Sahrawi people look at an explosion of mines in February 2011 near the Western Sahara village of Tifariti (AFP)
In the last two weeks, the touristic town of Marrakech in Morocco hosted the 22nd edition of the climate talks under the auspices of the United Nations.
Marrakech was therefore the destination of many politicians, journalists, corporate lobbyists, climate and environmental activists as well as representatives of communities and indigenous people who are at the frontlines of the ecological and climate crisis and destructive extractivism - a colonial and neocolonial development model based on extractive industries.
Today, it is expected, with much fanfare and deceptive propaganda that the leaders of the world will announce a "historic" action plan after the "historic" deal of COP21 in Paris.
COP22 is supposed to be an opportunity for action to avert climate chaos but unfortunately, like its predecessors, it is nothing of the sort.
Despite the global threat, governments continue to allow carbon emissions to rise and the crisis to escalate. Corporate power has hijacked the talks to promote more profit-making “false solutions”.
Amongst the official partners of this COP are the Moroccan phosphate company, Office Chérifien des Phosphates (OCP) and the Royal Holding mining company Managem, who have been responsible for environmental destruction, health problems and dispossessing people of their much needed resources like land, water, fish and other natural resources. Safi and Imider are emblematic cases in this regard.
Alongside other grassroots activists who were opposed to this COP, I worked to draw attention to the Makhzen's (a term that refers to the king and the ruling elite around him) attempt to use the climate talks as an opportunity to whitewash its brutal authoritarian and corrupt rule.
The COP22 was a golden chance for the rapacious monarchy to greenwash its environmental crimes and land and resources plunder, facts that give a contradicting narrative to the green discourse we hear about in mainstream media.
This greenwashing is facilitated by a non-autonomous, artificial and institutional civil society, represented in this case by the Moroccan Coalition for Climate Justice, which plays the role of containing the civil society at large and silencing and marginalising the radical voices calling for real and meaningful change.
Our efforts to counteract this disingenuous discourse led to the organisation of a successful anti-COP22 international conference. Entitled "System Change, not Climate Change", the conference was held in the ocean town of Safi, an area that has been sacrificed to implement an extractivist model of economic development: a phosphate factory, a cement factory and a coal-fired power station being built on its shores, contradicting the Makhzen's "green" rhetoric.