Morocco: The ESEC pleads for sustainable coastal development and controlled urbanization

Ecosystem hosting more than half of the population and representing an important pole of attraction for various infrastructures and economic activities, the Moroccan coast is increasingly subject to several pressures due in particular to urbanization. This, uncontrolled, threatens its ecological balance and burdens its contribution to sustainable and resilient development, estimates this week the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE).

In a notice titled “What urban dynamics for sustainable development of the coast?“, the latter thus looks into the question, focusing on a few factors that contribute to the degradation of coastal ecosystems and the quality of life and well-being of populations. Recalling that the degradation of the coastline entails a total cost estimated at 2.5 billion dirhams, or 0.27% of GDP, the opinion notes that the coastline also faces other risks induced by climate change which have significant repercussions on the urbanization dynamics of coastal areas. In this regard, he cites the rise in localized sea levels, more frequent and stronger swells, the warming and acidification of the oceans and the modification of sea currents, before focusing on urban planning.

Pointing to a context marked by a plethora of policies and instruments related to coastal management in Morocco, the ESEC deplores that “the legal texts and town planning documents do not sufficiently explain the issues related to the coast”. He also regrets structural constraints hampering urban planning, including the slow evolution of decentralization and citizen participation, the absence of an integrated vision of urban development and the need for flexibility and adaptability in terms of urban planning documents. .

Establish a balance between development, preservation and enhancement of the coastline

However, the opinion acknowledges that the complexity of land management hampers land use planning. “This is a major problem that hampers the whole development process in Morocco. The land, in particular the coastline, suffers the effects of fragmentation, which leads, over time, to a parcel structure made up of small portions, due to the wish of the rights holders to preserve a facade on the sea during the successive divisions of the land. coastal,” he adds.

He dwells on the mixed results of coastal governance and development and notes, in this regard, that the law 81-12 on the coast “establishes the fundamental principles and rules of sustainable integrated management of the coast with a view to its protection, enhancement and conservation” and sets itself several objectives. However, its implementation remains slow. It highlights the “insufficiency in terms of convergence of public policies” and the “weak coherence of the territorial planning of the coast”.

Based on the diagnosis of the current state of the coast in Morocco, the ESEC pleads for the urgent establishment of a balance between the development, preservation and enhancement of the coast. “Achieving this vision will help alleviate or eliminate the growing pressure on this vulnerable ecosystem,” he said. The opinion stresses the urgency of protecting the coast from the progressive degradation of the dynamics (effects of non-sustainability) before subsequently engaging in a collective reflection likely to ensure long-term sustainability for this ecosystem in the face of the risks of anthropogenic pressure and climate-related risks.

To materialize this vision, it proposes a series of recommendations articulated around two priority axes: “the establishment of participatory, effective and efficient governance of the coast” and “the overhaul of the urbanization policy based on principles of territorialisation, citizen participation, respect for fundamental rights and preservation of the environment and natural resources”.

Rethinking coastal zone governance and management

Thus, for the first axis, the ESEC calls for “accelerating the implementation of the principle of integrated coastal management through the effective application of Law 81.12 relating to the coast” and for “rethinking the governance and management of coastal zones in with a view to strengthening inter-institutional coordination”, particularly through special agencies (like the Marchica agency) while ensuring that elected bodies are involved in this process. The body also calls for “restructuring the arsenal of documents, diagrams and plans involved in the development and planning of the territory, town planning and the coast, with a view to building a streamlined system of coherent and judiciously prioritized instruments, at the service of sustainable urbanization and development” and “clean up the situation of constructions located in the public maritime domain or in the 100-meter strip prohibited for construction”.

As for the second axis, the EESC calls for “granting municipalities, in accordance with the principles of local democracy and decentralization, decision-making prerogatives in terms of development of their territory, urban planning and the preparation of planning documents. town planning” and to “provide urban planning with effective instruments for the management and development of land allowing better control of the urbanization process”. It also recommends “developing innovative financing mechanisms to facilitate the implementation of urban planning documents, avoid cities being under-equipped and carry out rehabilitation and renovation operations, particularly in coastal areas” and d “assign to the municipalities full responsibility for examining the files and issuing the planning permissions based on the dematerialized one-stop shop”.

Finally, the ESEC proposes to “collaborate with universities and research institutes to develop and conduct multidisciplinary scientific research programs on the coast” and to “set up a national coastal observatory as a monitoring and assistance mechanism for the decision in the area of ​​the coast”.

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Morocco: The ESEC pleads for sustainable coastal development and controlled urbanization

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