Morocco has become a world leader in renewable and environmentally friendly energy projects by investing in wind farms and solar energy plants. Morocco’s goal is to have 40% of the country’s energy needs provided by renewable energy sources by 2020. Morocco has launched one of the world’s largest solar energy projects to generate 2,000 megawatts of solar generation capacity by the year 2020. Five solar power stations are to be constructed, including the 500 megawatt plant in the southern town of Ouarzazate. Construction began on 10 May 2013.
Tourism is one of Morocco’s most important industries and foreign currency earners and the tourism plan Vision 2020 led by King Mohammed VI seeks through sustainable means to continue making the tourism one of the engines of the economic, social and cultural development of Morocco. It seeks to double the number of tourists by 2020 and to speed up regional sustainable development. To achieve this, Morocco has to conserve its resources, particularly water. As part of Morocco’s commitment to observing environmental standards it has signed up to the international Green Key Eco-Rating scheme for hotels and riads which covers technical criteria, management, staff training, and communication. Hotels and riads awarded the international Green Key have to conform to rigorously enforced environmental standards which are subject to ongoing periodic evaluations. The Moroccan Green Key campaign is overseen by a national steering group with representation from authorities, NGOs, and business associations. Renewable energy such as solar heating is a key part of the scheme. The Green Key site states that investigations have shown that Green Key businesses use 20% less electricity, 25% less energy for heating, and 27% less water per guest than non-Green Key businesses.
Water is a scarce resource particularly in the south of Morocco and tourists are encouraged to be careful using water, taking showers rather than a bath, and sending fewer towels to the laundry. Morocco has a major tree-planting program to combat deforestation and desertification as its national parks are particularly vulnerable in the summer heat to fire, as in other parts of the world. Tourists are encouraged not to bathe in or wash laundry in local rivers as these are the main water supply for local communities and if you are camping you should use only designated camping sites, being careful not to leave litter.
Whilst hunting in the wild is legal and even encouraged, many of Morocco’s species are in danger of extinction and a certain discretion is advised. Morocco’s wetlands and forests host many species and rare bird life. Respect for cultural values is also an important part of the interaction between tourists and local communities and preserving their traditional crafts and way of life. Morocco has many pristine beaches and it is important to avoid any kind of pollution or littering. Traveling on arranged private tailor made tours and using group transport can help to limit gas use and pollution.
Many local riads, kasbahs, and eco-lodges, as well as local NGO’s, now encourage tourists to make a financial contribution to the community where they have stayed. This quite often takes the form of helping with education for children and rural women to improve their prospects and is an important part of sustainable tourism. Good examples of this are Kasbah Toubkal which involved the community in the original restoration of the Kasbah and the running, staffing, and supplying of the Kasbah on a daily basis as partners. The Kasbah has helped to sponsor the local school and has many programs that benefit the local community. Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot has concentrated on schooling and empowering local women in the villages to form cooperatives to make craft items and carpets for the shop at the Kasbah.
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