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Marrakech Recommandations
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  1/ VISION

Starting with the two key topics of the Forum, water and forests, it is obvious that the international context is impacted by various uncertainties related to geopolitics, wars, various conflicts, climate change, economic crises, etc. All these uncertainties impact the national context. Despite these uncertainties, Morocco is called upon to update and refine its vision for the future, distinguishing between short-term, medium-term, and long-term perspectives. It is recommended that this vision be based on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, with an emphasis on climate change and the severity of the current drought.

  2/ WATER SECTOR

Message 1 to the Government:

Given the severity of the drought, the Government is urged to improve water sector governance by implementing a general, coordinated, shared, and convergent mobilization, eliminating silo operations. Additionally, the Government is called to strengthen advanced regionalization in terms of decision-making power and funding for Hydraulic Basin Agencies (ABH). Regarding legislation and regulation, the existing legal framework must be adapted to the new circumstances.

On a technical level, the Government is urged to ensure better protection of dam watersheds, significantly increase the desalination of seawater, the demineralization of brackish water, and the transfer of water between hydraulic basins. The same applies to controlling groundwater withdrawals, protecting them from overexploitation, and possibly recharging them.

Message 2 to ABH:

The orientations and measures decided at the central level cannot be effective and impactful if they are not implemented at the regional, provincial, and communal levels. ABHs are called upon to ensure this implementation. To this end, they are asked to mobilize, in a concerted manner, all stakeholders to update and implement their Integrated Water Resource Management Master Plans (PDAIRE).

On a technical level, ABHs must fully play their role in effectively and sustainably managing surface and groundwater; exploit all existing water capture possibilities, particularly small dams and hillside reservoirs; meet the needs of all users; conduct water analyses to combate all sources of pollution as well as treat and reuse all wastewater; and take necessary measures to improve water distribution networks and reduce losses.

 

  3/ FORESTRY SECTOR

Forests and biodiversity, being the second topic on the FIA meeting agenda, received special attention from the participants due to their numerous virtues and services to humanity. They emphasized the ecological roles of regulating the climate, combating soil erosion and dam siltation, infiltrating water into aquifers, feeding springs, and improving the fertility of agricultural lands. Given that forests harbor the great wealth of animal and plant biodiversity, participants recommend strengthening governance by the Government and the National Agency for Water and Forests (ANEF), treating the forest as a living being with a soul that can respond to human action.

On a technical level, the best required practices must be ensured, including the regeneration of trees and undergrowth. Soil quality must be protected, and plantations developed considering species and their adaptability to local biotope specifics. Specific cases such as the Marrakech palm grove, oases, Toubkal, the High Atlas, desert areas affected by nomadism, and urban plantations were particularly examined. The case of the Souss Massa argan grove was particularly highlighted due to the significant socio-economic impacts on rights holders and women's cooperatives. Public authorities are urgently called to address management dysfunctions.

 

  4/ AGRO-SILVO-PASTORALISM

The challenge for participants was to determine an ecosystem model that best ensures resilience against climate change by combining the best practices in agriculture, livestock, forestry, and biodiversity. They ultimately opted for agro-silvo-pastoralism. This model conserves water, protects soil quality, promotes tree and biodiversity growth, generates income and jobs, and provides healthy, quality products.

The Ministry in charge of agriculture, rural development, and forestry, along with its regional and local services, are called to take responsibility for refining, popularizing, and generalizing the concept of agro-silvo-pastoralism in suitable regions. Participants emphasized that success and efficiency lie as much in technical considerations as in governance, particularly mobilizing regional services and strengthening cooperation among them and with other local development actors.

 

  5/ SERVICE PROVISION

Participants observed that Hydraulic Basin Agencies and ANEF are absorbed by routine tasks and hardly extend these activities to others that can also add value to these tasks. They advocate for strengthening service provision, such as supporting investment project holders; assisting citizens affected by natural disasters, water scarcity, and forest fires; conducting studies, research, and opinion surveys; educating in schools; and organizing conferences and workshops in universities.

 

  6/ COMMUNICATION

Participants noted that the communication sector, like governance, despite its importance, has significant gaps at the levels of the Government, its regional and local representations, NGOs, universities, and the media.

Regarding water, they noted that the drought situation and fear of drinking water shortages have led the Ministry to communicate only about dam filling rates and water transfers between regions. The Ministry in charge of water, along with ABHs, is called to communicate on all relevant topics to encourage citizens to conserve water and protect groundwater from overexploitation and depletion. As for ANEF, communication on forest and biodiversity protection against degradation is practically nonexistent. They stressed that communication requires political will, transparency, and advocacy by various civil society actors.

NGOs, Universities, and the Media: These entities form the country's militant elite and complement each other by producing knowledge, appreciating local expertise, and maintaining close contact with citizens. They are called to further develop collaboration and scientifically convincing joint actions in information, awareness, guidance, and support to prevent numerous forms of water waste and forest and biodiversity degradation.

 

  7/ MESSAGE TO PRIVATE ECONOMIC ACTORS' ORGANIZATIONS

Considering that the economy is a crucial factor in influencing citizen behavior, its role in the water and biodiversity sectors is fundamental. They are called to encourage investments in both production and use. Targeted areas include agriculture, forest rights holders, industries, particularly agro-industry, tourism, and traditional hammams. The role of bankers is also emphasized, as they should require Environmental Impact Studies meeting current quality standards for financing access.

 

  8/ GREEN BELT

Participants of the Forum, who were numerous and highly competent and aware of climate threats, water resource reduction, forest and biodiversity degradation, and their worrying consequences on food security, advocated for launching a dynamic for establishing a green belt composed of numerous agro-silvo-pastoral farms along the Atlantic coast. They also noted that the proposal aligns with His Majesty King Mohammed VI's projects related to the development of the Atlantic coast, the Nigeria Gas Pipeline project, and even the greening of the 2030 World Cup planned with Spain and Portugal.

                                                                                               Abdelhadi BENNIS, 16/4/2024

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