the journalists visited in mid-July, the sewerage and water systems for the village had already been completed and the first batch of materials for construction were expected the next day by train from Casablanca for the second phase of construction to begin.

Construction would be done by a mix of foreign contractors with experience in providing similar infrastructure at previous conferences in Peru and France, as well as local contractors using prefabricated materials, which would all be dismantled once the conference is over.

The deadline for construction of the conference facility is October 15, 2016, and the group of journalists were assured that the project could be finished in three months.

Topics for discussion
According to Mr Bekrate, 10 main topics expected to be the focus of the global climate change conference include, women empowerment, finance and climate, water, climate and immigration,  

The Minister of the Interior, Mr Mohamed Hassad, said adequate plans had been put in place to ensure the security of the over 20,000 delegates and over 1,500 journalists who would cover the over 10-day climate change conference.

He also assured that all technical difficulties associated with travel from other African countries to Morocco would be effectively dealt with to ensure smooth travel of delegates to COP 22.

For his part, the Delegate Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Nasser Bourita, said messages had been sent to from the organising committee all of Morocco’s embassies and consulates around the world to facilitate easy travel of delegates to the conference.

“Because COP 22 is an emblem for Africa, it is very important for Africa, it is a priority for Africa because all the problems that are going to be discussed in COP 22 are relate to Africa as well,” he stated.

Touching on security, Mr Bourita said the ministry was collaborating with all the security services to ensure an incident free and successful conference for all the delegates.  

Press movement
In an interaction with some officials of the steering committee of COP 22, the journalists were told that as “the venue itself would operate as a UN territory, so the measures that would be put here would be as if you were at a UN General Assembly in New York.

The journalists in a group photo after visiting the COP 22 site.
“With 1,500 press, it is not possible for 1,500 press to be at the opening ceremony so the organiserd of the media will take representatives from different groups and as space will allow they would go to the opening ceremony.”

The committee said with the exception of specific meetings where there was going to be a select number of representatives, there would be free movement of everywhere for the press at the venue of the conference.

An official of the UN and member of the committee, Mr Yafei Gang, stated that the focus of COP 22 would be to implement the Paris Agreement, adding that the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon, was pushing for more ratification for the agreement by member countries by October 7, 2016. 

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