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Building a green society


HRH Princess Lalla Hasnaa

President, Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection

Since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the Kingdom of Morocco has fully supported the objectives and principles of sustainable development. Reflecting its keen interest, His Majesty King Mohammed VI, then Crown Prince, took part in both that summit and Rio+5 in New York in 1997, and then participated, as Head of State, at the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development. Morocco has embarked on an ambitious economic and social development policy, aware that achieving sustained economic growth must be accompanied by a proactive environmental protection policy to ensure that the requirements of sustainable development are met. Major efforts have been made on environmental legislation and institutional development. Mainstreaming environmental issues at all levels of public policy is gradually taking place, so as to promote economic and social development based on sustainable production and consumption patterns.

Building on all that has been achieved — and pressing ahead towards developing a green economy and sustainable development — will require the support and mobilization of the entire society. The transition to a green economy needs not just technical, regulatory or financial instruments, but a fundamental shift in the way we think and act: this means investing in human and social capital. Only across-theboard education and awareness can bring significant-enough changes to lead to sustainable lifestyles and consumption and production patterns. So there has to be a transition to a green society, as well as to a green economy. Green societies are fully educated communities. Education for sustainable development plays a fundamental role. Tomorrow’s societies will be shaped by the skills and knowledge acquired today.

Thus education and awareness are prerequisites for a successful transition to a green economy that is solidarity-based, inclusive and respectful of natural ecosystems. Both government agencies and civil society organizations have crucial roles in creating the right conditions for this.

Since its inception in 2001, the Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection has been fully committed to these principles. It has made environmental education and sustainable development key objectives of its policy and action strategy. Investing in education and promoting awareness among young people has been its motto, and schools have been at the heart of its action. The aim is to enhance awareness and capacity building in order to rise to the challenge of sustainable development.

From the outset, we have promoted partnerships with government agencies and economic operators while mobilizing local associations, building on their energy and creativity. We have ensured that public and private stakeholders concerned with sustainable development are represented on the Foundation’s governing bodies and participate in designing and implementing programmes.

Ten years ago we decided to implement internationally renowned environmental education programmes in Morocco. The Young Reporters for the Environment programme — this year celebrating its 10th anniversary and implemented through a successful partnership with the Ministry of Education — aims to educate young people and enable them to acquire skills and attitudes that support eco-citizenship.

It encourages them to produce written reports or photos on selected environment preservation and sustainable development topics. The best entries are selected by a national jury and receive awards. The programme’s international dimension also enables young Moroccans to compete for the international award, interact with young people from other countries on global issues, and open up to the world.

Year after year — thanks to the mobilization of the entire education community and our partners — participation in the successful programme has grown in both quantity and quality. Nearly 20,000 high school students have participated in ten competitions with about 3,500 written reports and photos: many have also competed successfully for international awards.

For the programme’s tenth anniversary — and as part of the preparatory debates for Rio+20 — the Foundation held a youth forum on sustainable consumption in April 2012. The event — bringing together young people, decisionmakers from the public and private sectors, and the press — enabled discussion of production and consumption patterns and of the conditions required for a transition to a green economy.

Responsible consumption is at the heart of education for sustainable development. Based on the principles of equity and sustainability, it contributes to making consumption a catalyst for welfare, peace and human development. Education is also key to preparing young people to seize the opportunities offered by green jobs and enabling them to adapt to a shifting environment while changing unsustainable consumption and production patterns.

New, more effective mechanisms need to be developed to establish a connection between the labor market objectives of green growth and educational programmes — including teaching and vocational training to prepare young people for green jobs and to tackle unemployment. In parallel, the Foundation developed the Eco-Schools program to ensure that environmental education becomes part and parcel of the education system.

This aims to lay the foundations of environmental education in primary schools by mobilizing the entire school community — students, parents and teachers — around a shared project of environmental conservation, adopting good practices in specific areas and measuring progress. Launched as a pilot experiment in 2006, it is being extended to all schools as part of a strategic partnership with the Ministry of Education. Our approach — based on early involvement of stakeholders in efforts and sharing resources — has proved to be valuable in the complex field of sustainable development, where participation and partnership are key to success.

The Clean Beaches program, a decade old now, is based on this model. It aims to improve and preserve beach quality and educate the public and local stakeholders, with financial support from corporate citizens.

It awards trophies to coastal communities — and their partner companies or associations — that improve the quality of their beaches. This public-private partnership has led to strong local awareness of the economic, environmental and social issues relating to coastal areas and has enabled several beaches to fly the Blue Flag quality label. Management of environmental issues and sustainable development fits into a long-term perspective. The role of government policy and regulatory authorities is to provide leadership and set an example for others. Public investment and management of public services must incorporate sustainability.

Businesses and civil society must also be involved and socially and environmentally responsible. Sustainable development can only be achieved by mobilizing all stakeholders and using the full range of available instruments: institutional, regulatory, economic, financial, social, partnerships, and private voluntary initiatives.

Partnership between public and civil society organizations provides the groundwork for a new form of governance for managing sustainable development issues. The National Charter for the Environment and Sustainable Development, called for by His Majesty the King, is the right means to mobilize the nation’s resources.

A social project based on a broad consultation process, it will be implemented through adopting a framework law that guides the activities of all the social stakeholders. It aims to integrate fully the three pillars of economic, social and environmental development, thus effectively putting the Kingdom of Morocco on a path towards sustainable development.

This is how we intend to work together and achieve progress for all. The actors are aware of the stakes involved, and the path is clearly laid out. Genuine change is happening, and stakeholders are acting, innovating and showing the way. We need to encourage and bolster these positive trends.

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