COP 22: Youths are the changemakers, and I am one of them ...
Attending COP 22: How it all started
One inevitable truth: Humans are the major cause of global warming!
During my stay in Marrakech while attending this wonderful international event, I had the chance to learn a lot about what multiple institutes, enterprises, organizations, and associations are doing in order to fight climate change.
It is then that I realized that fighting global warming and protecting the environment is not the responsibility of scientists only, but it is also the job of youth, journalists, activists, scholars, and authors.
It is evident that the world is witnessing a noticeable change in its climate. Temperature around the globe has been rising in the past years, icebergs have been melting and some islands are on their way to be vanished. This is due to the several human activities that cause greenhouse gas emissions, most importantly CO2, known to be the main heat-trapping gas.
I have always been interested in environmental matters, despite that the majority of people who surround me have never really cared about the dangers that climate change could have on our planet. However, conducting in-depth research in this domain or its related fields and sub-fields requires me to have a certain educational background, and mine has absolutely nothing to do with it. I graduated majoring in English literature and if I had to go back and make again the choice of my undergraduate studies, I would not change a thing. Being a literary major student was perhaps the wisest decision I have ever made. I followed my heart and I found myself drowning in tens of novels that I fell in love with. I learned how to criticize literary works, how to analyze literature through several methods and approaches, and mostly, I overcame the stereotype that studying literature means reading and analyzing only.
After I graduated, I applied for a position in the first vocational training institute in Renewable Energies and Energy Efficiency businesses (IFMEREE) in the MENA region, located in Oujda, Morocco. The reason why I chose to work in this institute goes back to my passion for learning about whatever could help save our mother earth: Renewable Energies.
As a person who masters the English language, I offered to teach Technical English to the trainees who are being trained to become specialist technicians in several fields, including Wind Energy Systems, Solar Energy, Biogas production and Energy Efficiency in Buildings. This automatically led me to do a lot of research and training, in order to be qualified and well-informed about the topics that I was going to teach. The more I found out about the latest technologies, the more interest I developed for the RE&EE domain. So this is how it all began.
As I have mentioned before, IFMEREE is the first institute of its kind; thus it was given a large pavilion in the Green zone in COP 22 where us, its staff, showed the world how Morocco is helping the Energy transition through vocational training in the field of renewables.
My job as a coordinator of IFMEREE's pavilion
Knowing that I was assigned to manage the institute's pavilion during such a huge event was overwhelming. I knew how great the opportunity was going to be to grow my network and meet people with similar interests to mine, but I also knew that it came with a large responsibility.
Taking part of COP22 meant a lot to our students ( trainees). For some of them, it was their first time ever to attend an international event, leave their hometown and travel for miles in order to represent IFMEREE. So my job was, in addition to many other tasks, making sure that all the trainees who participated in the pavilion's animation would achieve their tasks successfully.
COP22: The green zone
During the COP22
I must admit that it was a lot more than I expected... My country surprised me with its ability to host such a huge event in a perfectly well-organized way.
IFMEREE's pavilion was in the Green Zone, where several other institutes, associations, and NGOs had their own stands. I spent the majority of my time coordinating the official visits of some highly important people, making sure everything was going as it was supposed to. But I also took breaks, where I visited other stands, got to know people who were doing some astounding work , leading some amazing initiatives in order to come up with solutions to fight climate change.
Some of them come from extremely poor areas of some extremely poor countries, yet they managed to be creative enough to offer added values to this world. Many Moroccan, Arab and Western enterprises emerged in the last decade whose only focus is energy transition, either through selling and installing , fabricating or vocational training.
As a young activist, full of energy and willing to make positive changes in my community and my country, COP22 has been a source of inspiration, learning, and empowerment to do more!
I got inspired by several NGOs whose pavilions were next to ours. They were so creative in expressing their desire for change and for a better planet through art, poetry, painting, craft art and even singing and dancing! I participated in many workshops they organized, and I felt again that saving our planet does not necessarily mean spending our lives in laboratories, but it could also mean committing to change our behaviour for a sustainable future and educating the current generation.
Meeting the US Ambassador Mr. Dwilight Bush: A constant reminder of my love for the United States of America
In the Summer of 2014, I participated in the MEPI student leaders program, which took place in the United States. I was assigned to Benedictine University in Illinois, where I spent six weeks taking leadership classes, project management, and democracy courses.
After this life-changing experience, I became a girl who strongly believes in herself, believes that she is capable of doing anything as long as she truly desires it, and mostly, I became someone who is willing to help my country move forward and work on my society's issues.
The USA has had a positive impact on me, so I have stayed in touch with the US embassy in Rabat after I came back, because the urge of giving back the community and applying what I learned during my program is a constant feeling that gets stronger day after day.
Mr. Dwilight Bush, who is the current US Ambassador to Morocco, is one of the most genuine people I have ever met. He visited Oujda before where I had the honor to meet him for the first time, and luckily, I met him again in COP22. Seeing him with the US embassy staff was a reminder of what I experienced in the USA, what I have learned and what I can do as a leader.
It was a reminder that my presence in COP22 should be interrelated to what I am meant to do in this world; Being one of the changemakers that this world needs. Meeting him was a boost in my willingness not to miss any opportunity, and make the most out of my participation in the Conference.
Meeting the US Ambassador Mr. Dwilight Bush
Written by: Asmae Ourkiya