Morocco’s Blue Belt Initiative to boost Coastal Resilience to Climate Change launched at COP 22

By Magdalena A K Muir, Advisory Board Member, Climate and Global Change, EUCC
On the occasion of this COP, Morocco will confirm its support for the initiatives relating to the oceans which have been already launched and will launch a new initiative called ‘the Blue Belt’, aimed at increasing the resilience of coastal populations as well as promoting sustainable fishing activities, HRH Princess Lalla Hasnaa, Ambassador of the Coast, said in a speech during the opening ceremony, which was attended by several personalities sar-la-princesse-lalla-hasnaa-ouverture-journc3a9e-de28099action-des-occ3a9ans_g-ecologyincluding HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco.

“On the occasion of the COP22, the Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection will join the Blue Belt,” HRH Princess Lalla Hasnaa announced. “Building on its experience in the sustainable development of three Moroccan wetlands located on the Mediterranean and the Atlantic coasts, the Foundation will take part in the creation of marine protected areas,” HRH the Princess added.
The day dedicated to the oceans at the COP22 “marks a historic turning point” as the oceans are part of the Global Climate Action Agenda, which reinforces Goal 14 of Sustainable Development, HRH Princess Lalla Hasnaa pointed out.
Morocco has always been sensitive to the importance of the oceans on various levels, HRH the Princess said, noting that HM King Mohammed VI has made environmental protection one of the pillars of public policies, development strategies and the regional and international commitments of the Kingdom.
HRH Princess Lalla Hasnaa highlighted the role played by the Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection in raising awareness of the importance of preserving the oceans, adding that the foundation outlined since its inception 15 years ago five priorities, including the protection of coastal areas.
HRH Princess Lalla Hasnaa cited in this context actions implemented by the foundation in this area, including educational programs for children and the youth, the organization of a coast week and the Lalla Hasnaa Sustainable Coast Awards, which aim at promoting original and innovative projects for the coast.
The opening ceremony of the Oceans Action Day was attended by minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Aziz Akhannouch, French Minister of the Environment, Energy and the Sea, President of the COP 21, Ségolène Royal, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, and FAO Deputy Director-General for Natural Resources Maria Helena Semedo.

Further information:
The ‘Blue Belt’, Morocco’s Initiative to Boost Coastal Resilience to Climate Change

The ‘Blue Belt’, Morocco’s Initiative to Boost Coastal Resilience to Climate Change


Africa News- Road to COP22: Blue Belt initiative of Agadir, including video

Increasing temperatures, rising sea levels and ocean acidification amplify extremes of climate change. Finding a solution to minimise the impact on coastal areas has become a priority. As part of our series “Road to Cop 22” we’re in Moroccan city of Agadir to find out more about the Blue Belt initiative.” The Blue Belt initiative stemmed from the Blue Growth concept, launched by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation in 2013. It aims to encourage sustainable fishing, from seas and lakes to consumers’ plates, to allow marine resources to renew themselves. Better fishing practices lead to less food waste.


Morocco Launching Adaptation of African Agriculture at COP 22 For Small Farmers Affected by Climate Change and Drought

