Walking around the COP venue is sort of trippy, at least for the first day or so. 25,000 people were projected to attend, and it is wildly apparent once you arrive in the city of Marrakesh that the event has in fact taken over the city. Every taxi has a COP22 sticker on it; the horse-drawn carriages have wheels decorated with COP signs; and although I know nothing about Marrakesh in particular, I highly doubt it is usually so spotlessly clean with police and crossing guards standing at every intersection. That’s all to say, it’s definitely a carefully manicured experience.
Inside the venue, we’ve been spending most of our time in the Blue Zone. You need a badge to enter, and this is where all of the negotiations, official side events, and official exhibitions occur. There are always about 10 things happening simultaneously so we’ve been trying to spread ourselves out to make the most of it. On Tuesday, my schedule included helping out with the Nairobi Work Programme information session & brainstorming event; notetaking at their Indigenous Peoples Organizations’ Platform event; and attending side events on “Zambia, Renewables, and Rural Electrification” and “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions: Importance of Technology and Capacity Building”.
The following morning, I set up a meeting with one of the panelists from the electrification event, after which Avik and I were going to attend a presentation by CTCN (Climate Technology Centre and Network). Well, my meeting went late so by the time I went to go find the CTCN meeting in the Africa pavilion, I couldn’t find anyone. A random guy was asking about the same event, so we went off in search of it together. We asked at 4 exhibitions inside the Africa pavilion before learning that the event, apparently, was not even in the Blue Zone (in itself probably 800 meters long and taking forever to transverse). We set off.
Over the river and through the woods, we went… but instead it was out of the pavilion, through the corridor of the Blue Zone, out of security, around the venue area, and back through security in the Green Zone (seriously, for a climate event, they are really unhappy when you bring your water bottle to security). In the Green Zone, I’m pretty sure we looked something like the path of a particle being scattered around the atmosphere. There were millions of exhibits run by NGOs, private organizations, and universities; there were cars on display, African development organizations, and informal meetings in every open space. Nobody knew anything despite our stuttering attempts to ask for directions en francais, After wandering for an hour, we were still lost, and I still know nothing about CTCN.
The positive outcome was getting some seriously interesting perspective from that random (British) guy on the US election and the future of the implementation of Paris; post-Brexit, he had very little room to hate on us so we really got into some deep convo instead. I think that’s about what a “normal” day at the COP looks like: getting lost, having to be flexible with the schedule, and cool discussions with people from around the world!
This post is a contribution of Sachi Graber, who wanted to give each of us a look into the day-to-day activities they have been doing while in Marrakech as Week 1 draws to a close tomorrow.