While Morocco performs poorly in terms of environment and sustainability perceptions, the country is one of the top-rated places to be an expat thanks to easy living and Moroccans’ friendliness towards foreigners.
Rabat – Morocco is among the lowest-ranking destinations for “sustainable expats,” according to InterNation’s Environment and Sustainability Ranking.
The ranking is based on the Expat Insider 2020 survey, collecting responses from more than 15,000 expats representing 173 nationalities and living in 181 countries and territories. Rather than publishing an overall country ranking based on general insights into expat life, InterNations decided this year to focus on sustainability and the environment.
The report ranks Morocco 48th out of 60 countries, framing it as one of the least desirable countries for expats who are concerned with the environment and sustainability.
Morocco did, however, outperform Saudi Arabia (49th), Egypt (58th), and Kuwait (59th).
The report does not include any other countries in North Africa but ranks multiple countries in the Middle East: Oman (21st), the UAE (22nd), Israel (23rd), Bahrain (29th), Qatar (34th), and Turkey (42nd).
Morocco’s setbacks and strong suits
Morocco boasts a gorgeous natural environment, most expats agree, but they feel local and governmental attitudes towards the environment leave much to be desired.
Morocco performed poorly in the study’s three subcategories, ranking 49th in terms of “Products & Utilities,” 47th in “Policies & People,” and 40th in “Quality of Environment.”
Within each respective subcategory, participants rated their satisfaction with sustainable goods and services, energy supply, waste management, and recycling; green government policies and environmental awareness; and the natural environment, air quality, water, and sanitation.
Recycling and waste management
The country demonstrated poor performance in terms of perception of recycling and waste management, ranking 51st in the subcategory. More than half (59%) of surveyed expats in Morocco said they are unhappy with the local waste management and recycling infrastructure.
In contrast, only 28% of expats globally said they were unhappy with recycling and waste management in their host countries.
Meanwhile, only 55% of expats in Morocco are happy with the local water quality and sanitation, compared to 72% globally.
Interest in the environment
Morocco ranked 54th in terms of local interest in the environment. More than half (55%) of expats in Morocco think locals are not interested in environmental issues. Globally, 30% of expats think their host communities are not interested in environmental issues.
The report quotes one American expat living in Morocco as saying, “I wish there was a greater awareness of the importance of respecting the environment and not littering.”
However, Peris Francis, Sustainability Analyst at Renewable Energy Solutions for Africa Foundation (RES4Africa), takes issue with the basis of the assessment.
“We ought not to give a thumbs up to a country that pollutes more and then comes in with all the solutions for damage control,” she told Morocco World News.
Francis recognizes the fact that historically minimal polluters like Morocco generally rank low on the index compared to the developed countries that have spurred the climate crisis.
In terms of measuring populations’ interest in environmental issues, she pointed out that climate issues do not become mainstream in some developing countries because “they hardly pollute the environment.”
Air quality and nature
Morocco’s perceived strong suits, on the other hand, include air quality and nature.
The country outperformed the global average in terms of air quality, with 67% of expats in Morocco satisfied with this factor compared to 62% globally.
The natural environment is also a point of pride for Morocco, with 80% of expats rating the natural environment positively. Globally, 82% of expats said they enjoy the natural environment of their host countries.
Best and worst destinations for sustainable expats
The top three countries for “sustainable expats,” according to InterNations, are in Northern Europe.
Finland ranked first, with the majority of expats satisfied with the natural environment (98%), water and sanitation (96%), air quality (95%), and waste management and recycling (90%). As well, 89% of expats in Finland believe the government supports policies to protect the environment.
Sweden ranked second, performing well in categories concerning the availability of clean energy and green goods. The majority of expats in Sweden (84%) also think locals are very interested in environmental issues.
The other top countries for “sustainable expats” are, in order, Norway, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, New Zealand, Germany, Canada, and Luxembourg.
The lowest-ranking countries are Vietnam, Indonesia, Egypt, Kuwait, and India, placing 56th through 60th.
Morocco still a great country for expats
Morocco’s poor performance in the Environment and Sustainability ranking does not necessarily make it a bad place to live. In fact, Morocco has been rising in the ranks of InterNations’ Expat Insider surveys for several years.
While InterNations did not publish an overall country ranking this year, Morocco’s performance would have likely improved in 2020 or at least been on par with its last two rankings.
Morocco was the 32nd best country for expats in 2018 and the 26th best in 2019, according to Expat Insider surveys from the respective years.
In 2019, the country performed strongest in terms of “Personal Happiness,” ranking 7th out of 64 countries.
In Morocco, 93% of expats said they are satisfied with their personal relationships compared to 84% globally. As well, 80% said they are generally happy with their life in Morocco compared to 74% globally.
Morocco also ranked 13th out of 64 countries in the 2019 report’s “Friendliness” subcategory. Compared to 65% globally, 87% of expats in the country think Moroccans are friendly towards foreigners.
Morocco is more than capable of improving public sanitation and its recycling and waste management infrastructure. It could also do more to engage foreigners in the country with its clean energy vision.
The country’s inherent warm and welcoming culture, however, is something that cannot be purchased, outsourced, or strategically crafted, and this is undoubtedly what expats in Morocco value the most.