To face the challenges posed by climate change, Morocco needs to address issues related to adaptation and mitigations strategies, raise awareness and implement educational programs on climate change, ensure public access to information and promote public participation.
Moroccan Policy Dialogue 2021
Authors: Dr. Hajar Idrissi; Dr. Mohamed Masbah
- Promoting Public-Private partnerships for climate finance.
- Investing in climate change education and promoting civic action.
- Transforming successful environmental actions into learning models for sustainability
Morocco, as many countries across the globe, is highly dependent on natural resources and thus highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. In the last decades, problems such as water scarcity, food insecurity, desertification, and shoreline erosion have been growing problems in Morocco. These problems have far- reaching consequences such as climate migration, which tends to move people into urban areas with high population densities, and consequently increases resource supply strain.
In order to adapt and mitigate the challenges linked to climate change, Morocco embarked on the path of sustainable development and environment protection. This included the ratification of the three Rio Conventions in 1995, and most of the multilateral agreements that followed, including in 2002 at the Johannesburg World Summit. In November 2016, Morocco organized the COP22 with the aim of concretizing the new global climate agreement COP21.
Although convinced of the need to fight against climate change, certain limitations persist due to the lack of public awareness of climate change issues, collaboration between public and private initiatives, and building on successful experiences as learning models. Therefore, this policy brief aims to highlight policy paths for tackling climate change in Morocco and discuss strong actions needed to meet adaptation and mitigation goals.
In Morocco, a range of government and non-government agencies implement climate change-related programs to improve the environment, protect and value biodiversity, prevent industrial pollution, and protect against desertification and deforestation (e.g. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Environment; National Commission on Climate Change and Biological Diversity ; The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Rural Development, Water and Forest; Climate Change Competence Center; Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of Environment).
In addition, Morocco has several climate change-related laws, policies, and plans that recognize the importance of protecting the environment for the betterment of present and future generations (e.g. Constitution(2011) ; Law No. 11-03 on the Protection and Conservation of the Environment (2003); The Green Morocco Plan (2008); Law 28-00 on Solid Waste Management and Disposal (2006);The 77-15 law (commonly known as the Zero Mika Law) (2016);The Moroccan Climate Change Policy(2014), National Sustainable Development Strategy(2017); National Climate Plan: Horizon 2030(2019)). In 2018, Morocco was Africa’s leader in terms of efforts to combat climate change on the basis of the Performance Index on Climate Change, reaffirming the country’s commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate action.
Additionally, Morocco’s Nationally Determined Contribution (2016) mentions that the country is developing a national adaptation program to better coordinate its adaptation policies, on which the country claims to have devoted 64 % of all climate related spending in the country to adaptation, which represents 9 % of overall investment expenditures over 2005-2010. It also expects to dedicate 155 of overall investment budgets on climate change adaptation in the future. The current adaptation policies are run through sectoral strategies and plans such as National Strategy for Sustainable Development and National Plan to Combat Global Warming, among others.
Within the framework of the 2021 UN climate change conference (COP26), which took place from 1 to 12 November 2021 in Glasgow, under the presidency of the UK, Morocco also declared an urgent need for measures in line with the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and for systemic change in the funding decisions which have the most significant impact. These measures should be new, additional, innovative, adequate and predictable to take into account major consider significant challenges and allow more ambitious national plans.
Promoting Public-Private partnerships for climate change finance
Mobilizing climate finance is broadly recognized as crucial to catalyze low-carbon and climate-resilient development. It covers the costs and risks of climate action, supports an enabling environment and capacity for adaptation and mitigation, and encourages the deployment of new technologies. Morocco’s investments in low-carbon, climate-resilient (LCR) infrastructure that are compatible with meeting the 2-degree Celsius climate change goal may come at an extra cost, but this increment is just a fraction of the finance needed for infrastructure overall. While the amount of available climate finance is increasing by at least 590% to USD 4.35 trillion annually by 2030 to meet global climate objectives, barriers to access, constraints on delivery and insufficient coherence in donors’ offers have left developing countries like Morocco unable to access or utilize the support they need to deliver on climate action and sustainable development. Climate finance can be mobilized through a range of instruments such as promoting Public-Private partnerships (PPPs).
Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) are a promising avenue that may offer both practical and conceptual solutions to ensure the productive interaction of public and private finance establishments. PPPs aim for public service delivery and, while they seek to benefit from mutually beneficial partnerships, they remain founded on public oversight (e.g., national budget allocations, mobilized domestic private sector). A range of examples provide insights into the potential of PPPs in climate finance. For example, the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (MASEN) established the Moroccan Ouarzazate Solar Project, illustrating how PPPs can serve effective renewable energy project development under public leadership. Located on the edge of the Sahara desert, in an area famous for a picturesque landscape, the project is financed by the Climate Investment Funds, the World Bank Group, African Development Group and other partners. The solar complex supplies clean energy to 2 million people and is considered the cornerstone of Morocco’s ambitious plan to meet 42% of the country’s energy needs with renewables by the end of 2020.
However, climate finance allocation should be equally and strategically planned, targeting the local, regional and national levels. The government also needs to pursue a balanced approach. From one side, it is essential to enforce the current policies in order to oblige private companies to respect the regulation at place, to create incentives for private sector working on climate change issue (e.g., tax cuts and benefits, co-financing projects) and also make research and innovation policy more responsive to climate change by bringing together private companies to collaborate with universities.
