Ladies and Gentlemen,
Since independence, Morocco has always focused much attention on the protection of the environment. This issue was source of major concern for my revered Father His Majesty King Hassan II, blessed be his soul. He put up an ambitious scheme to mobilize water resources. The venture was hailed as a great success by international organisations, which established the “Hassan II World Prize for Water” in recognition for his immense contribution in this field. The prize was awarded for the first time in March 2003, during the World Water Forum, which was held in Kyoto , Japan .
Building on these achievements, His Majesty King Mohammed VI has ensured the environment is an integral partr of the nation’s program for sustainable development. But aside from the ecological aspect, His Majesty’s strategy reflects a vision which lays emphasis on solidarity and provides for the struggle against scourges which affect human dignity as well as the environment. Thus, he has made bold decisions to curb poverty and substandard housing. In addition, he has initiated major projects to upgrade infrastructure in both rural and urban areas, as part of the nationwide town and country planning scheme.
Morocco’s commitment to protecting the environment, as well as the bold policies it has designed to preserve nature, are further evidenced by the fact that our country has become party to all relevant international conventions, including those related to the Rio Protocol concerning biodiversity, the fight against desertification and climate changes, in addition to the Kyoto Protocol, whose implementation mechanisms were laid down at the 7 th ministerial level conference of the parties to the U.N. Framework convention on Climate Change, which took place in Marrakech in November 2001.
Further concrete evidence of Morocco ‘s commitment to its international obligations lies in the enforcement of a whole set of laws, including legislation on the protection and development of the environment, the law on impact assessment concerning the environment, and the law on air pollution.
Morocco , where the population growth rate has risen significantly over the last four decades, is confronted with difficult weather conditions, as a result of successive years of severe drought, which exacerbated the desertification phenomenon and caused rural populations to flock into cities in great numbers. But urban cities were ill-prepared to absorb the influx of rural immigrants. This led to further deterioration in the environment and to over exploitation of resources, thus seriously hampering implementation of the development programs initialled by the government.
Given the urgency of the situation and the need for a swift response, Morocco had no alternative but to take up the challenge and endeavour to achieve sustainable development. Following broad – based, in depth reflection and debate, an ambitious, yet realistic, nationwide plan was prepared by all relevant parties, namely government agencies, community leaders, NGOs and business community. The plan calls for comprehensive, concrete and realistic actions to be undertaken to tackle such phenomena as the depletion and deterioration of water resources, desertification and air pollution. It also addresses the need to devise suitable solutions for the collection and treatment of solid and liquid waste.
It goes without saying that for the plan to succeed, all Moroccans are under a moral obligation to get involved and contribute to the protection of our environment and of our planet Earth.
I strongly believe that personal involvement is very important. This is why I resolved to take prompt action. Though isolated, the steps taken so far have had a highly educational impact. Because of the determination and dedication with which I tackled my mission, my revered Father, blessed be his soul, entrusted me, in 1999, with the challenging task of bringing together socially- minded institutions and people to “put a smile on our beaches and make flowers bloom in our cities”, as His Majesty put it.
The support provided by our partners – who later became founder members of the Mohammed VI Foundation – And the interest they took in the actions which were undertaken at the time, soon led to a groundswell of support for he environment.
As he attaches special importance to responsible citizenship and to the role of civil society in all fields, but more so in that of the environment, His Majesty King Mohammed VI set up this Foundation, gave it his name, and did me the great honour of entrusting me with chairing it. I took this appointment to be special privilege and, at the same time, a daunting challenge, which I readily accepted out of respect for the memory of my august Father, who had made protection of the environment a top priority, and had taken strategic decisions as early as 1964, in the key area of water resource management. I also accepted because I wanted to show, in my own way, that I am keen to assure, as a mother, healthy environment to our children., in addition, this gave me the opportunity to ensure concrete implementation of the policy devised by His Majesty King Mohammed VI to improve the living conditions of all Moroccans.
Ladies and Gentleman,
The Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of the Environment is a place where people reflect and share views on how to support targeted actions and bring them to fruition and where there is a consensus that each partner has a duty to ensure the success and sustainability of these efforts. The Foundation’s governing body is composed of socially – minded companies eager to foster a culture for the protection of the environment. I should like to commend the dedication of these companies and of all the Foundation’s partners. Thanks to their support, we have managed to launch major operations, including the following :
* The “Clean Beaches” program, which seeks to provide vacationers with a pleasant environment for relaxation. This operation has developed into major national program which has earned Morocco the “Blue Flag” Eco-label;
* The “Garden Cities” Program, which is aimed at rehabilitating well-known parks and recreational areas, respecting vision of their designers, while making new technologies available to young visitors;
* The “Qualit’air” program, whose primary targets are reduce emissions of exhaust fumes because of their adverse impact on health, and to help all the partners concerned to the implement a well-contrived program to secure effective enforcement of the relevant regulations;
* “Environmental education” : this, to me, is the central element without which no sustainable achievements can be made. Basic environmental education is introduced as a subject in primary schools’ curricula, and teachers are provided with kits for this purpose. Awareness – raising efforts at junior high school level are made trough the setting up of clubs for the protection of the environment and supply of appropriate equipment. High school students are involved thought the “young Reporters for the Environment” program. The success of this program has enabled us to persuade all our partners at the local to take it up as subject for reflection and discussion:
the Boundifs sensitization campaign, a highly daily television program which portrays a dedicated family advocating the protection of the environment trough relevant allegories other programs are planned for next year, including “Green Keys” Eco- Neighbourhood” an “Eco-Schools”. They will help boost co-operation with the Foundation for environmental Education, which we had the privilege to join in June 2002. we believe the sharing of experience and know-how, and your youth’s access to global networks to discuss views and ideas with like – minded youth will further enhance Morocco ‘s interaction with the world.
Allow me, before concluding, to thank all our partners sponsors. Once again, I wish all participants a warm welcome as well as every success in their work .