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Morocco's National Charter for Environment and Sustainable Development
On April 22, 2010, during the celebration of Earth Day's 40th anniversary, which was held in Rabat, Morocco on April 17 - 24, the Kingdom of Morocco announced an unprecedented National Charter for Environment and Sustainable Development. This is the first environmental charter of its kind in Africa as well as in the Arab and Muslim world. The charter will form the framework for national environmental laws as well as for future environmental policy.
The aim of this environmental charter is to govern water and solid waste management in all public and private sectors, while preserving natural resources and spaces.
In addition, according to a communiqué issued by the Moroccan Ministry of Trade and Industry on October 1, 2009, "the charter will aim to ensure that all projects adhere to environmentally-friendly specifications, providing proof of Morocco's will to sign up for a progressive policy to reconcile the imperatives of socio-economic development with the preservation of the environment and sustainable development". The communiqué further said that the Moroccan government would adopt a "polluter pays" principle to encourage the industrial sector to make necessary green adjustments to their business practices.
Another aim of this charter is to make up lost ground in water management. According to the Moroccan government agency responsible for water and the environment, Morocco produces more than 750 million cubic meters of waste water annually, of which only 100 million cubic meters are treated and 10 million are re-used. Under the new charter, the target is to increase waste water recycling to more than 96%. The treated water will be used to irrigate green spaces and farms.
It should be mentioned in this context that according to data from the Moroccan Ministry of Trade and Industry, the cost of environmental damage is calculated to be around 8% of Morocco's annual GDP, which equals to $2.5 billion.
King Mohammed VI launched the National Charter on July 30, 2009, in his speech on the occasion of the Throne Day, when he outlined his vision of what it should cover. He said that "we urge the government to draft a National Charter of the global environment, allowing the backup of spaces, reserves and natural resources in the process of sustainable development. The Charter should also provide for the preservation of natural sites, ruins and other historical monuments that make the richness of an environment considered a common heritage of the nation, whose protection is a collective responsibility to generations present and future…".
Since then, the National Charter has undergone a unique nationwide, public consultative process in order to make it reflect the interests of all Moroccans. The debate was conducted in the regional level through workshops which addressed all the environment related problems facing the different regions of Morocco. The regional debate began on January 18, 2010 and was concluded on February 23, 2010.
The final version of the charter was concluded in March 2010. The Language by which the National Charter is written reflects the interests and will of all Moroccans. For example, it says that "creating a new dynamic and reaffirming the preservation of the environment must be a permanent concern of all Moroccans in the process of sustainable development of the Kingdom; recalling in this regard the basic principles of sustainable development and environment, the implementation of which is deemed crucial to consolidate all the achievements of the Kingdom; defining as result thereof the individual and collective responsibilities of all Moroccans with a view to mobilize them according to their activities".
Thus, according to the National Charter, all Moroccans share the responsibility for the protection and preservation of the environment as well as for sustainable development. Concerning this issue, it reads as follows: "Any person or entity shall have the duty to protect and preserve the integrity of the environment, to ensure sustainability of natural and cultural heritage, and to improve health and quality of life". Then, it goes into details concerning the commitments of each entity in Morocco: "Public authorities are required to strengthen the national legislative and regulatory related to the environment and sustainable development and to boost the mechanisms for its implementation, its monitoring and control. The local government shall take measures and concerted decisions that ensure the protection and preservation of the environment in their respective territories. They are also required to develop and implement integrated programs that are able to ensure the sustainability of natural and cultural resources. The civil society, mainly non-governmental organizations are called upon to socially take into account sustainable development and the protection and preservation of the environment".
All this will be done, according to this Charter, by way of awareness programs; appropriate academic curriculum; training in environmental and sustainable development; normative, preventive, curative and punitive procedures; and integration of the environmental component in the planning and implementation of policies conducted by public authorities, parliamentarians, locally elected officials, and private businesses in the usage of resources and spaces of the national territory.
The National Charter will be implemented by establishing 16 regional observatories that will provide the Moroccan government with yearly reports and recommendations on environment and developmental issues as well as on facing the potential threats endangering the Kingdom's nature reserve.
Although the National Charter was the centerpiece of the Earth Day's 40th anniversary, it was only part of a whole celebration of Morocco's commitment to the environment and sustainable development. The Earth Day's events included: signing of five international conventions in the field of environmental protection; presentation of a range of environmental projects by Moroccan cabinet ministers which includes repairing the desertification caused by forest over-exploitation, placing artificial reefs to protect marine ecosystems, using the methane gas from a landfill to generate clean energy, eradicating plastic bags, and establishing an eco-school. Moreover, King Mohammed VI launched a project to plant one million palm trees by 2015.
Morocco is also dedicated to harnessing renewable energy as part of an overall Moroccan energy security plan, which was announced in 2008, to reduce dependence on foreign energy sources, which in 2007 accounted for 96% of Morocco's power, by cutting waste, increasing efficiency and boosting the use of sustainable energy. As part of this plan, the Minister of Energy and Mining, Amina Benkhadra, announced on November 2, 2009 a $9 billion investment in a solar energy project. This project involves building five stations at five different sites with a combined surface area of 10,000 hectares. The project aims at creating a capacity of 2,000 MW by 2020, which will equal 38% of its installed power generation by 2020. By that time, if everything goes according to plan, solar energy could meet 10% of Morocco's demand for electricity and will reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide per year by 3.7 million tons.
Hopefully, the National Charter and the Moroccan commitment to the environment will inspire other Arab, Muslim, and African countries to follow its footsteps and announce their own National Charters, which will result in the commitment of millions of Arabs and Muslims, who comprise 23% of the world population, to the environment.
 See on-line at: http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/apr2010/2010-04-22-01.html
 See on-line at: http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/apr2010/2010-04-22-01.html
 See on-line at: http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2009/11/06/feature-01; http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/morocco-praised-by-us-as-role-model-and-leader-on-the-environment-hrh-princess-lalla-hasna-joins-heads-of-epa-and-earth-day-to-announce-morocco-as-a-host-for-40th-anniversary-of-global-earth-day-88844417.html; http://planetark.org/ark/56239