Updated: Jul 13
By Yossef Ben-Meir
President of the High Atlas Foundation
The guiding principle of the High Atlas Foundation over its life of twenty years has remained fixed: sustainability is a function of people’s control over the development that improves their lives. Projects by and for local communities are what is sustainable. This principle has always been both our heartbeat and our compass.
Yet, the realities of scarcity, poverty, and, in fact, sustainability, require diverse partnerships in order for the peoples’ projects to be made real. Partners of the High Atlas Foundation are from all sectors, from all tiers, from all parts of the world. They are individuals and multinationals, governments, and small businesses. And they share the same essential core belief that the people must define and create the change they need in their lives. HAF’s partners uplift and move us forward.
One might, quite justifiably, believe that after twenty years, an organization is not just beyond its birth but in fact is in its prime.
Not us. And here is why.
It takes an abundance of projects, over time, to create the trust of whole communities of people—women and youth, farmers and students, professionals and the landless, governments across ministries and civil societies of the regions of the nation. And even with this gift of trust, delivered by grace, integrated projects that reinforce each other and that self-generate their sustainability and replication require years in the making.
The High Atlas Foundation is still young because, with faith and integrated expansion, the nation’s transformation and prosperity are truly, viably close at hand. Moroccan agriculture has features that perpetuate generational poverty, but it also has real potential to become a global model of mass human development.
Widespread cultivation of endemic fruit forests with community water management and infrastructure, along with organic certification; vibrant cooperatives of dynamism processed by growers; monitoring and monetizing the offsets of carbon; and reinvesting this great new revenue in all forms of people’s projects, is the new dawn of which I am speaking, and for which partners of the High Atlas Foundation strive.
We enter our next age today because we are unified and focused, moving forward in leaps instead of steps. On an individual project level, we have achieved some fundamental milestones. But on an integrated level of scale, we have only begun.
The High Atlas Foundation’s life story is entirely a Moroccan one. It is Morocco that seeks the launching of participatory development movements. It is Morocco that constitutionally fixes localized control. Morocco has codified women’s liberation from patriarchal oppression. Multiculturalism is a Moroccan choice and vehicle for solidarity of purpose.
HAF’s twenty years has forged an unparalleled position to help make the difference that communities call for. With the confidence of society, a vital lifeline of partners, and the strategic calculation and realization of the agricultural sector’s potential in setting the people free from poverty, HAF’s maturation is bound to the fulfillment of the Moroccan people. The greatest stride is ever near. Together, we will make it so.