Morocco Passes COP23 Presidency Torch to Fiji
Morocco passed the torch of the Presidency of the 23rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP23) to Fiji, which is organizing the summit in Bonn, in partnership with German authorities.
Salaheddine Mezouar, who has been in charge of the UN Conference since COP22 in Marrakech (November 7-18, 2016), passed the torch over to his Fijian successor, Frank Bainimarama, at a ceremony Monday at the opening of the COP23 (November 6- 17).
The Moroccan presidency of the Conference was marked by inroads in terms of gathering support to least developed countries to address climate change issues, notably in Africa.
Now comes the turn of Fiji, a Pacific island that speaks for most vulnerable island nations whose existence is at risk due to global warming and rising water levels.
In a speech on this occasion, Mezouar reiterated Morocco’s firm commitment to fighting climate change. “Morocco is regaining its place as a Party within its African family, other groups and the global community. As a country, we will continue to make a strong commitment to climate action.”
The outgoing COP22 president stressed the need for urgent climate action to avert “the cost of the wait-and-see” and the consequences of failure to act promptly to address climate change issues.
Mezouar also called on the participating countries at COP23 to build on the legacy of the Paris agreement and the Marrakech declaration signed at the COP21 and COP22 summits.
“Since COP22, concrete results have accelerated at all levels according to the values of ambition, solidarity and action,” he said, highlighting the positive results of an “inclusive” Moroccan presidency.
High on the agenda of COP23, which takes place against this year’s background of destructive hurricanes, fires, floods, droughts, melting ice and impacts on agriculture which threaten food security, is firming up the 2015 Paris Agreement, which saw signatories commit to voluntary measures to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.
Another issue of major concern at COP23 is Donald Trump’s shadow. Trump’s climate denialism casts a dark shadow over the conference. This year, the US president rescinded his predecessor Barack Obama’s commitment to the global pact.
Pulling the US out of the agreement is not straightforward — and can only officially happen in 2020. Which is why there will still be an American delegation in Bonn next week, led by a senior US state department official.
This year’s summit is also expected to focus on the ordeal of small island nations who are increasingly affected by the perils of rising sea levels.
For Fiji, a county of more than 300 islands, climate change is not just a talking point — it’s a threat to the islands’ very existence.