Celebrating ‘Earth Day’ in Marrakech

April 22-23, Marrakech,  #IBMCSC  #CSCMor10 #IBMCSCMorocco10 #CitizenIBM

It’s 22nd April; its Earth Day and we are on the road to Marrakech via Casablanca. In Morocco, I have been less involved in checking my Twitter account but today I happen to do so. Twitter is humming with messages reminding us of the significance of Earth Day. I am quite in sync with these messages but for one point which is “what about the other 364 days”? The danger of celebrating Earth Day is that many people might find it convenient to forget about our planet for the rest of the year.

We owe our existence to Mother Earth or, as the Greeks would say, to Gaia. One of the first things we learn in business school is about ‘capital conservation’. That’s why banks are required by regulators across the globe to maintain capital adequacy. Transport that same thinking to our planet. Earth’s resources are finite but human wants and desires are otherwise. If Earth was a large corporation should we see its resources as being capital or income? Do you get the point?  Are we not squandering away precious capital?

All is not lost though and I am reminded of  Marrakech’s role in course correction. The city hosted the 22nd edition of Conference of Parties (COP22), a convention organised by the United Nations to implement a framework to manage  climate change. COP22 was significant as it was the first convention after ratification of the Paris Agreement. The  Paris Agreement (COP21) seeks obligations from various governments, that are party to this convention, to limit global temperature increase to a maximum of 2°  Celsius over pre-industrial levels  and preferably not in excess of  1.5° Celsius over pre-industrial levels. Additionally the Paris Agreement seeks building climate change resilience in a manner that will not adversely impact global food production. The convention at Marrakech was to gain consensus on several administrative aspects of the Paris Agreement and to make its implementation smoother.

Come to think of it, Earth is our source of life and our source of well-being. What can be more precious than our own lives.  The Paris Agreement is a treatment of symptoms we are afflicted with; the root cause remains a lack of awareness and consciousness of nature. If we were truly conscious, we would not need inter-government obligations and our economics would be shaped by concerns for not just our generation but for all future generations.

During my stay in Morocco, I happened to stumble on a blog written by Samir Saran (no relation of mine) on “Shaping the Development Narrative at Home and Abroad”. He writes eloquently on the need for “ease of living” to be as central to the ethos of the nation as the “ease of doing business”. Here I am in Morocco, working on a project to enhance ease of doing business in Morocco. I pause after reading Samir’s article and I see how Morocco scores so high even on ease of living.  Surely, Indian policy makers could learn a lot from this country but I hasten to qualify that managing a nation of 1.3 billion is hugely more complex than managing a nation of 34 million people.

We are soon about to enter Marrakech, a pink city that reminds me of Jaipur and has an unending array of buildings and monuments in sandstone colour. Marrakech, with its wide boulevards and flower studded avenues is exotica personified. The major attraction at Marrakech is its market square the Jemaa el-Fnaa in front of Medina. This market square is also the same spot that hosts Marrakech’s famous night market. During the day this place sports snake charmers,  henna artists, musicians and what not but its real pulse lies at night.

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Above: The main thoroughfare of Marrakech. Notice the width of the road and the widespread use of sandstone colours. Picture courtesy: Gerardo Elizondo, CSC10

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Above: Celebrating at the night market. The guy on the banjo is playing the title track from the Bollywood movie “Dilwale Dhulaniya Le Jayenge”

Marrakech has a lot to offer to the visitor. Its rampart; the numerous souks; the mosques; the sight of people playing the tambourines and African drums is real charming. Let’s not forget the Jardin Majorelle botanical garden created by the famous french painter. It sits on a six acre plot revealing true art-deco designs and contrasting colours and has the best collection of cacti from different parts of the world.  This is a retreat you don’t want to miss.

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Above: Glimpses of the Jardin Majorelle garden. The art-deco architecture stands out in the midst of a stunning collection of plants

The Jardin Majorelle gardens remind us of the beauty and diversity inherent in  nature. If only we were to open our eyes and be more sensitive to nature we would not need an ‘Earth Day’

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