white-book-enLike most African countries, Morocco – where 40% of the population still works the land – is already feeling the impacts of climate change on its agricultural production. Last year, during the exceptional season Ibrahimi describes – caused in large part by the regular El Niño weather pattern – Morocco went without rain for more than two months. Overall it received 42.7% less rain during its main planting season than in an average year. The impact on the harvest was catastrophic, particularly on the “zone bour” (dry zone) areas where crops such as wheat, barley and maize are planted. Ministry of Agriculture estimates predicted total output falling 70% on the 2015 season.
“Starting from the early 1990s, we’ve seen on average 15% to 20% less rain annually than previously,” says Mohamed Ait Kadi, president of Morocco’s General Council of Agricultural Development. “The rain now comes in showers instead of sustained downpours, and we see arid areas spreading.” As the host country for the COP22 climate change talks, which open in Marrakechon Monday, Morocco is determined to make this meeting the “African COP”.
Explaining its own experience and acting as an advocate for other African countries, Morocco wants to put the impacts of erratic weather patterns on agriculture at the heart of the discussions. No-one is underestimating the challenges. Water stress, land degradation, rising temperatures and deforestation are all playing a role. Areas such as the Sahel – including Chad, Niger and Mali – have experienced recurring droughts every few years since the 1980s, devastating harvests, economies and traditional farming ecosystems. In 2010 at least 7 million people across the Sahel were threatened with severe hunger and needed emergency food aid from humanitarian organisations.
According to the journal Nature, the viability of all crops in the Sahel belt will become questionable, with maize being the worst affected. By 2090 some 60% of land available for bean production will become unsuitable. Southern and eastern Africa have all suffered catastrophic droughts over the last few years.
Morocco is using the COP22 conference to formally launch its “Adaptation of African Agriculture” (AAA) initiative. As food security becomes increasingly challenged by erratic weather patterns, the initiative proposes measures such as improved soil management, water and irrigation management and better weather forecasting and insurance programmes for farmers affected by drought.
Although the initiative has received some criticism as some of its focus appears to replicate the work already being done by other pan-African agriculture programmes, Morocco believes its main contribution can be to persuade world leaders to sign up to a concrete plan of how to divide up the $100bn (£81bn) promised to support adaptation and mitigation projects in developing countries.
“We have to translate the big ideas written in western offices about responses to climate change into something that actually changes the lives of small farmers,” said Morocco’s minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Aziz Akannouch, at a recent conference launching the AAA. It’s about pragmatic responses – things like irrigation projects, developing oases, improving access to fertilisers and credit.
Further information:
Website of  Adaptation of African Agriculture”

COP 22 will be an Opportunity for the Mediterranean Region to make its Voice Heard

Source: Econostrum

The 22nd session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, COP22, taking place in Marrakesh from 7th to 18th November, 2016, will be an opportunity for the Mediterranean region to make its voice heard

COP22 starts in Marrakesh (photo F.Dubessy)
MEDITERRANEAN. COP22 should give concrete form to the undertakings given by states at COP21 in Paris to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees. Drawing up an action plan is becoming an urgent necessity, with 2016 set to be the warmest year since temperature records began. “Holding COP22 in Morocco will allow us to draw attention to the critical situation in the Mediterranean with regard to climate change, take stock of the programmes that are ongoing and set up new partnerships to move forward,” points out Plan Bleu director Anne-France Didier. 

The Mediterranean is known as a climate change hot spot. According to the IPCC, this part of the planet could see temperature increases of 2° to 3°C by 2050 and even 3° to 5° by the year 2100. By the end of this century, sea levels could rise between 40 and 50 cm, with a sharp decrease in rainfall. With water stress caused by pollution and excessive water consumption, brought about by the urbanization of coastal areas, agriculture and an increase in tourism (the region currently attracts one third of the world’s tourists), countries bordering the Mediterranean could see this situation worsen. Desertification and a loss of biodiversity, already underway, and extreme weather events  are set to become more widespread and frequent; hence the need to think ahead and take action. 

Making adapting to climate change a priority in the Mediterranean

The Plan Bleu, working under the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP/UNEP) umbrella, is organizing several key events during the COP22 meeting to promote the initiatives taken by its Mediterranean partners to address climate change. Among these is the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development (MSSD) 2016/2025, adopted as part of the Barcelona Convention, the 40th anniversary of which is being celebrated this year. But also protocols covering issues such as the global management of coastal areas, which came into force in 2011, the first document to be legally-binding for the nine Mediterranean countries and the European Union, who have already ratified it. Among other stipulations, the protocol calls upon the signatory states to maintain green belt areas along the coastal fringe. 

The Plan Bleu is co-organizing and taking part in several gatherings, such as the climate change trophy awards ceremony, hosted by the French environment and energy management agency ADEME, and the conference on the different energy scenarios in the Mediterranean, in partnership with the WEO, the Polytechnic University of Catalonia and Energy 2050. 