Investing in climate change education and promoting civic action
With the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development mandating global action towards a sustainable and resilient path, the role of education has become imperative to develop new perceptions, knowledge, values, critical and functional skills, attitudes, confidence, and happier livelihoods. Education provides an untapped opportunity for successful climate change adaptation and mitigation and helps citizens to understand and address the impacts of the climate crisis.
While the policies mentioned above and climate agreements have increased the attention to curb the negative impacts of climate shocks in Morocco, the current efforts generally highlight education’s role in equipping people with skills to deal with uncertain environmental future. Environmental education is taught directly across all levels of the Moroccan education system and is encouraged through a range of topics and activities. For instance, The White Book (2002)- which is a reference document for curriculum design in different education levels – encourages the integration of environmental topics from the early years of pre-primary education to the last year of secondary school. Although climate change education is not always explicitly mentioned in these topics, environmental responsibility is included throughout the education curriculum.
Beyond the formal education curriculum, the Moroccan government provides other opportunities for schools and students to engage in environmental learning, sometimes with elements of climate change education. For instance, the Ministry of National Education, Vocational Training, Higher Education and Scientific Research works to foster a civic, environmental culture in schools through local and regional programs related to environmental issues. An example is the One Student, One Tree, One School, One Forest project led by the NGO Atlas Foundation, where an estimated 6 million students are directly in charge of planting seeds and plant cuttings in their school grounds and surroundings. In addition, pedagogical activities such as workshops educate students about the value of forests, planting, and green spaces educate students about the value of forests, planting and preserving green spaces.
In addition, the Ministry of Education collaborates with the Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of the Environment to offer an Eco-Schools program. The Eco-Schools program (an international program of the Foundation for Environmental Education) encourages young people to engage with the environment through climate action. For example, the program educates students about positive ecological principles with regard to water, energy, and waste management.
However, with all these initiatives, there is still an absence of legal framework and active policy that explicitly provides incentives for implementing climate change education and communication in Morocco. Therefore, it is important to develop a new framework between government and non-government stakeholders to build new strategies. The importance of civic engagement in responding to climate change is widely claimed to increase sustainability. This engagement can be reinforced through religious and cultural values that shape identities and behavior, particularly when emphasizing the conceptualization of human as caretakers of this planet. In Islam, for example, a faith that evolved under conditions of severe water scarcity, the holy text offers many prescriptions of water usage and conservation. It can also be reinforced through more effective civil society participation being it a critical stakeholder in environmental decision-making processes and a valued partner in implementing and monitoring environmental policies at the local and national level.
Transforming successful environmental actions into learning models for sustainability
One of the best ways to increase climate change actions may be to let go of the climate change “sacred cow” and create a narrative centered on “successful stories” to inspire and motivate citizens and decision-makers to take realistic actions.
Morocco is a country where the availability of water resources is a key factor in developing the agricultural sector, which is the basis of the Moroccan economy. The Government of Morocco is already addressing the growing gap between water supply and demand in its urban areas and irrigated agriculture, amongst others, by implementing large water infrastructure projects, inter-basin water transfer projects and desalination plants for its coastal cities. The treated wastewater reuse is one of the alternatives that could be reliable and highly beneficial for irrigation and, at the same time, for agriculture. Particularly, Marrakech Waste Water Treatment Plant was a significant milestone because of its empirical pungency. As summarized by a national newspaper, the project had “definitively solved the water problem for irrigation and tourism in the region” (LʼEconomiste, 2009).
Marrakech is one of the country’s largest metropolises, with a population of over 1.3 million. It is a magnet for tourism since the 1960s and now boasts of around 2 million tourists yearly. Typically, the explosion of projects – hotels, villas, swimming pools, golf courses – in La Palmeraie, 12 000 hectares spread of greenery and palm trees hundreds of years old on the city’s outskirts, have aggravated the demand on water supply and endangered both the palm grove and the region’s traditional agriculture. Against this background, the most efficient use of existing resources, e.g., properly capturing and using reclaimed water, has become a strategic goal. On 29 December 2011, the new wastewater treatment plant in Marrakesh has been inaugurated. The accompanying leaflet issued by the local public water utility company, RADEEMA, underlined the fact that the plant was using “some of the most sophisticated technologies worldwide” with a cost of 1.23 billion Moroccan dirhams (MAD) (US$121 million). Being a successful project, Morocco built seven new wastewater treatment plants in 2020 as also part of the country’s strategy to invest in sanitation solutions and ensure access to clean drinking water, particularly in remote areas. However, it should be noted that no treatment and reuse would be possible if the sewer infrastructure does not exist and that requires coordination between institutions responsible for different services. Moreover, responsibility for the wastewater infrastructure depends on the population intensity. According to the decentralization law, the municipalities have full autonomy (responsibility) to operate public services, including wastewater. This is why municipalities should learn from the successes – and also limitations – of Marrakech waste water Treatment Plant in order to come up with local solutions of water management.
To conclude, in Morocco, promoting climate change mitigation and adaptation started to gain particular attention in order to support environmental dynamics and mobilize stakeholders to take the environment into account in their policies and actions. These matters have been progressively consolidated and institutionalized in the New Development Model program (2021) and rolled out across Morocco’s government, civil society and private sector. However, the current challenges require double efforts. The government still needs to strengthen access to environmental information which also means that data for monitoring and evaluation is scarcely available; to encourage civic and climate change education; promote strategic public private partnerships to mobilize funds for future climate change projects especially in local communities and finally to build up on successful stories.
International Organization for Migration. Migration and Climate Change.