By Said Temsamani
By Said Temsamani
Morocco World News
Washington, February 16, 2013
Today many Moroccans live in towns and cities. Urban areas make up the center of the environmental challenges facing our society but they also bring together commitment and innovation to resolve them. In recent years, the meaning of ‘The Green City’ concept and how it could be developed in the future are gaining more steam in the country. This was needed then, and it is still needed today, as urbanization is increasing more than ever.
A large portion of the population lives in cities. In another thirty years, the number will skyrocket. To keep cities livable and economically sound, it is important that construction activities are not conducted at the expense of green space. By now, ‘The Green City’ concept has been embraced by various organizations and government agencies. Other cities and towns in Morocco should now join together in the form of a Moroccan Green City Network. The Green City will certainly attract attention internationally.
The Green City of Benguerir near Marrakesh was established not simply to realize a non-recurring event for sightseers, but as a way to introduce more green into the whole region. This approach will greatly improve the livability of the city and means that organizations, citizens and the government are not only involved in the development of Benguerir but will also start other projects to beautify Benguerir and the neighboring towns: undeveloped sites will become green oases, unsightly construction sites will be blocked from view by covering walls with plants, and mature trees will be getting the protection they deserve. In these ways, plants and green space are taking on functional meaning in everyday life.
Green is indispensable for creating livable cities. The challenge is for the construction industry to work together with the horticultural sector. It will be important not just to develop ideas together but also to implement these plans. These times in particular demand taking action: the future starts now. This exhortation will certainly be taken to heart by the advocators of the ‘Growing Green Cities in Africa and the Arab world– A Call to Action’ manifesto. This means Morocco, as usual, will commit itself not only to sharing its expertise but to apply it as well. And Morocco is looking forward to doing this.
King Mohammed VI has always advocated sustainable spatial development in Africa. In his optimistic vision, he would like to see similar green cities not only in Morocco but in the whole African continent. In Morocco it has become clear that building the region’s alternative capacity has meant much more than just cleaner energy.
Faced with a dramatically different economic and political landscape than just a year ago, Morocco has set out to not only establish itself as green energy leader in the Mediterranean, but possibly even use that new focus to shift the balance of influence in the region.
To be clear, the country’s initial embrace of renewable energy is rooted firmly in the country’s lopsided dependence on foreign energy. While sharing the North African coast with some of the continent’s largest oil and gas producers, Morocco is left to import 95-percent of its energy needs, putting it in a precarious situation where energy prices can, and have, skyrocketed overnight.
Starting a few years ago, Morocco got serious about building the country’s renewable capacity to help meet domestic demand and tap into growing interest from Europe for new energy sources. Frustrated with space constraints and resource uncertainty, Europe had begun exploring the idea of tapping into North Africa’s solar and wind potential with proposals for sprawling projects meant to cushion EU demand and help countries reach the goal of 20 percent of energy sources being from renewable energy by 2020. In Morocco, this was followed by government energy efficiency campaigns and funding for renewable projects, setting a 42 percent renewable goal by 2020.
Anchored by a $9 billion solar plan announced in 2009, the country’s renewable path was meant to both establish the country as a green leader in North Africa and remove the threat of price fluctuations brought on by its dependence on energy imports. And until recently, that the was limit of the country’s energy outlook. Hardly modest, but that was where it seemed to end.
However, as Rabat watched North Africa undergo its deep political and economic evolution of 2011, Morocco’s renewable energy potential took on a new importance. With new governments in place in Tunisia and Libya, long-delayed partnerships in the region seemed suddenly possible. Morocco is seriously looking forward to launching and sharing its green policy, hoping that neighboring countries will benefit from its policies and therefore create a common market that will reinforce the economic and, of course, political capacities of the Maghreb either towards the European market or the rest of the world.
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