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Morocco: in the eye of the sun

Morocco: in the eye of the sun


Najib Saab

 November 2012, Al-BiaWal-Tanmia (Environment and Development)


The costs of switching to greener production patterns, adopting sustainable natural resource management and reducing impact on the environment remains, by all means, less than the lowest cost estimates of any known corrective measures. This remark has been highlighted by Angel Gurria, Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in his address to the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF) in Copenhagen in October. After long focusing on working towards increasing its members' Gross Domestic Products (GDPs) as the only measure of growth, OECD has lately shifted its attention to the transition to green economy, where growth takes into consideration natural resources limitations and renewability, because no development is possible if resources are wasted.

This basically complies with the long standing proverb "prevention is better than cure". However, endorsing it by international economic bodies is highly significant. Leaders of great global companies have underlined, during the Copenhagen Forum, that the transition to Green Growth is urgent, and that any delay may squander the chances of achieving sustainable development. Frans van Houten, President and CEO of Philips, considered that economic difficulties and the pressures on natural resources form a driving force for creativity and competition, leading to better value-added management of diminishing resources. But this requires general policies and regulations to be observed by all players, to ensure fair competition.

The Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt explained that her country could realize substantial growth, and at the same time decrease carbon emissions. This contradicts the common belief that development is bound to be associated with resource depletion and pollution. The essence of green growth is achieving sustainable levels of wellbeing for all. However, rhetoric is not enough. It is a must to substantially invest in research and development, geared towards advancing technologies which can provide options for good life, while at the same time preserving the balance of ecosystems. This calls for adopting economic and fiscal measures, including taxes and incentives. After all, progress is not a happening which occurs by chance, but is the result of serious commitment. As a demonstration of this, the Danish Prime Minister and many members of her cabinet participated in most sessions of the Copenhagen Green Growth Forum, not only to share their success story, but also to learn from the experiences of others.

Speaking to the Forum also was Fahd al-Atiyyah, Chairman of the Qatar National Food Security Program. Al-Atiyyah underscored the need for cooperation and collaboration among the countries that sustain drought conditions and scarcity of water resources, in order to find common solutions and support each other in case of crisis. The initial step should, of course, be good management of national resources by developing standard growth levels that match with the available exploitable natural resources. He added that "progress and not only growth" should be the basic criterion. However, Green Growth, in its broad sense, necessarily leads to progress.

Some countries take up Green Growth just to keep step with a prevailing global trend, without being convinced that this is actually what they need. Some other countries know that they need Green Growth, but lack the motives to achieve it through practical steps.

Morocco is perhaps the leading country in the Arab region which combined need and motivation. Facing scarcity of conventional energy resources, Morocco avoided the mistakes of other states and boldly opted for energy efficiency and renewable energy, particularly from the sun. Morocco is now implementing one of the world's most ambitious projects which will enable it to generate 40 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. This bold initiative attracted great attention in the Forum and put Morocco at the center of events.

Morocco has made the right choice for a better future, because Green Growth is the only way to sustainable growth.


Al-Bia Wal-Tanmia (Environment and Development) November 2012.



Arab Environment in 10 Years
ARAB ENVIRONMENT IN 10 YEARS crowns a decade of the series of annual reports produced by the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED) on the state of Arab environment. It tracks and analyzes changes focusing on policies and governance, including level of response and engagement in international environmental treaties. It also highlights developments in six selected priority areas, namely water, energy, air, food, green economy and environmental scientific research.
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