Interview: Hakima El Haite

How is the country taking active steps to promote sustainable development?

HAKIMA EL HAITE: Environmental public policies being encompassed in the new constitution, the ministry has implemented a strategic sustainable development plan that has a cross-sectoral impact. From now on, every public policy will have to include a component on sustainable development.

Furthermore, the plan comprises a clear policy over three years, which consists of creating jobs and growth through the enhanced industrial management of waste and water. One aim is to sort and recover 50% of industrial waste, and our plan is to first change habits in the industry before moving on to the consumer once the sorting facilities are constructed.

Thus, in 2015, the plan saw the enforcement of legal measures on waste and water management in the industry. Through eco-taxes, the idea is to upgrade the whole industrial value chain so that it takes into account the costs of sorting and converting waste. Currently, 18 waste management facilities are under construction in the kingdom to collect, sort and convert waste (either through incineration or recycling). Conversion and sorting are both intended to create a circular economy and new jobs.

In 2017 the last phase of the plan will focus on consumer habits and the enforcement of sorting waste in households. After having focused on the industry, we will need to move forward to allow all of society to adapt. In Fez, we already have one city that produces light from sources of converted waste; the next one will be Marrakech, which will host the 22nd UN Climate Change Conference in November 2016.

What role can taxes play in sustainability?

EL HAITE: By enforcing eco-taxes and eco-contribution, our aim is to change habits in the long-run. Regulation is very clear: para-fiscal tax protects investment, improves the whole value chain, boosts growth and creates jobs. There are both eco-tax and eco-contribution measures on targeted products. For instance, there are eco-taxes on batteries (Dh150, €13.75) and tyres (Dh6, €0.55), and revenues will be distributed across the sector. We also took a step forward on the issue of plastic bags. Production and commercialisation of plastic bags will be prohibited, starting from July 2016.

What efforts are being made in Morocco with regard to managing its water resources?

EL HAITE: In a semi-arid country such as Morocco, we have a strong awareness of water usage. With 1800 ml of rainwater per year in the north against 200 ml in the south, we need a water transfer policy along with a water-saving policy. There will be a shortage of 5bn cu metres by 2020. To counter this, the government has launched the construction of seven desalination centres to increase resources.

Can Morocco’s experience in the renewable energy sector benefit other countries?

EL HAITE: Morocco’s experience can benefit the can benefit the African and MENA region primarily and also Europe through different channels. First, we believe that we will be able to export green energy to Europe and Africa with enhanced capacity. With a high sunshine intensity, Morocco has to strengthen this capacity with the know-how generated by Noor I.

Second, we have started building an industry in renewables, especially in wind and solar, with a curriculum, engineers, national leaders and efficient subcontractors. Morocco has gained know-how in the construction, launch, operation and maintenance of thermoelectric solar plants that make use of parabolic cylinder collector  technology. In this regard, the vision of the king is paving the way for enhanced south-south cooperation in terms of technological transfer. This will primarily benefit African countries.