Involvement of young students from Morocco and France in the International Symposium on Water & Wetland in the Mediterranean: The Mediterranean travels of a teaching tool.

After Corsica and Greece, the students of College Pascal Paoli of Ile Rousse (Corsica, France) presented the educational tool «A l’écoute des zones humides» to their colleagues, students of the Lycée Honoré de Balzac Kenitra (Morocco). Under the supervision of M. Abdeslam BOUCHAFRA from SPANA, Morocco and along with their respective teachers, Mrs Jacqueline RODE and Martine PHILIBERT for Corsica and Ms. Assia LECHHEB and Mr Didier LABAT for Morocco,  they effectively participated to the International Symposium on Water and Wetlands held from 6 to February 2012 in Agadir, under the High Patronage of His Majesty King Mohamed VI.

The Symposium was opened with a brilliant speech by Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Hasnaa who noted the great emphasis given to water related environments by the Moroccan state. The Princess then met with the French and Moroccan children who gave her many presents.

The students from Ile Rousse and Kenitra got to really meet each other during a visit to the city of Agadir and the discovery of the medina. After that, the students focused on achieving the task that was assigned to them- under the guidance of engineers from the High Commissariat of Waters, Forests and Desertification Control- they visited the Souss Massa National Park and Ramsar site, characterised by Argan tree plantations and an important wetland.

They appreciated the components of the flora and fauna of the protected area and noted the various human activities present, which may have an impact on the environment and water quality. After that they gathered together in a classroom and exchanged the information they collected. Their work was facilitated and organized by Nicolas FREMONT (CAUE 2B Corse), “put on track” by their teachers, under the watchful eye of “resource persons” Abdeslam BOUCHAFRA (SPANA), Mauricette FIGARELLA (CAUE-2B), Julia CULIOLI (regional Directorate of Environment of Corsica) and Antoine FERACCI (environment Office of Corsica).

Together and in perfect harmony, the French and Moroccan schoolchildren presented the findings of their visit to the Souss Massa wetland site to the participants of the Symposium. In the greatest simplicity and with the right words, the students gave the adults a real lesson of humility: they presented the importance of water to life, presented their approach to reality on the ground and made recommendations to ensure the sustainability of the wetland. Following the presentation there was the screening of a film made by the students of Lycée Honoré de Balzac of Kénitra- the plenary room of the International Symposium was overcome with great emotion, followed by a thunderous applause.

Several speakers said they were “affected” and “moved” by the strength of the joint work and by the power of the speech given by the children. They were congratulated by the participants and these students were recognized by their elders as true ambassadors for the preservation of Mediterranean wetlands. The work of the French and Moroccan schoolchildren will from now on feature in the conclusions of the international meeting. The presence of these ‘citizens of tomorrow’ has hence strongly marked the International Symposium on Water and Wetlands in the Mediterranean.

In Agadir, a step was taken towards the establishment of a Mediterranean Youth Parliament, initiated at MedWet/Com10 at Borgo (France, Corsica).

Article by: Mauricette Figarella, CAUE 2B