My name is Martine Roberts and I am the newest member of the Board of the High Atlas Foundation (HAF). I am writing to you from Marrakech, Morocco, where I have spent the last month immersing myself in HAF’s mission and current initiatives. As a Moroccan-American woman, I am honored and grateful to be a part of this wonderful organization and I would love to take this opportunity to share my experiences from the last month with you and to invite you to participate to expand our reach and impact.
Poster presentation of the Multi-Stakeholder Partnership project for a Moroccan energy transition towards 100% renewables during the conference in Bonn, Germany. Picture: Konrad Brambach (Germanwatch)
We are living in a time, where the humankind faces an unprecedented challenge - it is the warmest it has ever been on earth since human presence. The dangers of climate change are known since the 1980s but a lack of political will and societal awareness has inhibited the necessary vigorous change. Further, the people, who are the most affected by climate change are also the most vulnerable and the ones with the least decision making power. We are now at the pivotal point, where with every degree a cascade of tipping point and a “hothouse earth” will become more probable. To prevent this we need political will, a new kind of cooperation, innovative technologies, business models and engaged civil society. It is therefore crucial to learn and offer advice to decision-makers informed by the experience from stakeholders on the ground.
In the beginning of January, the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) in partnership with Germanwatch, a German NGO dedicated North-South equity and the preservation of livelihoods, started a Multi-Stakeholder-Partnership (MSP) project for a Moroccan energy transition towards 100% renewables. This project is part of a bigger, African-wide programme called African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) that aims to “accelerate and scale up the harnessing of the continent’s huge renewable energy potential” and advocates for an implementation of the AREI that benefits local communities, improves energy access and is ambitious enough to realize the vision of powering Africa with 100% renewable energies.
While Morocco is a leader in the expansion of renewable energies on the African continent, renewable projects in the Kingdom so far tend to be large-scale. These large-scale projects have to be complemented by decentralized small-scale installations to benefit local communities and to create development opportunities. The Moroccan component aims to support a decentralized approach to energy transition through creating MSP’s at the regional, national and international level. The experiences that will be gathered on the ground from the implementation of such approaches will then inform recommendations for how national and international energy policy frameworks in Africa and Europe could be improved to enable and promote more decentralized management of renewables.
As part of this project, Mr Chemsedine Sidi-Baba, Chair of the Board of HAF-Morocco and Kerstin Opfer, HAF’s Operations Manager, travelled to Germany and participated in the Germanwatch organized conference “Partnership for Transformation - MSP Conference”. MSPs are long-term initiatives voluntarily undertaken by governments, the private sector, research, civil society and other major stakeholders, which efforts are contributing to the implementation of a common goal. They are a key implementation principle of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. MSPs, however, are also highly complicated and often characterized by conflict, power games and individuals. Learning from the challenges and success stories of other MSPs therefore is crucial.
Together with the project staff of four other MSP projects in India, Kenya, Kosovo and Ukraine, we identified through group discussions and workshops that a lack of ownership, trust, and commitment of key stakeholders is one of the main pitfalls associated with MSP failure. Often this is caused by the lack of an initiative’s MSP design that fosters ownership and commitment and by ignoring power relations between the stakeholders. Neglecting important stakeholders, a focus on technical issues instead of building collaboration and dialogue, and a lack of taking into account existing rules, regulations, and procedures were other key issues associated with MSPs.
Creating collective impactful narratives that foster actions, developing a common frame of reference and mindset and fostering dialogue, respect, and mutual learning through networks of change, were identified as key success strategies. Furthermore, by sharing knowledge between stakeholders and empowering the civil society, who is often in a week position due to a lack of power and resources, transparency, and equity is fostered, which increases MSP success. Through establishing institutional processes for engagement, all stakeholders are equally enabled to act as catalysts for change. Finally, through realizing that global change is not one historic moment and one big change but rather an everyday effort of a million small steps the MSP can grow--step-by-step--into a strong, long-term and joined effort towards a common mission.
Transformative changes are realized neither through a top-down nor a bottom-up process alone, but through a combination of both. Cooperative approaches of different actors such as political decision-makers, the private sector, researchers, and civil society are necessary. Transformative multi-stakeholder partnerships can coordinate the expectations of these actors and therefore enable changes that could not be achieved by individual actors. The conference in Germany has provided important lessons learned and thought-provoking impulses, which will guide the shaping of the MSP for a Moroccan energy transition towards 100% renewables.
