A Princess for the Planet: Morocco's Main Green Gal


Princess Lalla Hasna of Morocco doffs her tiara to help maintain some green space. Photo via Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of the Environment.
Prince Charles isn't the world's only royal trying to do good for the environment: Princess Lalla Hasna of Morocco, sister to the country's current king, Mohammed VI, has carved out a green niche for herself, heading up the Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of the Environment since its establishment in 2001.A mother of two, Princess Hasna often focuses her environmental work on outreach to youth and initiatives that directly affect children, saying early in her advocacy career that:

No one can ignore the effects of pollution on our children's health. My heart as a mother and as a Moroccan is therefore worried when thinking that our sons and daughters do not have the right to live in a country respecting nature and its beauty.

The Mohammed VI Foundation's main areas of sustainable-development work include:

Clean beaches
Efforts to protect the country's 3,500 kilometers of Atlantic and Mediterranean coastline including creating sanitation and garbage collection facilities at beaches, boosting public awareness of coastal environmental problems, adopting the European "blue flag" standards for clean beaches, and offering trophies to recognize beaches that have "undergone a real rehabilitation in terms of infrastructure, equipment, hygiene, security, and environmental education."

Young reporters
The foundation sponsors secondary-school students to research and raise awareness about local environmental issues related to the themes of agriculture, towns, coastlines, waste, water, and energy. It also runs a student photography competition awarding work "reflecting either the positive or negative attitude of man toward his environment."

Flowering cities
The foundation works to develop, protect, and maintain green spaces in communities throughout the country, with a special focus on rehabilitating historical gardens. The Arsat My Abdeslam garden, for example, was planted according to its ancient use as a breeding ground for flora species and is irrigated using traditional, water-efficient techniques. Another project has planted more than 430,000 palms over 10 years in and around Marrakech, where the city's characteristic trees had become depleted and unhealthy.

Air quality
To reduce air pollution, the foundation is working to modernize the urban bus fleet, improve fuel quality, monitor air quality, and enforce restrictions on exhaust emissions.

Green Key
The foundation is working to bring the European eco-label for sustainable tourism facilities to Morocco.

Eco-Schools
Recently launched the EU-supported "Eco-Schools" program at the Dar Essalam El Hassania School in Rabat, where energy-saving light bulbs and kitchen equipment are being installed, students are organizing projects to sort and recycle the school's waste, and plants are being drip-irrigated with captured rainwater.

It seems appropriate to have a woman heading up a major environmental organization in Morocco, where female parliamentarians have expressed concern about the harsher effects of climate change on women, especially in Africa, where women are heavily involved in agriculture, a sector very vulnerable to global warming.

Of course, Moroccan environmental initiatives go beyond those headed up by Her Royal Highness. The organization Pour Un Maroc Vert (Toward A Green Morocco) is currently hosting the second annual African Festival for Ecology and Sustainable Development, which runs through tomorrow, in Casablanca. And in April, a new Environment and Sustainable Development Party allied with other Arab green political groups was founded in Morocco and is working to create "a new political approach for a healthy environment, social justice, and the building of a Morocco for everyone."

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Tags: Africa | Conservation | Deserts

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