Marrakech races against clock to host COP 22

Sunday 06/11/2016
Moroccan labourers sit at the site of the COP 22 international climate conference in Marrakesh, on October 31st. (AFP)

Marrakech - Environmentally friendly preparations involving bicycles, trees and elec­tric vehicles have stepped up as Marrakech prepares to host one of its most important international events.

The city’s Bab Ighli village, home to the 22nd Conference of the Par­ties of the UN Framework Conven­tion on Climate Change (COP 22), which convenes November 7th- 18th, was said to be 98% complete. It is to host 20,000 delegates from 196 countries, the COP 22 Steering Committee said.

Some 300 self-service bicycles, called “Medina bikes”, will be available at a dozen stations.

“The COP 22 is an opportunity to reconnect with this most ancient means of transport in the city, cy­cling, which began to lose its repu­tation in recent years, replaced by motorcycles and scooters for their speed and comfort,” said Laurent Mercat, chief executive officer of the French company Smoove, which won the bicycle contract.

“In Marrakech, cycling was one of the main modes of moving but, as in France, gradually lost ground. Medina bike is a renaissance tool of this cycling practice,” he said.

Thousands of volunteers are to plant more than 1.2 million trees November 12th across Morocco.

The tree-planting operation, called the Forest’s Voice, is part of a reforestation campaign in which more than 40 million forest plants will be planted in an area of more than 45,000 hectares.

Also during the conference, Uber will launch UberGreen in partner­ship with Derichebourg, a French-based company that provides re­cycling services, to rent electric vehicles to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and fight pollution.

Vivo Energy Morocco has start­ed installing rapid charging sta­tions for the electric vehicles at Shell petrol stations in Marrakech. Its first electrical terminal in the country started operating October 31st.

“Several Shell stations will also be equipped with the same electri­cal terminal in Marrakech during the COP 22,” said Asaf Sasaoglu, managing director of Vivo Energy Morocco.

Conference participants will have plenty of eco-friendly op­tions to choose from for accommo­dations.

More than 30 hotels in the city have earned a Green Key, an inter­national eco-label that rewards ho­tels, holiday villages, guest houses, inns, cottages and guest farms for proactive approaches in protecting the environment and preserving natural resources.

To ensure security, some 7,000 members of the Royal Gendarme­rie, 250 bikers and hundreds of police cars armed with the latest equipment to deter terror threats will be deployed in Marrakech.

Special forces of the Royal Gen­darmerie will also be mobilised, as well as dozens of ambulances and medical teams aboard three helicopters fitted out with medical equipment. Hundreds of mounted police will secure sensitive areas such as Marrakech Menara Airport and the railway station and heli­copter patrols will operate around the clock.

Dozens of teams of police, as­sisted by dogs, will be deployed throughout the city for rapid re­sponse to emergencies.

The security apparatus will be trying to ensure the safety of 30,000 participants, including sev­eral dozen heads of state, expected for COP 22.

Moroccan authorities have dismantled 160 terrorist cells with close ties with jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria. The kingdom has had no extremist attack since the 2011 terrorist attack killed 17 peo­ple at the Argana Café in the main square of Jamaa El Fnsa in Mar­rakech.