COP22: Podcast Preview - John Matthews

MARRAKESH, Morocco
A series of six audio-interview podcasts are being conducted around the current UN Climate Change Conference (COP22) in Marrakesh, Morocco. The purpose is to inform and educate listeners about challenges facing global water resources. The conversations focus, in particular, on efforts by the world’s water communities to strengthen the position of water within the climate negotiations and the UNFCCC processes. Stay tuned for release dates.
Below is an initial preview-sample from this week's interview-for-podcast with John Matthews, co-founder and secretariat coordinator for the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA), one of the primary drivers behind the #ClimateIsWater initiative.
"#ClimateIsWater is a very exciting group. It formed just a little bit over a year ago and came together quite rapidly. There was a recognition both within AGWA and many of our partners that the water community was speaking with too many voices and often discordant and non-complementary voices and that we needed to think much more carefully and collectively about how to make sure that water had a seat at the climate policy table and that we came as a unified partnership...One of the core arguments of our idea is that the Paris Agreement will not endure unless we recognize it also as a global water agreement both in our efforts to reduce greenhouse gases to control emissions sequestration, and also to cope with the impact of change on humans, on our communities and on our businesses.

"A lot of our work in the first half of the year was trying to take the momentum that came out of Paris and the energy we felt that was really picked up by the French government, the host of the last COP, and the Moroccan government the host of this COP. A very important meeting occurred in Rabat, the capital of Morocco, (in) July. That was an event that had about 700 people it was a very global conference and it was in a sense a kind of "exploded" version of #ClimateIsWater...to try and represent a very diverse range of views across the water community and synthesize that into a specific set of initiatives that we could present here at the COP.

"One of the formats of this COP is individual days that are selected as Action Days. Yesterday [November 9] was the Water Action Day and there were two important forum events. One was an open door event, in which you saw the heads of many organizations, public sector and private sector talking about their commitment. There must have been well over 1,000 people there.  Following it was a closed door session and I see that as a working session. I was very honored, along with Aziza Akhmouch of OECD, to be asked by the Moroccan Government to moderate this event. And here you saw what the Moroccan Government was able to identify as the key players (to make) very useful and very tangible suggestions about how we can improve climate policy thinking about what national governments can do, and interestingly and importantly, what the water community can do to contribute to the climate community. 
 
"There is definitely a very palpable change. I started coming to these COPs about 6 years ago and I would say it was a long hard slog over a long time and what we see now is that there is a much higher level of awareness in climate circles...a realization, a crystalization of the significance of water.
 
"An important thing that we need to hear in Marrakech is "who is the next host"? We are hoping the next host will be another country that...will take the (water) baton from Morocco and France and Peru."
 
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