This November 2016 the subject of climate change brought people together from around the world to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP22, which was held in Marrakech, Morocco between the 7th-18th November. The focus of COP22 was upon finding innovative ideas and implementing participatory action plans based on the agreements decided upon by world governments at COP21 in Paris December 2015.
We attended COP22 between the 9th-14th November with the intention of bringing greater emphasis upon the need to safeguard the essential ecosystems, which regulate the global water cycle and climate systems. We also felt that our ‘Sacred Groves and Green Corridors’ (SGGC) method, which is an innovative ecosystem restoration tool, could prove to be very useful for policy makers and on the ground implementation of conservation and restoration projects. We included this into our input at the UNFCCC NWP 10th Focal Point Forum.
During the conference we were able to discuss the different climate and water related issues that delegates from around the world have been experiencing and dealing with from their particular geographical locations and sectors. It was interesting to discus these matters with such a wide range of people from government ministers, scientists, media, students, representatives of NGOs, youth, indigenous people and interfaith to specialists in education, health, advocacy and tourism.
Our meeting with the Cameroon delegation, which included a King and Queen of Cameroon and the Cameroon Environmental Minister, was especially interesting because coincidentally they have recently formed new policies for the conservation of sacred groves in the mountain regions of Cameroon.The tradition of sacred groves is one that we are very interested in and which is key in the SGGC method. Therefore it was very interesting to hear about the sacred groves in the Mandara Mountain region of Cameroon
It was also a great privilege to meet with Tiokasin Ghosthorse who is from the Sioux Nation of South Dakota, USA. He is a long time advocate for the rights of Native American Indians and the need for people of all nations to live in harmony with Mother Earth not simply upon Mother Earth.
We were able to talk with him about the present situation related to the Dakota Access pipeline at Standing Rock, North Dakota, USA. We have been following this troubling story and have been very moved to hear that indigenous people from around the world have been standing together in Solidarity to the tribes of Standing Rock in their stand to protect the life giving waters of the great Missouri and Mississippi rivers and lake Oahe and all the land and life forms that would be damaged if the pipeline is allowed to go ahead and not rerouted.
We hope that this example of people from all around the world standing together for water and nature will inspire this to happen on a much larger scale for the sake of safeguarding the whole global water cycle and biodiversity.
During COP22 the Indigenous People’s caucus organised an event in solidarity with the struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock. The event started by honouring the indigenous people of Morocco, the Amazigh community, for welcoming us on their land, and featured speakers from Indigenous communities from around the world.
“We call upon all member states to condemn the destruction of our sacred places and to support our nation’s efforts to ensure that our sovereign rights are respected. We ask that you call upon all parties to stop the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline and to protect the environment, our nation’s future, our culture and our way of life.”
(Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II)
It was a surprise and an honour to meet with John D Liu who is renowned for his excellent ecological film ‘Green Gold’. This film demonstrates remarkable examples of ecosystem restoration and explains the urgent need for this worldwide. We have been in contact with him for some time but this was the first time that we were able to meet with him in person. He spoke to us about a global grass root initiative that he is presently working on for ecosystem restoration on a massive scale and invited us to join with him on this. We told him that we would be happy to be involved.
We are members of Mountain Partnership and we were very happy to be able to have a meeting with Andrew Taber, the Executive Director of Mountain Institute and Chairman of the Steering Committee for Mountain Partnership and Eric Chavez Betancourt the President of Asociacion Oikos from Peru. We have been in correspondence with Andrew Taber for some time about mountain and water related issues. It was therefore a privilege that he and Eric Chavez Betancourt made time in their immensely busy schedules to meet with us and to discuss mountain partnership, the need to bring greater attention to the fact that mountain ecosystems impact upon the whole world and the methods for global mountain ecosystem regeneration that we propose in the SGGC method.
We were also able to attend some very interesting events and to take part in some of the Questions and Answers sessions at the end of each talk that allowed us to ask poignant questions and ensure that the global water cycle and the essential ecosystems got included into the discussions.
It was also very uplifting to meet with interfaith delegates. They made our experience much more uplifting and diverse and showed us a very human side to the whole climate change issue. They demonstrated that people of diverse faiths can come together in a common stand for nature and for the lives of future generations and that this has the potential to spur great positive ecological restoration and preservation to take place. We saw one of the interfaith delegates from Assam Bhaskar Goswami give a talk and he echoed our own feelings that to really be able to address the present environmental and social dilemmas, we need to act not simply for personal benefit but in consideration and for the sake of the whole.
Overall we felt that it was very worthwhile that we attended COP22 and we hope that we were able to have some influence and that we will keep in contact with and maybe work together with some of the delegates that it was our pleasure to meet throughout the event.