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  • Past the finishing line 9th and final blog from COP 22

    Posted on November 22, 2016

    The Kasbah Mosque in Marrakech

    The Kasbah Mosque in Marrakech

    The marathon is over and I am now back in France having had a chance to sleep, draw breath and reflect on a remarkable COP. Why remarkable? Because having never had an official side event at the conference centre at previous COPs we managed no less than 4 in Marrakech. In Durban we held one in the Greenpeace marquee on a beach some distance away from the COP venue and likewise, in Paris, where it was held in the city centre while the conference centre was at Le Bourget airport

    Also remarkable was the Trump effect. The outcome of the US election cast a spell over Marrakech mainly for the claims that the President-elect made as to what he would and would not do as a climate denier once in power. The effect was to stiffen the resolve of everyone present to ensure that the outcome of COP 22 was indeed one of irreversible Action. And we were all heartened to hear John Kerry say; “In the time that I have spent in public life, one of the things I have learned is that some issues look a little bit different when you’re actually in office compared to when you’re on the campaign trail.” The full text of his speech can be found on the INTO website under COP 22 updates and it is definitely worth reading

    The signing of the Paris Agreement was the great achievement coming out of COP 21 and it being put into effect 3 days before the start of COP 22 was a significant moment. But the momentum arising from Paris needed to be maintained and sure enough, at the eleventh hour, the 197 countries’ representatives signed the Marrakech Action Proclamation which recognises that “our climate is warming at an alarming and unprecedented rate and we have an urgent duty to respond” before calling on specific actions. The text of the Proclamation can be found here: and an excellent summary of the outcomes at COP 22 can be found here: One of the key outcomes was 47 vulnerable nations (making up the Climate Vulnerable Forum) agreeing to achieve 100% renewable energy by between 2030 and 2050.

    John Kerry after his valedictory speech

    John Kerry after his valedictory speech

    Without wishing to appear cynical (and I am an eternal optimist!) I sincerely hope that the proclamation will lead to action in the right direction. As I have said at all four side events, it is fine to celebrate the signing of the Paris Agreement on the one hand but if, on the other, certain governments continue to licence the extraction of fossil fuels, such an agreement loses its worth. As John Kerry so aptly put it, “We literally cannot use one hand to pat ourselves on the back for what we’ve done to take steps to address climate change, and then turn around and use the other hand to write a big fat cheque enabling the widespread development of the dirtiest source of fuel in an outdated way. It just doesn’t make sense. That’s suicide. And that’s how we all lose this fight”.

    So what has INTO achieved at COP 22? The 4 side events referred to at the start of this blog gave us a great opportunity to spread the word about INTO, our role, our members and the serious effects that climate change was having on the heritage of our members. They also gave us an opportunity to explain some of the great things that were being done by our members around the world in adapting and mitigating the worst effects.

    The issue of Loss and Damage, which now has its own place in the discussions having been separated from Adaptation when it comes to finance, has had a much higher profile at this COP than hitherto and it is encouraging to learn that losses of culture will be taken into account and treated in the equation as non-economic losses. Quite how that will manifest itself has yet to be decided.

    It was also encouraging that culture and heritage played a much more significant part in this COP than in any other of the 5 previous ones that I have attended where they barely got a mention. No less than 10 side events had one or other of those words in the title, albeit 4 were our own or those with which we were directly associated!

    I genuinely believe that the drip feed approach that INTO and others have used at all the COPs we have attended is finally paying off both in terms of the recognition of cultural heritage and cultures not only in the general discussions but also in the loss and damage equation.

    With Marylyne Kabugho a Policy Analyst for the Uganda Parliament

    With Marylyne Kabugho a Policy Analyst for the Uganda Parliament

    In terms of networking, the Poken system proved invaluable as it meant that even if we were not at our stand passers-by could extract the information by touching the tile on the table with their Poken USB key and thus receive all the information in downloadable form. We are considering a similar system for the ICNT in Bali.

    A huge number of face-to-face contacts have been made and a great many business cards exchanged. The follow-up process now lies ahead but already I have the prospect of at least 6 meetings in Madrid, Paris or London arising from discussions with relevant people as well as the potential to gain a few new members and some funding.  Over the course of the two weeks a number of people expressed interest in coming to ICNT 17 in Bali and they will also be followed up.

    Ancient and modern

    Ancient and modern

    The two days with the Sustainable Tourism Conference at the end of the first week provided a change of scene, taking place, as it did, in a smart hotel on the outskirts of Marrakech. Again many new contacts were made and the possible outcome of funding for our members in developing countries over time could be further enhanced if Tesouros de Galicia’s bid to hold the next conference in Santiago de Compostela succeeds, at which we will be able to reinforce the point that tourism destinations are not just hotels but the reason for the hotels being there in the first place.

    Let me end this series of blogs with an appropriate final extract from John Kerry’s speech:

    “As Pope Francis said, “We receive this world as an inheritance from past generations, but also as a loan for future generations, to whom we will have to return it.””

    Let us hope that we can return it in better shape than currently


    Oliver Maurice        21 Nov 2016

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