Last Saturday the MYD team made our way to El Harti Stadium in Marrakech, Morocco for the Climate March that started at 2 pm for a 3km walk with thousands of other NGOs and climate activists. We carried a banner that said ‘Fossil Freeze’ with the Singaporean Youth for Climate Action (SYCA) and chanted together with the WWF (my favourite was ‘I say Panda, you say Power! Panda – Power! Panda – Power!’). Participants were in high spirits and in a sea of colours, although I personally expected a greater number.
I think that day was an important one as it was Marrakech’s first climate march in a country with increasing crackdown and censorship on dissent. There have been criticisms about the temporary unblocking of Voice over International protocol (VoIP) i.e. Whatsapp, Skype and Viber during COP22 that will otherwise be blocked. Why does this matter? Because blocking of platforms to share information is often linked to authoritarian cultures in the country as a means for the government to control how and where information is shared. This is particularly important in raising awareness and expressing on climate policies and issues.
For example, the villagers in Imider have been protesting for five years, the Imider Mine that happens to be Africa’s largest silver mine, for threatening their water access and agricultural livelihoods. The controversial ‘occupation’ (as described by United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon) of Morocco in Western Sahara has a place in the government’s climate policies; permits have been issued to several companies to explore oil and gas reserves in the region. Further, a significant part of Morocco’s ‘green development’ is planned to take place there as well, and this includes two large solar plants and four wind farms. Were their interests represented in the decision-making process considering how these projects are to take place on their doorstep? Were their voices heard at all?
There were groups protesting the deforestation of forests in Morocco as well as the coal-fired power plant in an already-polluted Safi that has already attracted several protests locally, and Standing Rock. These groups were given an insulated platform to express their views and bring the spotlight on these issues that affect communities and climate change.
While the WWF were shouting out to keep ‘fossil fuels in the ground’, and that ‘1.5 degree Celsius is totally possible’, other groups like the Green School Bali were demanding the protection of water and forests but also protested against palm oil plantations. When we joined the Green School Bali, we held a sign that read, ‘Listen to the Youth’ that MYD advocates as a team as well.
I love getting on the ground, so climate actions and the march was something I thoroughly enjoyed. I like that everyone gets together for a common cause, demonstrating and expressing themselves in various ways, from drums and music to catchy gimmicks and banners. It felt great to share the same spirit and the feeling of solidarity on issues that are usually unpopular in wider discussions. It is certainly something that future MYDs should take the time to attend, regardless of the colour of your badge.
On another note, Power Shift Malaysia’s tweet on the Climate March made an appearance on storify’s website together with other NGOs and marchers! 🙂
Written by Nachatira Thuraichamy
Edited by Choy Moon Moon