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Civil Society Organisations

We need to communicate clear recommendations and values

Mrs El bouhmadi Latifa, from the AESVT, the local partner of SwitchMed's ‘Civil Society’ programme in Morocco, has been working for many years in the field of environmental awareness. Here, she talks about how Moroccan society is waking up to these issues and the actions that have been undertaken to progressively integrate the values of sustainable development.

 

- Tell us about your organisation’s activities?

AESVT Morocco organises a range of activities that can be summarised as follows:

- Environmental education: training club leaders; organising regional events; developing and promoting interactive exhibitions on water, climate change, solid waste, biodiversity, etc.; organising annual national meetings on national or regional environmental problems; biodiversity protection projects; development of teaching resources...

- Health education: training health club coordinators, peer educators...

- Teaching methods for LES (life and earth sciences): organising campus days, training seminars and field trips...

- Membership of constitutional structures: the AESVT is a member of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council

- Attendance of various international meetings (e.g. Conference Of the Parties - COP)

 

- Please tell us about yourself

My name is El bouhmadi Latifa and I teach Life and Earth Sciences (LES). I am also manager of the Environmental Education Centre (CEE) in Casablanca and president of the AESVT's Mohamedia section. I also coordinate the cleanliness co-production project in a district of Casablanca and I used to coordinate the environmental education club and a health education club in my former school (2000-2009).

 

- To what extent is there an awareness of the need for sustainable production and consumption in Moroccan society?

Engagement with sustainable development is still in its early stages in Morocco and the means used so far do not reach all levels of society.

The university-level Moroccan consumer is increasingly aware of and concerned about environmental issues and shows a more open attitude towards environmentally sustainable consumption. According to a study performed in Morocco on a target population consisting mostly of university students and lecturers, asking them whether they would be willing to take steps to protect the environment, a great majority of respondents answered that they would be willing to change their lifestyle and pay a little more for environmentally friendly products (Amina AOMARI Teacher-Researcher).

The Moroccan consumer is forced to choose between his pocket and his conscience. The results show that the factors that influence Moroccan consumers' buying behaviour are, first of all, price, then product and service quality, and last of all, ecological cost.

They also consider that the indicators currently used to identify ‘ecological’ products are not pertinent enough. The consumer does not have all the necessary information at the point of sale to guide him in his purchase, which seems to be totally at odds with developing responsible consumption.

Changing consumption habits is a social process that requires education and activism by consumer associations, environmental movements and government authorities.

Changing consumption habits is a social process that requires education and activism by consumer associations, environmental movements and government authorities.

On the basis of our experience at the AESVT, we can confirm that the Moroccan consumer lacks information on environmentally friendly products and the dangers of overexploiting natural resources. However, when he is made aware of these issues, he shows interest and expresses a desire to change his behaviour.

However, for other people of a lower socioeconomic level, the problem of sustainable development is not their first concern as their greatest worry is to feed their families.

 

- How do Civil Society organisations approach this issue? What are their strengths and weaknesses? How can we help them improve their actions?

With the new constitution in Morocco, civil society is starting to have a larger field of action.

The associations are organising different types of activities to generate awareness of sustainable consumption, for example:

- Endowment, management and promotion of environmental education centres (the AESVT has opened 20 in Morocco).

- Awareness-raising and educational activities in schools.

- Events campaigning against excessive consumption of plastic, for example.

- Activities to create awareness of the dangers of air pollution and to promote clean transport.

 

- You are very active in the field of environmental awareness. What actions have you found most successful?

The environmental education centres, where interactive thematic exhibitions are organised for schoolchildren, teachers, parents, NGOs (some centres have managed to reach more than 10,000 people per year). Training and monitoring school club coordinators in their environmental projects, and mobilising teachers to do things for the environment give good results. The national meetings involving AESVT members (environment days and campus days) are also good opportunities for sharing.

 

- You have chosen local trainers who will come to SwitchMed Connect to prepare the SwitchMed workshops. In your opinion, what challenges do these training activities face?

The priority is to communicate clear recommendations and values. We must foster eco-citizenship and find an effective way that will enable us to contribute to building a modern, caring society based on the principles and values of sustainable development (water management, waste management, transport and so on).

 The priority is to communicate clear recommendations and values.