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UN highlights Moroccan youth-led initiatives against climate change

Six initiatives by young people in Morocco are leading the fight to mitigate the effect of climate change
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The commitment of young Moroccans in the fight against climate change is increasingly being recognised by several international institutions. The UN has highlighted the action and innovative solutions of these young people who are dominating the climate advocacy scene by demanding changes from legislators and spearheading green businesses.

All green initiatives have been taken into consideration by the UN, which launched the new campaign "From Milan to Glasgow, Moroccan youth leaders in the spotlight". This proposal announced by the United Nations team in Morocco aims to "empower young people to take climate action and reduce the damage of carbon emissions that are dangerously warming the planet". For the UN Resident Coordinator in Morocco, Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, the new campaign is a "bet on the importance of partnering with Moroccan youth committed to climate issues".

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One of the most prominent activists is Manal Bidar, an 18-year-old from the city of Agadir. She is an advisor to the Global Adaptation Centre, a non-profit organisation that promotes climate resilience around the world, and an ambassador for the African Youth Climate Hub, a platform that connects young activists across the African continent. "It is young people who can tip the balance to the right side in the fight against climate change," Bidar commented on the new campaign.

Hasnae Bakhchouch is another example of young Moroccans opting for political activism. The 22-year-old was a national coordinator at the UN Youth Climate Conferences in Milan. From this session, the Moroccan youth delegation joined the other international delegations in drafting recommendations for the World Climate Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, where UN Secretary-General António Guterres encouraged young people to continue fighting climate change. Bakhchouch noted that "with its adverse effects on biodiversity and the health of living beings, climate change puts societies at risk and can lead to conflicts over access to natural resources," she added.

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However, in addition to these examples of Moroccan activists, there are also other young people who choose to set up green business enterprises. Hamza Laajel is one such example, a 23-year-old who thought of recycling thousands of tonnes of coffee grounds that go to waste every day. Together with Nour El Houda Ben Khoudja, the young mens launched Clayeco, a business model that turns coffee grounds into eco-friendly building bricks and decorative materials. "Inspired by Moroccan artisanal tradition, the production of these bricks is based on using less heating, which helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions," explains Laajel.

Oussama Nour and Mohamed Taha El Ouaryachi decided to found Wavebeat, a commercial initiative that generates electricity with sea waves that aims to provide a green energy alternative to Morocco's largest seaport, Tangier MedPort. 

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Alongside her, two other young Moroccans, Hicham Zouaoui and Otman Harrak, launched a ridesharing app, Pip Pip Yalah, which operates with more than 400,000 customers in Morocco, and aims to reduce the carbon footprint and CO2 emissions.

The last initiative highlighted by the UN corresponds to the work developed by young Seifeddin Laalej, who created Zelij Invent, a company specialising in the recycling of plastic waste for the manufacture of construction materials. The initiative won the title of the world's best green startup from the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) in 2018. 

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Morocco has an ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction programme and strategies for the preservation of natural resources to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 45.5% by 2030. According to the UN Resident Coordinator, "thanks to its climate policy over the past few years, Morocco has become a key leader in climate action initiatives".