Climate Buzz

Meet The 11 Moroccans in Charge of 2016’s UN Climate Summit

Marrakesh, Morocco. Photo: Maurizio De Mattei
Marrakesh, Morocco. Photo: Maurizio De Mattei

So who is making sure the UN’s biggest climate change event of the year will run smoothly? Meet the Moroccan executives who are preparing the 2016 summit as we speak.

The upcoming COP22 conference is set to take place in Marrakesh this November. Global climate change conferences are held annually by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and are partly organised by the hosting country.

Last year’s COP21 conference was held in Paris and resulted in the historic Paris Agreement, not least due to much praised diplomatic efforts by the French. This year, the summit will focus on solutions and on what countries should be doing to make sure they meet the targets set in Paris.

Morocco is determined to make the summit a ‘conference of concrete action,’ COP22 president Salaheddine Mezouar pledged while speaking at a major climate change event in Berlin earlier this month (July 4-5).

The 11 Executives

Without further ado, the Daily Planet introduces you to Morocco’s special COP22 steering committee chaired by Mezouar. The committee brings together 11 key officials who are working with the UN to take the Paris Agreement from adoption to action.

1. Salaheddine “The Basketball International” Mezouar

Photo: Morocco World News
Photo: Morocco World News

Position: COP22 President

Salaheddine Mezouar has been Morocco’s foreign affairs minister since October 2013.

Previously, he has also served as minister for finance and headed the industry, trade and ‘restructuring of the economy’ ministry.

Fun fact: Mezouar previously had a career in sports as the captain of the national basketball team.

2. Hakima “The Scientist” El Haité


Position: High-Level Climate Champion of Morocco

Hakima El Haité has been Morocco’s environment minister since 2013.

El Haité is and expert in environmental and sustainable development. She holds a PhD in Environmental Engineering and has even published several books and scientific articles on the subjects.

She has a strong and successful background in women’s rights which may come in handy. In the 1990’s she was the treasurer of the National Women’s Union in the city of Fez. In 2007 she became the vice president of the Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Morocco and the International Network of Liberal Women.

More recently in 2012, she was appointed as the deputy president of the Liberal International for women.

3. Abdelâdim “The Desert Expert” Lhafi

Photo: COP22
Photo: COP22

Position: COP22 Commissioner

Abdelâdim Lhafi is currently Morocco’s high commissioner for water, forests and the fight against desertification in Morocco.

Previously, he served in a range of different positions including as Morocco’s ambassador to Germany.

He also was secretary of state in charge of agricultural development and represented Morocco at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Rome.

More recently he was elected as the president of the Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS).

4. Aziz “The Ambassador” Mekouar

Photo: UVA Today
Photo: UVA Today

Position: Ambassador for Multilateral Negotiations

From 2002 to 2011, Aziz Mekouar was the ambassador of Morocco to the United States. As such, Mekouar also participated in the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations between Morocco and the United States.

He has also represented Morocco in Portugal, Italy, Albania and Malta.

5. Nizar “The Economist” Baraka

Position: President of the Scientific Committee

Nizar Baraka is currently president of the Moroccan Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE).

Baraka has a doctorate in economics and previously served as Morocco’s economy and finance minister and is also a member of the country’s National Observatory of Human Development (ONDH).

6. Driss “The Activist” El Yazami

Photo: Arcre
Photo: Arcre

Position: Head of Civil Society Activities

Driss El Yazami has been involved in human rights throughout his career and is currently president of both the National Human Rights Council (CNDH) and the Council for the Moroccan Community Abroad (CCME).

7. Abdeslam “The Governor” Bekrate

Photo: COP22 Twitter
Photo: COP22 Twitter

Position: Head of Logistics and Security

Abdeslam Bekrate is the governor of the province that includes Marrakesh.

Previously, Bekrate served as the governor of the provinces of Essaouira, Ouarzazate and the préfecture of Salé.

8. Samira “The Journalist” Sitaïl


Position: Head of Press and Communication

Samira Sitaïl is a Moroccan journalist with a a strong background in broadcasting. She previously held several positions at the SNRT and 2M television channels in Morocco.

Currently, Sitaïl is director of information at 2M – the country’s first broadcasting channel.

9. Said “The Engineer” Mouline

Photo: Brahim Taougar
Photo: Brahim Taougar

Position: Head of Public-Private Partnership

Said Mouline is an engineer specialised in environmental protection.

He currently is director general of Morocco’s National Agency for the Development of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ADEREE) and previously served as director general of the Renewable Energy Development Center (CDER).

10. Fouzi “The Football Boss” Lekjaa

Photo: Menara
Photo: Menara

Position: Head of Finance

Fouzi Lekjaa is budget director at Morocco’s economy and finance ministry, but also holds the post of president of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation –  the governing body of football in Morocco.

Lekjaa was also part of the negotiating team for the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the United States and Morocco, and was involved in the negotiations on the country’s Agriculture Agreement with the European Union.

11. Mohamed “The Negotiator” Benyahia

Photo: Twitter UNCCCM
Photo: Twitter UNCCCM

Position: Head of Side Events

Mohamed Benyahia is director of partnerships, communication and cooperation at Morocco’s environment ministry.

As chief negotiator for the environment ministry, he was also involved in the preparation process of COP21’s Paris Agreement.

Want to keep up to date with COP22? We made a list of must-follow Twitter accounts you should be following for COP22.

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