Climate change rate to turn southern Spain to desert by 2100

Southern Spain will be reduced to desert by the end of the century if the current rate of greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, researchers have warned.
Anything less than extremely ambitious and politically unlikely carbon emissions cuts will see ecosystems in the Mediterranean change to a state unprecedented in the past 10 millennia, they said.
The study, published in the journal Science, modelled what would happen to vegetation in the Mediterranean basin under four different paths of future carbon emissions, from a business-as-usual scenario at the worst end to keeping temperature rises below the Paris climate deal target of 1.5C at the other.
Temperatures would rise nearly 5C globally under the worst case scenario by 2100, causing deserts to expand northwards across southern Spain and Sicily, and Mediterranean vegetation to replace deciduous forests.
Even if emissions are held to the level of pledges put forward ahead of the Paris deal, southern Europe would experience a “substantial” expansion of deserts. The level of change would be beyond anything the region’s ecosystems had experienced during the holocene, the geological epoch that started more than 10,000 years ago.
“The Med is very sensitive to climatic change, maybe much more than any other region in the world,” said lead author Joel Guiot of Aix-Marseille University. “A lot of people are living at the level of the sea, it also has a lot of troubles coming from migration. If we add additional problems due to climate change, it will be worse in the future.”
He said that while his study did not simulate what would happen to production of Mediterranean food staples such as olives, other research showed it was clear the changes would harm their production. Climate change has already warmed the region by more than the global average – 1.3C compared to 1C – since the industrial revolution.
The real impact on Mediterranean ecosystems, which are considered a hotspot of biodiversity, could be worse because the study did not look at other human impacts, such as forests being turned over to grow food.
Further information
Science article

Public policies and Action Plans – Mediterranean Cities and Climate Change

8703acf8ad9e2c4f192eef9600a6bdMediterranean workshop on environmental urban public policies and climate change action plans cross-disciplinary analysis. This workshop is organized by Avitem and MC3 and will take place on the 27th and 28th of September 2016


MC3 would like to gather specialists of Mediterranean countries who are able to provide a transversal analysis on policies and regional and national action plans, with the aim of publishing a synthesis of their reflections on the white book.

This analysis must not be a simple summary but rather a proposition for a critical cross-disciplinary approach to different geographical and sector-specific contexts. Four questions are proposed:

  1. What are the strategies and action plans’ characteristics? How could we describe the core of these plans?
  2. Do the policies consider urban particularities of Mediterranean region (climate, culture, architecture, etc.)?
  3. Is there an autonomy in the realisation of the plans, especially at the local and regional levels?
  4. What are the indicators, criteria, procedures, etc. developed to monitor the implementation and the impacts of these plans?

Location : Villa Méditerranée, Esplanade J4, 13002 Marseille

For more information…

MedCOP Climate Conference 2016 in Tangier, July 18-19, 2016

Source: UfM
The Union for the Mediterranean is actively involved as an institutional and financial partner in the organisation of MedCOP Climate 2016 to be held in Tangier, Morocco on 18 and 19 July. The MedCOP Climate 2016 is a Mediterranean multi-actor climate conference aiming to contribute through a regional perspective to the international efforts against climate change, in view of the upcoming COP22 which will take place from 7 to 18 November 2016 in Marrakech.
The Conference will gather the representatives from Mediterranean countries, private sector, civil society, as well as regional and international organisations who will have the opportunity to interact and exchange the ideas during different formats of activities: debates, workshops, events and side-events.
The objectives of this Mediterranean gathering are to highlight the existing initiatives related to the climate action in the region and to formulate innovative ideas by associations of local, national and regional society networks. It will also enable the stakeholders to present their projects and inform about the development of these projects. Moreover, the dialogue should encourage and raise the awareness of the benefit and need of actions against climate change in the Mediterranean region.

Addressing Climate Change challenges in the Mediterranean to advance towards a more sustainable region

The declaration of the UfM Ministerial Meeting on Environment and Climate Change, held on 13 May 2014, included climate change for the first time as a priority area of cooperation for the UfM. It underlined the urgency to address climate change due to its close connection with other major regional concerns, such as energy, water scarcity, desertification, food security, overpopulation and resilience to extreme weather events.
In this context, the UfM Climate Change Expert Group has been created to act as a regional platform, showcasing how a complex system of relevant initiatives, programmes and structures may be brought together in order to create synergies while including stakeholders, the private sector and various levels of governance. Its aim is to enhance regional dialogue and catalyse the identification, support and development of specific projects and initiatives, both in mitigation and adaptation.