Morocco is strongly reliant on agriculture, fishery and tourism - sectors which are already highly impacted by climate change. Moreover the country's resources are under increasing pressures. Some regions are already threatened by water shortages by 2020 - 2040.

Geographic characteristics

Located between the Atlantic Ocean (to the west), the Mediterranean Sea (to the northeast) between the Saharan desert (to the south) and Europe (to the north) Morocco has a strategic geographic position with a large variety of reliefs: large meadows, the Atlas mountain chain with peaks culminating at more than 4000 m, desert and palm groves. With more than 3400 km of coastline, it also benefits from an important sea front which has an effect on the climate, commerce as well as coastal urbanisation. Morocco's geographical location lies between two main climate zones. The north, mainly composed of coastal plains and lowland plateaus, is under the influence of the Mediterranean and Atlantic climate and faces a lot of climate variability between the Atlas Mountains and the coast. The South is composed of semiarid grasslands to arid regions that merge with the Sahara Desert. This setting has a considerable impact on water resources, agricultural production and the whole vegetation of the country. Water resources, characterised by spatial and temporal scarcity and irregularity are under increasing pressure from population growth, the extension of irrigated agriculture and urban industrial and tourism development (1st NC Morocco).

Morocco's economy

In the 21st century Morocco's economy has continuously grown. With an average GDP growth rate of 4 - 5 percent the economy clearly performed better than in 1990s (WB 2012). This situation is the result of a competitive primary sector (agriculture and fishery) and the performance of non-agricultural sectors, especially the service sector which has seen a significant growth. The country has seen an important tertiarisation of its economy with 53 % of GDP for the service sector against 15 % for the primary sector and 32 % for the industry sector (HCP 2013). Agriculture, mining, tourism, textile and agro-industry have been for decades pillars of the economy. Even today the agriculture and fishing activities employ more than half of the employed population. Export plays an important role in the Economy, but the country remains also highly dependent on imports, especially for oil and gas. Despite important investment made in the renewable energy sector these last years, the country will remain dependent on energy imports in the short term. Overall, Morocco's economy has developed positively and proven resilient. However, several internal and external pressures caused growth to vary strongly between the years. Pressures included weather variability, the European financial crisis, socio-political unrests in the MENA region, the volatility of global commodity prices. Economic perspectives seem promising (FMI estimates a growth of 4-5 % in the coming years) but to ensure this stability, efforts will need to made to reduce the country's dependency to European markets and energy imports. Through its high dependency on agriculture, fishing activities, tourism, the vulnerability of key resources such as water and forestry, and an important coastal industrial activity, the Moroccan economy is especially exposed to the impacts of climate change.

Socio-economic factors

Morocco has experienced a remarkable track record on growth and development. However, regardless the economic growth, social inequalities, poverty and unemployment remain important challenges. In 2015, Morocco was ranked 126 out of 188 in the Human Development Index (UNDP 2015). Approximately 13% of the population currently lives either in poverty or just above the poverty line (WB 2014). Out of the total labour force, 9.5 percent were unemployed in 2013 (CIA 2013). Whereas unemployment is higher among youth and urban areas, rural areas are the most exposed to poverty. Despite the large increase in urbanisation, the rural population still represented 46% of the total population (WB, 2001). This population lives essentially on the exploitation of natural resources (agriculture, animal husbandry, biomass energy) and is completely dependent on climate change (NC Morocco 2001). Another important socio-economic factor of the country is the size of the informal economy. The informal sector represents 40% of employment and generates more than 30 billion USD per year (HCP 2009). These aspects make the population very vulnerable to climate change.

Climate change projections for Morocco

The effects of climate change are more and more present in Morocco, which has been identified as very vulnerable country by the 4th Assessment Report of the United Nations intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Moroccan regions are affected by drought, increase of average temperatures, heat waves, changing rainfall patterns, extreme rainfalls, floods, sea level rise. Since the 1960s, an increase of 1° C has been observed throughout the entire country and projections show an increase of 1 to 1,5 ° until 2050 (3rd NC Morocco 2016) . Along with the temperature changes the mountain snow cover will further decrease. Rainfall has become more erratic and has declined by 3-30% in different regions. The seasonal pattern has also changed with increased precipitation - longer and intense rainfalls - in October and November causing often floods and substantial reductions during the rest of the year. Dry periods have become longer, particularly at the end of the rainy season (SECEE 2010, Grant 2011). Annual rainfall will continue to drop over the 21st century and will affect large parts of the country. Projections show a decrease of average precipitations of 10 to 20% across the country, with a 30% decrease for the Saharan region by 2100 (3rd NC Morocco 2016). Dry periods will also extend of 5 days by 2100 (CSC Germany 2013). Extreme weather events such as heat waves, extreme rainfalls, floods, droughts have become more frequent and more severe. Drought in Morocco occurred once every five years prior to 1990 but once every two years from 1990-2000 (Burger, 2014). It is expected that heat waves will last 26 days longer in 2100 (CSC Germany 2013). Finally as result of many climate changes the sea level may rise between 18 and 59 cm before the end of the century (GIEC). Two third of Moroccan beaches are already threatened by erosion and the risk of storms along the coast is increasing (3rd NC Morocco). These climate changes already have important impacts on Morocco's natural, human and economic systems. Especially water resources are under increasing pressure. Water shortages are expected by 2020 and 2050 in some of the Southern regions(3rd NC Morocco).

