Praise be to God Peace and blessings be upon the Prophet, His Kit hand Kin
Your Royal Highness,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to send this message to participants in the launching ceremony of the programme for the preservation and development of the Marrakech Palm Grove. This is an important project which contributes to environmental protection. As you know, this is one of my major concerns; it is also an intrinsic part of the national strategy for the achievement of sustainable development.
Although today’s initiative concerns only the Marrakech region, my ambition is to extend this kind of action to all of the kingdom’s oases, and to make it part of a full-fledged national policy, based on appropriate legislation and efficient management standards that are themselves the result of practical scientific research.
Moroccan oases, some of which date back more than two thousand years, are centres for community life and havens of tranquillity in the heart of the desert. Not only do oases play an essential economic, social, cultural and political role, but they are also important to the country from an agricultural and tourist standpoint. Moroccan oases constitude a rich historical, cultural and environmental heritage which is recongnized by UNESCO as a part of the Biosphere Reserves network.
The steadily deteriorating state of this cultural heritage could result in oases being wiped out because of the combined impact of several factors related to droughts, desertification, soil salinization, loss of biodiversity, weak productivity and poor use of palm trees. These unfavourable conditions often compel oasis residents to reluctantly leave these ecosystems in search for a better life.
Your endeavours should help develop a realistic strategy from the perspective of sustainable development. To this end, coordinated efforts should simultaneously target the environmental, social and economic aspects of the problem in order to ensure the development of oases serve as an ecological bulwark against expanding deserts ; they can also serve as a model for the sustainable development of natural resources, especially water.
I am delighted to note that thanks to the dedication of its Chair, Her royal Highness Princess Lalla Hasnaa, and to the fruitful cooperation shown by a large number of economic stakeholders and civil society groups, the Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of the Environment has undertaken several measures for the preservation of the environment, such as the Garden cities, Clean beaches, Environmental education and clean air programmes. Today, the Foundation is called upon to involve national and foreign stakeholders, rally all good-intentioned parties and coordinate initiatives in order to implement an ambitious programme designed to develop and revitalize oases. The aim is to preserve oases and make them economically profitable, as well as to enable their residents to benefit from them and improve their quality of life.
Your Royal Highness,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I commend the work done for the development of the Marrakech palm grove, a place of stunning beauty which is of special importance to our country. Though the palm tree as such is said to be of minor significance, there is rich biodiversity in the palm grove, thanks to a high heterogeneity rate, and above all because the palm grove constitutes a first-class cultural asset, just like the historical buildings and monuments of Marrakech.
The Marrakech palm grove is an emblematic, renowned site which gives the city is special character. Its condition, however, is deteriorating steadily, despite the efforts made to protect it. This is due to the combined effect of drought, growing human activity, ageing palm trees and lack of maintenance and reforestation.
To address this situation, the Foundation has been asked to draw up and implement a plan for the preservation and development of the Marrakech palm grove, in conjunction with all the institutions and stakeholders concerned.
The objective is to restore and upgrade this site. Solutions include reforestation of the palm grove, improved cultivation techniques in terms of management and maintenance, phytosanitary protection, education and awareness-raising activities about the environment and sustainable development, in addition to the establishment of an eco-museum, as part of an international data-sharing network.
This programme is a blueprint for action, to be spread over different periods of time, and monitored and assessed on a regular basis. This assessment will make it possible for the Foundation, acting as a catalyst, to review the progress achieved with its partners, reconsider priorities, if necessary, and set adequate guidelines to enhance the consistency and efficiency of actions to be undertaken.
I am delighted to see this ambitious project has prompted the relevant government agencies to join in, under a partnership convention with the Foundation that covers maintenance, rehabilitation and monitoring activities. National economic stakeholders have also pledged support to sensitize the public about the need to safeguard this part of our heritage.
It is also gratifying to see that the authorities concerned are already taking concrete steps to help with the implementation of the palm grove rehabilitation project. In this connection, a bill calling for the protection of palm trees, currently under consideration in parliament, is about to be voted into law. In addition, urban development efforts are being stepped up to ensure better protection of the palm grove. Thus, the department in charge of local governments has released the first instalment of funds, which has made it possible for the plantation programme to get under way.
Although public authorities have an essential role to play with respect to sustainable development, they cannot act alone. This is why the involvement of civil society and the public at large strongly encouraged and supported.
I want you to know how much I care about the project for the restoration of this natural heritage as well as its implementation process. I urge you to continue to do all you can to stop the deterioration process, and to restore, revitalize and upgrade our palm groves.
May God bless you and assist you in your worthy endeavours for the development of our country and the prosperity of its people.
Wassalamu alaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuh.
King of Morocco