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My first COP

[This post is part of a series offered by IECA members attending COP22 in Marrakech.]

Marrakech is certainly an atmospheric location for COP22 and the old town Medina, the souks, pumping music and motorbikes provide a marked contrast to the highly structured and sedate environment of the COP. 

Much of the discussion in the UNFCCC events is generally dry and technical, as befits a UN mega-event.

The reporting at both the multilateral assessments and Ad Hoc Committee on implementation was as dry as the surrounding Marrakech desert.

Most of the comments and suggestions from parties were largely complimentary of the committees and parties on their hard work.  This seems fair enough given that much of it appears to consist of wading through a morass of procedural and technical matter.

The oases of the venue are certainly the side events and countries pavilion.  The IECA booth is a modest affair, but convivial, as it is a shared space with the Mediators Beyond Borders crew, and Gregg Walker is playing a well-practiced role as connector and host. 

The side event schedule is enormous and hugely varied, with dozens of panels, presentations and speakers from a wide range of organisations.

Indeed the tenor of the discussions so far, while of course technical in many respects, is clearly focusing issues of implementation – loss and damage, mitigation and adaption, new technologies and finance measures, for example. 

Fewer discussions however are focused on our main concerns of the human, social and communicative aspects of Paris Agreement implementation.

A side event this morning focused on discussing the place of animal agriculture within emissions reduction and sustainability generally.  This discussion highlighted the risks of parties simply coming to international negotiations to represent the interest of their domestic live stock industries.  In several examples (Ireland, my own New Zealand) the exclusion of agriculture from carbon markets and the greenwash associated with ‘climate smart agriculture’ and plantation forest mono-culture offset strategies was identified as undermining of the sound and sustainable implementation of the Paris Agreement.

For me, the message of this side event was clear – the role of policy-focused environmental communicators is vital as the international community moves to Paris Agreement implementation.  Indeed, both persistent and penetrating analysis of policy, and of talk about such policy remains a central imperative for the effective, sustainable and transparent implementation of measure to achieve the ambition of the Paris Agreement.

About the Author: 

Giles Dodson
Communication Studies
Unitec Institute of Technology
New Zealand

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