Project partners from Kenya, India, Kosovo, Ukraine, Morocco and Germany during the “Partnership for Transformation - MSP Conference” in Bonn, Germany. Picture: Konrad Brambach (Germanwatch)
It was a beautiful day today, the 21st of January 2019, meeting farmers and members of associations, meeting high school students, kindergarteners, and municipal representatives. We loved today, learning from elderly people who planted fig trees 80 years ago, and from volunteers who planted pomegranate trees at a newly constructed school. We were in villages, cities, in the Sahara and mountains. We are all home now.
The beauty and the everlasting memories from today--a day of national tree planting for the High Atlas Foundation and its partners in Morocco--are due to its great variation and amazing diversity, the heartfelt expressions, the hard work, the commitments to the future, and the thoughts about the past, all coming together in moments that bring life’s fulfillment.
You may not have joined us today. We hope you plant where you are, when you can. If you like to plant with us in Morocco before the end of March, please reach out and we will provide the support we are able.
The recurring theme that emerged today is that the life cycle, the growth and unknowable experiences that trees endure, also resonate with people, as we live not knowing what tomorrow will bring. And so we live in faith that our future will deliver ever-better and everlasting good for all ourselves and beautiful nature.
Here we have a final moment in 2018 where we can give to uplift the course of families, communities, schools, cooperatives, women's groups, and youth.
Morocco is creating opportunities for its people by encouraging through its policies and programs public participation in all aspects of development. For local communities of the nation to fulfill this enormous opening for transformative change, also means that Morocco can become a hugely important model for other countries of Africa and the Middle East.
Here is one action we can take now together to fulfill this hope:
It is amazing the varied and profound benefits of organic fruit tree planting. It promotes livelihoods, the environment, food security, nutrition, trade, culture, and self-reliance. It promotes women's liberation, youth’s advancement, and - when we organic certify their cultivation - tree planting brings growth and justice to communities that are marginalized.
Plant with us now before the season ends in March. Together we can achieve these truly good outcomes for people and nature, and to realize Moroccan dreams.
Most of all, we at the High Atlas Foundation wish you health, success, joy, fulfillment, and all that your heart seeks for yourselves and communities.
With warm regards and gratitude,
High Atlas Foundation
Crossing the High Atlas Mountains—from Marrakech to Ouarzazate—to get to the Ighrem N'Ougdal commune, the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) decided with the Jewish community in Morocco and all of the local authorities to start planning the first fruit tree nursery in the Draa Tafilalet region. This follows the successful experience of building a community fruit tree nursery near the Akrich Jewish Cemetery for the farmers and schools of Morocco.
Monday, December 24.
The HAF team traveled from Marrakech to Ouarzazate to meet with the local authorities and other government offices and local communities to plan for the fruit tree nursery near the 1,000 year-old burial site of ‘’Rabbi David Ou Moshe.” Since long ago, Jewish and Muslim people have been living in this region with their families, in peace, tranquility, and friendship. This nursery will become like the one in Akrich: a point where the Muslim and Jewish communities will have the chance to communicate more and to build more trust between each other.
The total quarter of the cemetery is estimated at more than five hectares. The HAF will try to use almost the entire area of more than one and a half hectare to establish a fruit tree nursery to produce many local fruit trees, from which all the villages who belong to Ouarzazate province will receive trees. More than that, it will be the first fruit tree nursery in Draa Tafilalet region. However, this project is not without its challenges; the first one is that the land we will use for the nursery is located in a very steep hill. To make this project more sustainable, HAF and partners envision building terraces that could serve as a floor for the planting of the seeds to become future seedlings.
In Ouarzazate province this time, we will have a large amount of land for a nursery—about one hectare and half near the Jewish Cemetery to build as terraces. The terraces we will build in partnership with the Ouarzazate province, and will not only serve as land for the nursery, but also—because the hill is very steep—the terraces will be saving the hill from erosion. At the burial location of Rabbi David Ou Moshe there is an existing well that we can use to water the nursery. However, we will need to install a solar pump, and build a storage at the top of the hill so that we can have enough pressure to water all of the nursery. In addition, a greenhouse will be built to produce more seedlings and make ensure we have all the conditions necessary for each type of seed.
The red lines in the picture above indicate that twelve terraces can be built, as each horizontal line is fractioned into two terraces.
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