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UNECE finishes first Environmental Performance Review of Morocco

UNECE finishes first Environmental Performance Review of Morocco

On 21 May 2014, the first Environmental Performance Review (EPR) of Morocco, undertaken by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in cooperation with the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), was launched in Rabat. The review reveals both progress in Morocco’s policy framework related to environment and sustainable development, as well as major challenges with regard to wastewater treatment, waste management and soil degradation.

The Review states that, since 2003, Morocco has been putting in place foundations for enhancing its environmental policy. To accelerate progress on preventing pollution and restoring environmental conditions, the Government has established a number of national programmes. The 2011 Constitution, which stipulates that sustainable development is the right of every citizen, also helped to give a new impetus to Morocco’s sustainable development goals. In addition, the National Charter for Environment and Sustainable Development, adopted in 2011, has allowed Morocco to redouble its efforts to preserve the environment and strengthen sustainable development.

Despite this legal and policy progress, however, Morocco faces a number of challenges, in particular, with regard to waste management. The current level of sanitation systems, is inadequate in many parts of Morocco, with impacts on public health and ecosystems. Although by late 2012 the wastewater treatment level had increased to around 37 per cent, up from 8 per cent in 2005, the rate is still unacceptably low and reflects the shortage of municipal wastewater treatment plants. Past and current deficiencies in waste management are also having negative effects on the environment, including the pollution of surface water and groundwater, the proliferation of rodents, the release of nauseating odours and toxic fumes, the deterioration of landscapes and urban and peri-urban spaces, soil contamination and the risk of fires and explosions. Waste incineration (tyres, used oil and treated wood) in kilns and bathhouses is a major source of air pollution. Also, a large portion of waste is still disposed of in illegal dumpsites — often sources of methane and other gas pollutants — and are frequently located in or along streams or riverbeds and areas where water resources are vulnerable, which causes water pollution.

Another key area for concern are the excessive rates of soil degradation in Morocco, especially in the regions of the north and north-west where they exceed 2,000 tons per square kilometre annually. Water stress amplifies pressures on soils and aridity is a major cause of soil erosion. Some 93 per cent of soils are subject to significant aridity, with more than 23 million hectares affected by erosion, and the silting-up of dams aggravates the situation. These issues are compounded in turn by desertification and deforestation, with some 30,000 hectares invaded by the desert each year and hundreds of oases disappearing, threatening biodiversity and the lives of 2 million inhabitants.

The Review concludes with a set of 60 recommendations to help Morocco to improve its environmental management, to better integrate the goals of sustainable development into sectoral policies, to promote greater accountability to the public and to strengthen cooperation with the international community. The recommendations were approved by the UNECE Committee on Environmental Policy.

The efficiency and effectiveness of the EPR methodology have attracted the attention of countries outside of the region, leading to requests for a transfer of know-how from UNECE to other United Nations regional commissions.

The EPR of Morocco is based on an information-gathering mission to the country in November 2012, and takes stock of progress made by Morocco since 2003 in 13 areas of importance to the country related to environmental policymaking, implementation and financing, environmental monitoring, water, air protection, waste, energy, biodiversity conservation, agriculture, industry, health and cooperation with other countries on the environment.

The Review and its highlights are available online from

For more information on the EPR Programme, please visit:

or contact [email protected].

Note to editors

In 1993, at the Second “Environment for Europe” (EfE) Ministerial Conference, ministers requested UNECE to undertake EPRs in countries that were not Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development members. By 2004, the first cycle of reviews was completed (with the exception of Turkmenistan carried out in 2011). UNECE is now finalizing the second round of Reviews, taking stock of the progress made since the first review, and putting particular emphasis on policy implementation, integration and financing, and the socioeconomic interface with the environment.

At the Seventh EfE Ministerial Conference in Astana in 2011, Ministers and heads of delegations reaffirmed their support for the UNECE EPR Programme. They encourage UNECE to pursue a third cycle, focusing, among others, on environmental governance and financing in a green economy context, countries’ cooperation with the international community and environmental mainstreaming in priority sectors.

Since 2013, ECE has carried out third cycle EPRs in Montenegro, the Republic of Moldova and Serbia.

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Information Unit

Tel.: +41 (0) 22 917 12 34

Email: [email protected]

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