Behind all these initiatives are the young men and women in the spotlight in “From Milan to Glasgow: young Moroccan leaders in the spotlight“, a new campaign launched by the United Nations team in Morocco to empower young people for climate action and reduce harmful carbon emissions that are dangerously warming the planet.
For the resident coordinator of the United Nations in Morocco, Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, the new campaign is a “bet on the importance of associating with Moroccan youth involved in climate issues”.
Tip the scales
One of the featured activists is Manal Bidar, an 18-year-old from the city of Agadir, who believesit is young people who can tip the scales in the right direction in the fight against climate change.”
She first got involved in climate and environmental action at age 13, when she joined a group of friends from a local club to clean up a beach.
She is now an ambassador for the African Youth Climate Hub, a platform that brings together activists from the continent, and is an advisor to the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA), an international non-profit organization dedicated to promoting resilience. climate around the world. world.
“The fight of our lives”
Like Ms. Bidar, Hasnae Bakhchouch, a 22-year-old student from Rabat, is mobilizing to fight against the impact of climate change.
“With its harmful effects on biodiversity and the health of living beings, climate change puts societies at risk and can cause conflicts over access to natural resources,” she says.
Ms. Bakhchouch was national coordinator of the Moroccan youth delegation to the United Nations Climate Conference, held in September 2021 in Milan, Italy.
She explains that the aim was to draft recommendations for the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), which took place in Glasgow, Scotland, a few months later.
The conference ended with a “compromise” agreement, which UN Secretary-General António Guterres said was simply not “enough”.
At the time, the UN chief was encouraging the young people and all those leading the charge to keep fighting.
“We are in the fight of our lives, and this fight must be won,” he said.
From coffee to bricks
One day, while enjoying a cup of coffee, Hamza Laalej, a 23-year-old Moroccan student from Meknes, wondered if there was a way to recycle the large amount of coffee grounds that end up in the trash every day.
Months later, Mr. Laalej has successfully turned his idea into a viable green business, where one of the main products is an eco-brick made from a mixture of coffee grounds and ordinary clay.
“Inspired by the Moroccan artisanal tradition, the manufacture of these bricks is based on [using less] heating, thereby helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” he explains.
Since then, he has teamed up with 23-year-old Moroccan Nour El Houda Ben Khoudja to launch a business specializing in the collection, sorting and transformation of coffee grounds into building materials and decorative products.
“You don’t have to wait for the perfect moment to start [a green business]. It’s the obstacles you encounter along the way that make starting a business an inspiring and rewarding journey,” he says.
A round table organized last November, during the launch of this UN campaign, saw other young people present their green start-up projects.
Oussama Nour and Mohamed Taha El Ouaryachi, for example, introduced WAVEBEAT, a company that aims to generate electricity from ocean waves.
The objective is to provide companies operating in the Moroccan port of Tangier Med with a renewable alternative to meet their energy needs.
Younes Ouazri presented an eco-friendly and energy-efficient construction method to build homes, including seasonal residences and resorts, using local materials.
Hicham Zouaoui and Otman Harrak spoke about their carpooling app, which currently allows some 400,000 Moroccans to travel across the Kingdom, helping to save transport costs and reduce CO2 emissions.
For his part, Seifeddin Laalej runs a start-up specializing in recycling plastic waste to make construction materials, which he sells throughout the country.
“It is important that young people believe in their potential and start their own projects based on their professional skills and networks,” he said.
A key player
According to the United Nations Resident Coordinator, “thanks to its climate policy in recent years, Morocco has become an essential leader in initiatives for climate action.”
Thanks to an ambitious program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strategies to preserve natural resources, Morocco intends to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 45.5% by 2030 and reach a of renewable energy by 52% in its energy mix in the same year.
The country is currently one of the few countries to have a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in line with the global 1.5°C target.