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"Africans can build Africa” says Morocco's Environment Champion

Morocco's Environment Minister Hakima El Haite
Morocco's Environment Minister Hakima El Haite Reuters/Youssef Boudlal

For two weeks, Hakima El Haite was under the spotlight at global climate talks in Marrakesh. As Climate Champion and environment minister of host country Morocco, cameras followed her everywhere. The ex-business woman come minister, oozes glamour. Bur her near celebrity status hasn’t stifled criticism about the outcome of COP 22.


In a quiet room located in the Morocco pavilion at the COP22 village site at Bab Ighli, Hakima El Haite is wrapping up her fifth interview of the day.

Photographers myself included--hover by the door to catch a glimpse of the Moroccan environment minister who’s made the fight against climate change a cornerstone of Rabat’s policy.

Her busy schedule the previous day kept me waiting for three hours. This time I get her.

“What I have seen in Morocco is something I have never seen anywhere in the world,” she tells me after world leaders adopted the Marrakesh Proclamation to ramp up efforts to reduce global warming.

“We destroyed all the walls and we built bridges between the climate negotiations and the real world.”

The bridges she’s referring to are businesses, investors and local authority actors. Influential in assuring the success of the last Paris climate pact, this time they were crucial in spearheading the launch of a “new economy”.

“This is the future which has been built here,” she says over her pink, pouty lips.

“We created the mechanism and the tools to help everybody, we opened the door to the philanthropists, the financial institutions (…) I really believe that the money is coming when you have a good project, good policy, transparency…”

For less developed countries however, the money is coming at a trickle pace.

Despite “a year of hard work” under the merciless glare of cameras, the outcome of COP 22 has also exposed Moroccan authorities to criticism that it’s leaving poor countries behind.

“We’ve created a network of capacity building which now has funds – and which today is able to go and prepare the NDC’s [Nationally Determined Contributions] to build capacity within all the southern countries,” says El Haite in response to criticism.

“Second, we created the NDC partnership – so it can go all around these poor countries to prepare their NDCs, go to the green fund and bring money for them.”

There was no progress however on a hotly-anticipated Adaptation Fund to help poor countries withstand the effects of climate change.

Criticism is especially rife given that the Marrakesh climate talks took place in Africa – a region itself vulnerable and ill-equipped to tackle global warming.

“We are African, don’t forget it” insists El Haite.

She has a point. No other country has done more to push the case of Africa at climate talks than Morocco.

“We share the feeling of belonging to the same soil. We believe in South South cooperation because the technologies in the North are not adapted to the Southern countries.”

Rabat is stepping in to fill in the blanks. The hosts launched a flurry of initiatives at COP22-- such as its ambitious Triple A initiative (Adapting African Agriculture)--to help African farmers adapt to climate change.

They hope to attract multiple investments to help farmers “earn money.”

“We believe that Africans can build Africa,” adds El Haite.

“We have the research, we need to work together to make it happen.”

Is this a calculated move to assure Morocco’s re-entry into the African Union when delegates vote in January?

“The AU is our family," she replies.

"I think as Africans we need to have the same voice. We need to work together to make Africa shine, she said."

To listen to the full interview with Hakima El Haite, click below:


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