On assignment in the Morocco office for about three months, I had the chance to have what I could confidently describe as a rich development experience. Getting away from Egypt’s years of unrest helped me develop a clearer vision.
It was striking to see the similarities between development challenges in Morocco and my own country. The knowledge that I gained during my assignment was an eye opener for me, and a stimulating exercise.
The comprehensive approach toward development—adopted by Morocco and supported by the Bank— was inspiring. We have been promoting knowledge exchange, both south–south and across regions. We are constantly highlighting the benefits of such practices to our clients, and telling them how much time and effort we can save by learning from each other. Yet, most of all, we can benefit from it within our region.
In 2010, Morocco was relatively well placed to overcome the impact of the global economic downturn that had started in 2009. The country had developed strategies for those of its economic sectors that had a high potential for growth, which helped promote private and foreign direct investment. The growth strategy had resulted in diversification, reduced volatility, and declining unemployment.
Morocco had recognized the need for a coherent, bottom-up approach to market development. It had also recognized the need for integrated rural development as a motor for agricultural development, and the importance of support structures for producers as well.
To tap the considerable potential of the country’s food sector and integrate smallholder farming into a growth-oriented strategy, Morocco had developed the Plan Maroc Vert (Green Morocco Plan) for the period 2008–2020. The plan is designed to transform the agricultural sector into a stable source of growth, competitiveness and broad-based economic development through a combination of agricultural investment and systemic public sector reforms.
Morocco knew it was vulnerable to drought and climate change. The dependency of its agriculture on rain-fed yields—particularly for poor and vulnerable farmers—coupled with increased water scarcity and adverse changes to the climate in the medium and long run, posed serious social and economic concerns for the country.
The World Development Report (2010) classed Morocco among countries whose agricultural yields could suffer most from climate change. The Moroccan government, increasingly aware of the challenging situation, started to devote a considerable amount of time and effort to the issue, coming up with an integrated strategy to address climate change and the impact of global warming.
The agenda fitted in well with the country’s overall priorities and was well suited to develop the economic potential of agriculture. Climate change is already shaping key policy and investment decisions, particularly in areas such as agriculture and water resource management.
The government correctly identified the opportunity for a win-win synergy to which the World Bank could lend its weight and experience in supporting the design and implementation of the reform program.
By adopting a long-term strategy for green growth and the preservation of natural resources, Morocco can easily be described as a pioneer in the region for its perseverance and consistent awareness of the environmental dimension of its development plans.
I realize I do not possess the necessary technical expertise to be able to provide an accurate recommendation on this matter. I do know, however, that this model could be effectivein Egypt and expand economic horizons of a wide portion of the population.
The plan combines rural development, water, and agricultural aspects of the economy, while observing the right environmental measures. It is indeed the sort of green growth plan that would match the government of Egypt’s vision for growth. Addressing environmental challenges in the form of separate projects has not been very effective in the past. Creating a culture of consciousness about preserving our environment and natural resources will need to be incentivized. Integrating the environmental dimension in a program that is engaging farmers and private sector in a comprehensive market oriented economic model has good chances to succeed in Egypt. This approach is more likely to achieve better results and contribute to green growth.
Such a program will create opportunities for less privileged segments of the population and contribute to achieving the people’s dream of social justice while preserving our environment.