The 22nd Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Convention on Climate change (UNFCCC) was held from 7 to 18 November 2016 in Marrakesh, Morocco. The Conference entailed the 22nd session of the COP (COP22) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), 12th session of the COP serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP12) and, with the entry into force of the Paris Agreement, the first session of the COP serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA1).The High Level Segment of the Conference, 15-17 November 2016, was attended by Heads of State/Government, Ministers and high level officials from UNFCCC state parties, as well as representatives of the UN System, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs and other stakeholders. ECO delegation composed of Mr. Fuad Farzalibeyov, ECO Director for Energy, Minerals and Environment (EME) and Mr. Abolfazl Azizipanah, EME Programme Officer also attended and delivered the statement at the High level Segment.
During the Conference, ECO was officially granted Observer Status in the COP process of the UNFCCC which is the fifth observership recently granted to ECO by global environmental entities. In 2015 and 2016, ECO was granted Observer Status in the UNEP for UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) and its subsidiary bodies; UNCCD; IPCC and UNCBD.
Side Event on Sand and Dust Storms
On the margins of the Marrakech Conference, the ECO delegation participated in the Side Event on Sand and Dust Storms, co-organized by Iran and UNDP on 15 November 2016. The Event, moderated by Mr. Gary Lewis, UN Resident Coordinator in Iran, was held with participation of Mrs. Masoumeh Ebtekar, Vice-President and Head of Department of Environment (DoE) of Iran, Ms. Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Mr. Erik Solheim, Executive Director of UN Environment Programme (UNEP) as keynote speakers. The aim of the Side Event was to both raise awareness and serve as a call to action for the countries of the region to find a way to tackle the trans-boundary human development challenges such as sand and dust storms (SDS). Noting the economic, health and environmental impacts of SDS, the need for collaborative action among countries in the Middle East was stressed by all speakers.
ECO Director for EME made an intervention in the Side Event, in which he briefed the audience on ECOís increasing environmental profile and ECO projects in the field of environment, and stressed the importance of the "ECO Regional Project to Combat Desertification with a Special Emphasis on Dust Haze and Sand Storm". In this regard, he called for UNEP's possible support for successful implementation of this project.
Meeting with UNEP
On the margins of the Side Event on the Sand and Dust Storms, ECO delegation had a brief discussion with Mr. Erik Solheim, UNEP Executive Director and exchanged views on future ECO-UNEP cooperation, particularly on preparation of SoE for the ECO Region and ECO project on dust haze and sand storms.
The UNEP Executive Director acknowledged the importance of projects in the subject areas which are in line with the UNEPís policy to enhance partnerships with international and regional organizations and expressed his hope to work closer with ECO in implementation of these projects.
The ECO delegation also had a meeting with Ms. Jacquelin McGlade, UNEP Director for Early Warning and Assessment and discussed in detail the future bilateral cooperation, notably the preparation of the State of Environment (SoE) report for the ECO Region. In this vein, both sides deliberated on ways and means for conducting a study on the aforementioned SoE that may further serve as a solid basis for any regional plan of action on environment, introducing also the most appropriate outline/format for the SoE based on the existing national, regional and international models, in cooperation with UNEP and ECO Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ECO-IEST).
The UNEP representative expressed readiness to support ECO in developing the relevant SoE report for the region that will help setting the agenda for environmental priorities in the broader context. She deemed appropriate to follow up the above issue with the UNEP Regional Office for Europe.
Both sides agreed to jointly organize the Inception Workshop on Modalities of the First State of Environment (SoE) Report for ECO Region (based on UNEP Live Model) in the course of 2017.
ECO Secretariatís one day Showcase
The Secretariat of the UNFCCC allocated one full day Oasis space to the ECO on 14th of November 2016 located within the Blue zone of the Conference. The area was designed for showcasing activities, maintaining visibility with delegates and networking with new contacts in the global climate change community.
The showcase provided an ample opportunity for ECO delegation to introduce Organizationís activities specifically in the environmental area and gain publicity among hundreds of delegates and visitors representing world environment community through organization of open dialogues, networking with NGOs and IGOs, and presenting ECO projects.