A representative of the Party for the Animals spent a week travelling around Morocco in search of possible collaborations with Moroccan organisations promoting the interests of animals, nature and the environment. Conclusion: Morocco offers many opportunities in the field of sustainability and animal welfare.
In the Moroccan cities Casablanca, Rabat and Tangier, Party for the Animals´ senator Christine Teunissen spoke to animal welfare organisations, environmental organisations and local politicians. The organisations informed Teunissen about the country’s many cases of rabies, its growing water scarcity, its loss of 30,000 hectares of forest each year and its Barbary macaques who are threatened by agriculture. Despite having different focuses and approaches to these problems, the organisations all stressed the importance of education and collaboration with local communities to bring about a fundamental change. As the director of one of the animal welfare organisations explained: “You have to inform and include the public and show them that animal welfare also means human welfare. As Muslims, we have an obligation to take care of our environment. Our goal is to have people, nature and animals live together in harmony.”
From Teunissen’s conversations in Morocco, it has become clear that the country shows great opportunity for a sustainable and animal-friendly future. For instance, Morocco gets 34 percent of its energy consumption from renewable energy sources (compared to 5.9 percent in the Netherlands), it is home to the largest wind farm in Africa and the largest solar plant in the world, and the Moroccan authorities have stopped subsidising fossil fuels. Plastic bags are prohibited throughout the country and in Marrakesh, host to the 2016 United Nations Climate Change Conference, all buses are electric. In Rabat and Tangier, local authorities work with animal welfare organisations on the vaccination and sterilisation of stray dogs, and the hunting policy for these animals seems to be drawing to a close.
Morocco is a country of monoculture farming, which is at the expense of biodiversity. However, the environmentally harmful livestock sector is relatively small, which, according to Teunissen, gives Morocco the chance to become a leader in sustainable vegetable agriculture. “It is now commonly known that a shift from animal protein to plant protein will feed more people while being less damaging to the planet. Using Morocco’s powerful agricultural sector will stimulate crop diversity and make these crops available to human consumption. Regrettably, we have seen that the Netherlands intends to pass on its livestock-industry practices to farmers in Morocco, which would be a disaster for nature, animals and the environment.”
Since its establishment, the Party for the Animals has been working on the internalisation of its growing political movement, resulting in 17 sister parties across the world and close contacts in Central and Eastern European countries. This year, the party will expand its activities to the Arab region. The Party for the Animals believes collaboration with like-minded people in other countries to be essential, since animal welfare, nature and environment are transnational issues. The focus is on collaboration with organisations that promote change by political or administrative means.