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FEATURE STORY

Morocco Takes the Long View on Green Growth

January 24, 2014

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Morocco is setting both a regional and international example with its commitment to environmentally sound policies
  • A multi-faceted national strategy aims to reduce fossil fuel consumption through increased energy efficiency and a shift to renewables, while investing in the better management of natural resources
  • The World Bank Group is supporting the move towards green growth with a range of operations across multiple sectors

Standing out from the crowd

In a region that has recently come to be associated with social upheaval and anemic growth, Morocco often stands out as an exception.  Over the last decade the country has made remarkable progress in reducing poverty and sustaining economic growth. Policies focused on steady public finance consolidation and manageable budget deficits opened up the fiscal space for sustained investment and social expenditures. Following the 2011 demonstrations, a new constitution was ushered in, accompanied by the launch of a number of reform programs aimed at responding to popular demands for more voice and accountability. 

That the country is also rapidly turning into a beacon of environmentally sound policies and domestically driven climate action is a less known fact.

Green growth

Morocco has set out to reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels. An ambitious target of 42 percent of installed renewable energy capacity by 2020 has been established, coupled with the goal of a 15 percent reduction in projected energy demand through the implementation of energy efficiency measures.  To reinforce its energy conservation and anti-pollution program, the country has also recently started reducing expensive energy subsidies on diesel, gasoline and heavy fuel oil.

Through the Plan Maroc Vert, the national agricultural strategy, Morocco aims to achieve the triple win of growth, adaptation and mitigation. This will entail investments to enhance agricultural productivity together with measures to improve the sector’s water resource management, and reduce its fossil fuel consumption.  Soil carbon management techniques, such as ‘direct seeding’, are also being introduced.

The country has made the sustainability of fish stocks a central tenet of its fisheries strategy, Halieutis, in order to secure the durability of a sector responsible for 500.000 jobs. This is combined with efforts to preserve the coastal and mountainous areas that are central to the future development of the tourism sector, responsible for 11 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Morocco presented the central tenets of its green growth strategy to global private sector players at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos today. The country joins India, South Africa, the Philippines, Nigeria and Mexico in an initiative steered by the United Nations Secretary General to catalyze action on the ground and mobilize political will for an ambitious global agreement by 2015.  

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That Morocco is also rapidly turning into a beacon of environmentally sound policies and domestically driven climate action is a less known fact. Close Quotes

The World Bank Group is supporting Morocco’s shift towards green growth through a range of operations in sectors such as water, energy, transport and agriculture. A recently approved US$300 million Development Policy Loan (DPL) on Inclusive Green Growth supports a package of homegrown reforms to improve the productive management of natural resources,(particularly water, fisheries and coastal zones. It also aims to encourage a shift towards low carbon growth with measures on renewables, efficiency and subsidy reduction. Another key component is the promotion of revenue diversification in rural areas, by supporting the development of emerging sectors such as aquaculture and eco-tourism.

Taking the long view  

Environmental sustainability inevitably involves tradeoffs, but Morocco often takes the long view. Climate change is already shaping key policy and investment decisions, particularly in areas such as agriculture and water resource management. Morocco is well aware that its development trajectory is at a critical juncture. The country’s wealth directly attributable to natural resources is rapidly being eroded. In 2004 the Bank calculated the cost of environmental degradation at 3.7 percent of GDP.

Sectors such as agriculture and fisheries, which together account for nearly 20 percent of GDP, face natural resources constraints.  If land and water are not well managed, the future performance and growth of these vital sectors will be imperiled. The ‘grow now, clean up later’ model followed in the past encouraged the deployment of highly polluting and energy intensive investments, including rapidly growing energy consumption.

Policymakers in the country have placed the green agenda at the forefront of development priorities not simply out of concern for the environment, but to secure a robust and resilient economy that will provide opportunities for all Moroccans, including the most vulnerable, long into the future.