World Bank Support for the Development of Morocco’s Blue Economy

WASHINGTON — The World Bank has approved a US$350 million loan to support the Government of Morocco in the launching of its Blue Economy program. The program aims to improve job creation and economic growth, as well as the sustainability and resilience of natural resources and food security, which has increased in importance given the impacts of the war in Ukraine. Building on past World Bank engagement in coastal development in Morocco, the Blue Economy Program for Results (PforR) aims to develop institutional frameworks, improve the integrated management of natural resources, and strengthen selected sectors for a climate-resilient blue economy in targeted areas.

“Bordered by the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, Morocco’s potential for developing its Blue Economy is strong. Its coastal areas already contribute to more than 50% of GDP and jobs in the country, and there is more untapped potential in both existing and emerging blue sectors like aquaculture, seaweed farming, and renewable marine energy. As laid out in the diagnosis of the New Development Model, Morocco has the opportunity to develop coastal clusters that attract investments and creates jobs while ensuring sustainability,” said Jesko Hentschel, World Bank Maghreb Country Director.

Two inter-linked components are designed to form the foundation of the government program. The first supports the development of institutional frameworks to strengthen vertical and horizontal coordination and includes an inter-ministerial commission and regional coordination mechanisms. It seeks to establish a new, collaborative model of operation for sectors and regions, improve budget planning and work towards common objectives.

The second component looks at investment in key blue sector activities. These include sustainable tourism and the aquaculture subsector, professional training in managing the blue economy, the protection and management of ecosystem services, and improving climate resilience in targeted areas. The resulting job creation and economic growth should help stimulate economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will contribute to food security by establishing aquaculture farms and conserving marine resources in protected areas. Gender equality and youth participation will be encouraged through incubator programs and technical support.

“Given the wealth of its marine and other shoreline assets, Morocco’s coast offers opportunities for job creation and an equitable recovery from the pandemic, as well as for increasing its resilience in the face of climate change. Morocco is setting out to create a greener, more resilient, inclusive society. The Blue Economy program is a platform to bring together different sectors and regions to design and implement integrated solutions to manage marine and coastal resources efficiently. By doing so, the program supports an equitable and sustainable society,” said Marcelo Hector Acerbi, Senior Environmental Specialist and Task Team Leader.

Marine surveys, for example, will be conducted to provide a scientific base for estimating the health of fish stocks and determine which measures should be used to manage them. The environmental monitoring of beaches will help ensure their quality, a major attraction for coastal tourism. Surveying coastal areas by satellite will monitor coastal erosion and feed into management decisions on the development of coastal areas. The establishment of 14 new aquaculture farms, including a combination of shellfish and seaweed farms, has the potential to scale up production, attract future investment, and generate new jobs for women and youth, improving the inclusiveness of the subsector.