Princess Lalla Hasna of Morocco, sister of His Majesty King Mohammed VI and President of the Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, was joined by high-ranking US and Moroccan officials in Washington, DC late last week to announce a groundbreaking commitment on the environment by Morocco and the major role it will play in worldwide celebrations of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day April 22. In a news conference at the National Press Club, Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Kathleen Rogers, President of the non-profit Earth Day Network, praised Morocco for the positive model it was setting, and joined a senior Moroccan delegation to announce that the country's capital, Rabat, will be one of several international cities and the first in its region to hold a major global Earth Day observance. At a dinner hosted by the King of Morocco, Princess Lalla Hasna underscored Morocco's commitment, saying it would mark Earth Day by unveiling its unprecedented National Charter for the Environment and Sustainable Development--the first of its kind in Africa and the Arab and Muslim world.
Princess Lalla Hasna said Morocco was "pleased" Rabat has been selected by Earth Day, saying it attests "to the significant progress Morocco has made in the area of environmental protection and to its irreversible choice to promote sustainable development." She added, "Morocco will adopt a national charter on the environment and sustainable development designed to safeguard landscapes as well as natural resources and reserves," reflecting "the will of all Moroccans--individuals as well as community groups." She said Morocco has programs addressing climate change in water resources, agriculture, industry, construction, and renewable energy such as solar and wind power.
The EPA's Jackson, top-ranking Obama Administration official on the environment, commended Morocco for "demonstrating its commitment to a clean, green economy," adding "Morocco's leadership on the environment and sustainable development offers a great example for how we can spread this idea across the globe."
Speaking for Earth Day, Rogers said "Morocco is the first African, Arab and Muslim country to engage at the highest level to organize such a national event," adding it would "inspire millions of people to make a personal commitment to the environment for Earth Day and beyond." She praised HM King Mohammed VI, who "has personally overseen development of the National Charter for the Environment and Sustainable Development" through "a process of consultation at the national level." She called attention to Morocco's new $9 billion solar energy project as a sign of its dedication to harness the sun in the Sahara as renewable energy for a green economy. By 2020, Morocco expects renewable energies to account for 42% percent of its total installed power. She noted HM King Mohammed VI has also launched a project to plant one million palm trees by 2015.
The Reverend Jesse Jackson made a special appearance at the press conference, thanking Morocco "for the audacity to host these Earth Day events" and the royal family for their courage in supporting it. "Morocco has made a bold stride on a morally just path, and shown it is world leader on the environment."
The senior Moroccan delegation, led by HRH Princess Lalla Hasna, included: Mrs. Zoulikha Nasri, Adviser to His Majesty the King; Mr. Abdelkebir Zahoud, Secretary of State in charge of Water Resources & Environment; Mr. Fathallah Oualalou, Mayor of Rabat; Mrs. Miriem Bensalah Chaqroun, Commissioner, President of the Executive Board of the Association de Gestion de la Joureée de la Terre; Mr. Hassan Amrani, Wali of the Rabat, Sale, Zemmour, Zaer Region; and Mr. Faical Laraichi, President of the National Broadcasting Corporation.