The voice of the South of the world

Photo by Larm Rmah, Unsplash

For this 11th edition of the WEEC, a congress in which the Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of the Environment always takes great pleasure to participate, I come, on behalf of HRH Princess Lalla Hasnaa, to bring the voice of the South. I do so with all the more conviction as almost 10 years have passed since the congress we hosted in Marrakech in 2003, where we launched an appeal. You may remember it.

I hope you do. Because we called for the strengthening of cooperation in the service of environmental education, especially from the countries of the North to the countries of the South who face particular circumstances that challenge their ability to carry out the essential efforts of education for sustainable development.

While some significant progress was made for the people and the planet in those events, there is a genuine question to be put forward when it comes to the global ownership of that progress, from a civil society perspective. Indeed, again, there were few civil society representatives from the Global South in those events.

And this is far from being an exception of this forum. It is unfortunately still, in 2022, a common reality that we must urgently and meaningfully address. Just a few weeks ago, the Foundation sent a delegation to UNEA 5 and UNEP @50.

But you know very well that in this great event, the most interesting thing, forgive me for saying it, is all the contacts that are made in the corridors, this conviction and this shared human warmth for education for sustainable development. And you know how much we, the people of the South, need this contact, this dialogue and this warmth.

You can see this for yourself in this large room that brings us all together. Many representatives from the South did not have the means to travel, regardless of the Covid-19, so, with the new uses that we have learned from this pandemic, they are following the words that I am saying to you right now behind the screen of their computer.

In addition, while the Global South is connected by similarities in challenges, it is also enriched by the diversity of our contexts and paths. As such, it is not enough to just include a few global south voices, the inclusion of the Global South must not be a monolith but instead must reflect the spirit of leaving no one behind.

We do not lack ideas and practices. We even have some to transmit. In Morocco, in Africa, in South America, the populations have environmental practices that are thousands of years old, certainly developed out of necessity but also out of concern for nature. In the South, the circular economy is not an empty word. Nothing is thrown away, everything is recycled, everything is transformed. Low Tech, whose virtues are being rediscovered, is a daily reality. Indeed, we draw our ideas from nature itself, for lack of access to technology, to industry, and this is perhaps a good for a bad.

Through several programs that we have coordinated with our partners across Africa, such as the African Youth Climate Hub and the African Green Universities and Youth Education Network, we have listened and we have learned. And then we have co constructed with African Youth. And what we have co constructed is based on the fact that African Youth are not looking for generic support.

African Youth are looking for partnerships and advice to fully seize the opportunities that they identified themselves, through solutions they have designed themselves. This is the new African Reality and it is largely led by youth.

The policies put in place for the protection of heritage against climate change are not always contextualized with the needs of the South, which sometimes finds itself alone and isolated to deal with disruptions to heritage values ​​and the lives of communities, considerably limiting their ability to access, benefit from and practice their culture.

We must therefore work together to reconcile ourselves to our territories and our practices through the appreciation of our heritage in all its forms of expression, source of inspiration and witness to our transcendence, heritage reminds us that the well-being of Man must converge with the well-being of nature.

Let’s do it together. Let’s really unite. This is the wish that I formulate here, in the name of the South. It is a wish, it is a call for solidarity at all levels and all over the world for the benefit of the people and the planet, leaving no one behind.