This week, I spent my Saturday morning at a climate event at the Bibiliothèque Nationale (National Library) in Rabat.
The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 22) will be in Marrakesh, Morocco this November. So there are a few satellite events around the area to spread information about the event as well as to push climate awareness among Moroccans. One of these was Journée Climat–literally translated as “Climate Day,” where Moroccan and French NGOs set up booths and presented their work to the public.
There were also other programs, including film screenings, a comedy show, and a round-table discussion between environmental organizations.
So in the morning, Elizabeth (YES Abroad), Deja (NSLI-Y), and I took the tram together from Avenue de France in Agdal to the Bibliothèque Nationale. Then I visited NGO tables for the morning and had the chance to speak to many of their representatives and ask them what their organizations did. It was a great opportunity to meet new people, practice my French, and learn about the perspective of Moroccans in regard to climate change.
I learned a lot. Here are some of the highlights!
Organization that does environmental activities among kids
Les Petits Débrouillards is a French/Moroccan group that promotes science and math education among Moroccan youth. It’s also partnered with MEPI (The Middle East Partnership Initiative, part of the US Department of State) to create Youth Engaged for the Climate (YOC). They’ll participate in COP 22 and COY 12 in Marrakesh this year, and they hold lots of discussions about climate action.
Trash collection in Rabat
Two companies, Derichebourg and Solamta, collect trash in Rabat. Their areas are separated by neighborhood. For example, Solamta collects trash in Agdal, while Derichebourg collects in Centre Ville and (I think) L’Océan.
These two companies actually work very hard to make sure that trash gets disposed properly. Garbage trucks run during the night.
In the United States, we have two separate bins: one for recycled material, and one for trash. But even though there aren’t two separate bins here, much of the recycled material (mostly plastic, glass, and aluminum) actually gets recycled. When the trucks pick up trash at night, they bring it to the outskirts of Rabat, where the company itself sorts the water bottles and everything from the actual trash.
There are also independent recycling companies who will sort out the trash, bring it to their own facilities, and recycle it. Recycling happens; the consumer just can’t see it directly in front of him/her.
For the trash itself, most of it goes into a landfill, and a very small amount is incinerated.
I asked them what was their biggest issue that prevents them from doing their job, and they said that it’s just really hard to change the mentality of people themselves in relation to trash—also, that people in general don’t respect the trash collecting times and dump out a huge amount of trash right after it’s collected.
A group called Averda aims to promote awareness that food waste can be composted. They had a compost bin in front of their booth, and they were explaining to people how the process works and where they can get a bin for their apartment.
COP 22 and Moroccan groups
The Coalition Marocaine pour la Justice Climatique will represent many Moroccan NGOs at COP 22.
The Coalition also has a sub group called “La dynamique femme,” constituted of associations that promote women’s rights and women’s conscience among environmental issues in Morocco.
Bags from bags
Plastic bags are banned now in Morocco, but before this year, they were a pretty big problem. An organization called Dar B’Na collects plastic bags from landfills, cleans them, cuts the bags into strips, and then trains local artisans to weave these strips into bags.
Here’s a page on what the organization does:
Short translated summary:
- Dar B’Na finds women from rural Dar Bouazza who can start making products from plastic bags because they’re already skilled in crochet. The organization gives the materials to the rural women. It also gives them models of non-plastic commercialized items, like purses, to learn from.
- The organization also helps women to sell their products when they’re finished. All of the revenue from selling these products is returned to these women.
Producing fuel from school lunches
A university in Kénitra does something where they collect all the food waste, burn it (I’m not too sure how this works) and then turn it into gas that can be used to heat water. I think that the university is still doing research on it, but I thought that the whole idea was pretty cool!
In conclusion, I’m definitely glad that I attended, and I look forward to going to events like this in the future!