I also commend the Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, under the able chairmanship of my dear sister, Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Hasnaa, for the praiseworthy initiative it has taken to convene this international meeting, under the auspices of UNESCO, and in partnership with ISESCO.
This is clear evidence of the esteem enjoyed by our country in its endeavours to reconcile the requirements of economic and human development with the need to comply with international conventions pertaining to the protection of the environment.
True to this national and international commitment, Morocco has initiated long-term actions in this field, and made headway -institutionally and legally- in its effort to integrate environment issues into development-related policies.
We have, likewise, taken numerous steps to upgrade clean development initiatives. Thus, major programmes have already been launched nationwide. In addition, legislation has been passed with a view to promoting and protecting the environment, as well as fighting air pollution and managing waste, for example through prohibition of non-biodegradable plastic bags.
Furthermore, legislation has been adopted in connection with clean, renewable energy, which we are keen to bolster, mainly through our project for the production of solar energy, a pioneering undertaking at the regional and the international levels.
As for climate change, which is one of the major concerns of civil society, our country has launched a wide-range of initiatives, including steps to carry on with the programmes for the good management of water resources and the preservation of good quality water, in addition to the adoption of national strategies to fight floods and desertification and to curb the risks of natural disasters.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In the majority of countries, coastal areas are those where natural and ecological sites are most vulnerable to over-exploitation. This is due to the current patterns of consumption, the massive concentration of economic activities, the ongoing extension of towns and cities, as well as to the increasing needs in terms of equipment, infrastructure and energy. Apart from these challenges, the considerable strains exerted by seasonal tourism activities, which tend to increase every year, should also be mentioned.
Therefore, the coast is an area where the stakes related to sustainable development assume special importance, given the risks which threaten marine life and coastal ecosystems in general, and which have the potential to harm the economy and the environment, and to hinder the achievement of the Millennium Objectives.
Aware of the scope and magnitude of the challenges ahead, our country has prepared draft legislation for the development, protection, rehabilitation and preservation of the coast.
However, no matter how important the legal aspect may be, the true test to gauge the sustainability of management -whether on the coast or in respect of development as a whole- lies in securing the adherence and support of all segments of society and in initiating long-term sensitisation and education efforts in this field.
In this connection, we wish to pay tribute to the valuable efforts being made by my dear sister, Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Hasnaa, President of the Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, and Ambassador for the Coast, to enhance awareness-raising and educational activities designed to highlight the importance of environment issues, as part of fruitful partnerships with NGOs, civic – minded enterprises – public and private alike – local governments and the relevant government departments.
While commending the launching by the Foundation of the “Eco-Ecoles” programme under a partnership agreement concluded with the Ministry of Education, we strongly recommend the generalisation of such a programme which contributes substantively to the achievement of the above objective.
Similarly, we want to see the National Environment Charter drafted and finalised as part of a framework-law and in compliance with our participatory, consultative and inclusive policy. But there is more to it than just the question of the environment. Indeed, this is a societal project, and we want it to serve as a general reference for developing the country’s public policies. It is therefore necessary for all institutions and all forces that make up the life blood of this nation, to lend their full, unmitigated support to ensure its implementation.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This important gathering, under our high patronage, provides a valuable opportunity for seasoned, highly competent, keenly responsible and deeply committed participants to interact and share their useful experiences.
We look forward to your recommendations, with their potential impact on enhancing education and stimulating awareness about the importance of preserving the coast and protecting it from all risks and hazards which might threaten it.
I wish to conclude by welcoming all participants in this important scientific gathering, to their second home, Morocco, the meeting point and venue of great events dedicated to major issues and designed to advance the causes of humanity and the objectives of sustainable development. Welcome to Tangiers, which enjoys a special status worldwide, at the confluence between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, and is a bridge for intercultural interaction, free, dynamic trade relations and productive human exchange.
We wish you every success in your proceedings.
Wassalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatouh.
King of Morocco
The Royal Palace, Rabat.
08 October 2010