I wish to express my sincere thanks and gratitude to Mr. Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme for the invitation he kindly sent me to take part in this important session. I also wish to thank the Government and people of Kenya for the warm welcome and hospitality extended to me and my delegation since we set foot in this beautiful city, which has hosted many important international meetings.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Six months ago, the international community celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the Earth Summit, held in Rio in 1992. This was a suitable opportunity during which the pledge to achieve sustainable development was reaffirmed. A new road map was also developed with a view to achieving this objective in the coming years.
This means all stakeholders, and especially civil society, have to show greater mobilization, undertake further initiatives, pool efforts and adopt suitable mechanisms and approaches to raise funds, exchange experiences and promote skills, in keeping with a strong solidarity-based spirit at the regional and international levels.
Since the first Rio Summit, the Kingdom of Morocco has sought to uphold the principles of sustainable development and achieve its objectives. Reflecting the nation’s will at the highest official level in this regard, my country sought to prepare a draft national charter for the environment and sustainable development, in accordance with the instructions given by His Majesty King Mohammed VI, may God assist him .
A consultative approach has been adopted in the preparation of this project, which will take the form of an outline law that will soon be submitted to parliament. Consultations were held throughout the Kingdom, in which civil society organizations have played a key role, in coordination with the public authorities concerned and private stakeholders. A government bill was also prepared on Morocco’s coastline, which stretches over 3,500 km. The aim is to balance the basic needs for the preservation of coastal ecosystems and the current requirements of economic and social development under the enlightened guidance of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, may God assist him.
It should be pointed out that the Kingdom’s new Constitution, which was endorsed by the Moroccan people through a referendum on July 1st, 2011, recognizes the particular importance of environmental and sustainable development issues. It thus stipulates that the citizens are entitled to live in a healthy environment and to benefit from sustainable development.
In the same vein, the terms of reference of the Economic and Social Council have been expanded to include environmental issues. Furthermore, and in keeping with the principles of parliamentary democracy, non-governmental organizations now have the right to participate in the preparation, implementation and assessment of development public policies. This new legal and constitutional framework serves as a catalyst for the action of civil society organizations, especially those interested in the preservation of the environment. Their number has increased sharply, standing at more than 2,000 currently.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, which I am privileged to chair, has been particularly interested in education and sensitization issues. These are key elements in the various strategies we have developed for environmental protection and the achievement of sustainable development.
Hence, partnering with the public authorities and the private sector, the Foundation has been actively engaged in promoting environmental education and raising awareness about ecosystem preservation – especially among younger generations – in order to encourage responsible attitudes and develop skills to rise to the sustainable development challenges.
Given the Foundation’s efforts in the field of environmental awareness as well as its outstanding experience in this regard, Morocco will have the honor to host, next June in Marrakech, the Seventh World Environmental Education Congress. This congress – which will be for the first time held in an Arab or Islamic country – will be organized jointly by the Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of the Environment and the World Congress’s Permanent Secretariat, under the theme: Environmental Education in Cities and Rural Areas: Seeking Greater Harmony.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The program of action of the Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of the Environment is based on environmental education, on effective partnership with the various public institutions concerned, civil society organizations and the private sector, as well as on fruitful cooperation with regional and international organizations.
As part of sensitizing the citizens and economic operators about the importance of environmental conservation and reclamation, the Foundation launched the “Clean Beaches” program – which has become an ambitious national project that contributes effectively to the protection of the Moroccan coastline – the “Green Key” program, which aims to promote responsible tourism by granting awards for the best environmental management practices in terms of tourist accommodation, and the voluntary carbon offsetting program, which seeks to raise awareness about the adverse effects of carbon emissions due to the use of fossil fuel-based transport means.
Moreover, and in order to encourage the use of renewable energies, the Foundation has sought to contribute to the important program on electrification of rural schools using solar energy.
As part of preserving the natural heritage, the Foundation contributes to the implementation of a tree-planting program; the protection and restoration of the historical Marrakech oases is one of the successful initiatives undertaken under this program.
To promote environment-friendly attitudes, especially among children and young people, the Foundation has launched in two programs in partnership with the Ministry of National Education, called Eco-Schools and Young Reporters for the Environment.
The first one aims to make environmental education part and parcel of the school curriculum, while the second seeks to enable young people to put forth and defend environment-friendly attitudes and lifestyles, to investigate environmental issues close to their community, and to take part in the activities of the Foundation for Environmental Education.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Before concluding, I should like to say, once again, how delighted I am to participate in this important conference. I wish you every success for the well-being of our countries and of our peoples, who yearn for a better future and for sustainable development based on responsible practices and civic values.