MAPS, COP22 Marrakech, Darcy Belanger

COP 22: Crossing the World Again

In 2016, we spoke out for MAPS in new ways. It began in the spring with the release of Parvati’s single “I Am Light”. This song premiered to millions on Vietnam’s YAN TV and played on top 40 radio internationally—alongside a public service announcement asking people to sign the MAPS petition. Worldwide media coverage followed.

It became clear that we had the potential to create unstoppable momentum for MAPS with a public education strategy that targeted the root of our collective crisis: our sense of disconnect from Nature and each other. The fastest, most potent catalyst for social change is the hearts of humanity. By using art, technology and the power of modern media to cool minds, lighten footprints, and inspire love on an immediate global scale, we could awaken an inevitable call for the realization of MAPS. So Parvati began to write and produce music, yoga instructional content and books all geared to create lasting global transformation in the way we see ourselves, each other, and our world. With Darcy’s background in education and media, he became a staunch enthusiast for this strategy, speaking about our innovative plan wherever possible at the conferences he attended.

Darcy’s trip to the 2016 UN Climate Conference came just two months after marrying his wife Amie. It also followed on the heels of Rishi’s international advocacy for MAPS in the media sector, after the success of “I Am Light”. Rishi had represented MAPS at one of Asia’s biggest entertainment tradeshows before going on to Europe, where Parvati joined him to build several new media, NGO and business alliances for MAPS.

Darcy was off for two weeks to COP 22 in Marrakech, Morocco. Karen and a team of volunteers had helped him set up meetings. Like Parvati and Rishi, Darcy travelled on his own time and own expense in service to the good of all. But he had a new advantage compared with his COP  21 trip: Karen had secured observer status for him at the conference as part of the Climate Action Network team. And he knew Adam’s beautifully designed MAPS booklet had opened many doors for him in the past and would do so again. A great conversation piece, it immediately warmed people’s hearts.

At COP 22, Darcy built relationships with countless international organizations, UN representatives, development agencies, academics, journalists, and corporations. Many people were now already familiar with some of our accomplishments, such as the exposure of Shell’s expired Arctic oil permits. Officials from several countries expressed interest in being the first to sign the MAPS Treaty, and even champion it with other nations. Mitchell Beer of the Ottawa-based environmental communications firm Smarter Shift shares his recollection of meeting Darcy:

At their best, COPs are formal, formulaic gatherings where the tiniest slivers of progress are celebrated as breakthrough victories, and the sheer weight of the official process leaves little or no space for independent, creative agendas. So it was inspiring but felt deeply improbable when Darcy showed up with a compelling set of facts and arguments about the fragility of the Arctic Ocean, a handbook on citizen treaties, and the calm, steady assurance that once a minimum number of countries signed the MAPS Treaty, it would become binding for them and a source of growing moral suasion for all the rest.

He didn’t just persevere. I never saw him pause or break stride. I remember parts of one conversation in which he tried to pull me back to the shared values and common humanity that connect us all, his utter, pragmatic certainty that those enduring strengths would be sufficient to get the MAPS Treaty adopted.

2016 was a time of profound political shifts worldwide with Brexit and the election of US President Donald Trump, both of which added tension to the atmosphere at COP 22. The global conversation became more contentious than ever. But our ethos is to be non-divisive. We know that we are all in this together. We have no political or religious affiliation and no financial interests in MAPS. Rather, our concern is humanitarian and ecological. We maintain that all life everywhere has the fundamental right to be free from suffering, misery, and lack. All countries are responsible for a healthy world because what happens in the Arctic Ocean affects us all.

Darcy stayed rooted in this knowledge and moved forward with confidence. He bolstered the status of internationally and furthered the mission to realize MAPS. With more access than ever before, Darcy made the most of every opportunity. No longer was he an outsider championing an unknown cause. MAPS was becoming known to the world.

By Parvati Magazine Staff