Climate Change Policy in Morocco

Since Rio in 1992, Morocco has shown great commitment to support its transition to sustainable development. Sustainable Development has been integrated at the highest legislative level, with the 2011 Constitution and the 2014 Charte Nationale de l'Environnement et du Developpement Durable. Morocco was one of the first countries to develop a climate change strategy and action plan, with its National Plan Against Global Warming (PNLCRC,2009). It has ratified a number of international climate agreements (e.g. Kyoto Protocol, NAMA) and is actively involved in the UNFCC Process. Today, the Policy on Climate Change of Morocco (PCCM, 2014) is the main policy document which supports the application of Morocco's vision in terms of climate change. It offers a coordinated approach to the different strategies and plans already initiated, as well as an operational framework until 2040. The recent submission of the Intended Nationally Determinated Contribution (INDC, 2015) and the elaboration of a Green Investment Plan are supporting these commitments. These instruments are complemented by a series of sectorial strategies and initiatives. The establishment of a strong institutional setting under the umbrella of the Ministry of Environment enables good governance and effective monitoring of climate change policies. In addition to the main policies mentioned above, adaptation to climate change is included in a majority of strategies, policies, action plans and programs (e.g. National Water Strategy and Plan; National Plan for the Protection against Floods; Green Morocco Plan (focusing on the Agriculture Sector); National Action Programme to Combat Desertification: National Strategy for the Planning and Development of Oases; Halieutis Plan (focusing on fishery) etc.) The PCCN identifies the following key strategic areas for adaptation: Water Resources, Agriculture, Fishery, Forestry, Health, Biodiversity, Tourism, and Urbanism and Land Development. Moreover Morocco is also committed to developing, in the short term, a National Adaptation Plan (NAP) up to 2030, to better coordinate its actions and maximize their impact in the field of Adaptation. According to Morocco's INDC, adaptation needs will have significant budgetary implications for Morocco. Over the period 2005-2010, Morocco devoted 64 % of all climate related spending in the country to adaptation, which represents 9 % of overall investment expenditures. Morocco expects to dedicate at least 15% of its overall investment budgets to adaptation to climate change(WB, INDC 2015).

What does that mean for the economy and my business?

Morocco is very vulnerable to climate change, due to its geographical location, and is prone among others to more frequent extreme weather events, water scarcity, declining agricultural production, and sea rise level. These impacts represent a significant challenge for the private sector and especially, for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) which constitute more than 90% of all businesses in Morocco. MSMEs are particularly vulnerable because of their low awareness of climate related risks, a low adaptive capacity and the lack of knowledge or support on the topic in Morocco. While the impacts of climate change on the agriculture sector are obvious and initiatives as the Moroccan Green Plan have already been undertaken, the industry and service sectors are also highly exposed to these impacts e.g. flooding of premises, damages of transport routes, rising prices for energy and water, or more frequent gaps in the supply of these etc. Adaptation becomes crucial both for business survival and growth, and at the same time it offers them a range of new business opportunities. While the vulnerability to climatic conditions varies between sectors and companies, some general conclusions can be drawn for Morocco. Climate change is particularly relevant for water intensive industries, such as textiles/clothing, leather production, phosphorous mining, and hydropower. Water is the resource most directly and strongly affected by climatic changes in Morocco. Water scarcity will also affect exporting industries. Agriculture is by far the largest consumer of fresh water in Morocco, making it particularly vulnerable to water scarcity. A disruption in the supply of fresh products from agriculture can slow down the food processing and agro export industries. Climate change will also have effects on the fishery sector and related processing industries. Changes in the marine ecosystems can accelerate the migration and decline of some fish stocks, and the rise of the sea level can damage port and other coastal infrastructure. The tourism industry which is the 2nd contributor to national GDP is one of the most vulnerable sector and is one of the priority sectors of Morocco's adaptation strategy. A rise of the sea level can damage buildings, roads, natural heritage sites and other infrastructure and can reduce the accessibility of beaches. Additionally, a further increase in maximum temperatures and extreme weather events is likely to reduce the attractiveness of Morocco for tourists. Finally, water scarcity will restrict the provisioning of water-intensive amenities such as pools and golfing. The coast of Morocco forms one of the main socio-economic areas of the country with more than 60% of the population inhabiting the coastal cities, as well as incorporating 90% of the industry. As a result of rising sea levels, some areas of the northern coast of Morocco are already eroding at a rate of 1 meter per year (MATUHE 2001). Further risks include flooding of low-lying coasts and salinization of coastal aquifers (SECEE 2010). As no legislation exists that prevents building in the coastal zone, these areas are under particularly high pressure. The vulnerability of coastal zones as well as the increase in extreme weather events are affecting the building and construction sector which has seen an important growth in the past decade.

The Country at a Glance

Population: 33,3 million (2015)
GDP: $274.5 billion (2015)
GDP-Growth: 4.9% (2015)
Inflation: 1.7% (2015)

Morocco - Info Sheet (French)

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Datum:  04.07.2017