A Circular Economy Approach to Agro-Biodiversity Conservation in the Souss Massa Draa Region of Morocco

Lead country


Participating countries


Project status

Under implementation

Implementing period

From June 13, 2014 to December 31, 2020

SDGs addressed by this project

SDG targets

  1. 15.2 Promote sustainable forest management, restoration, afforestation
  2. 15.5 Reduce habitat degradation, halt biodiversity loss, extinction
  3. 15.9 Integrate ecosystem values into national planning

Project ID: 5079

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Technical team

  • Ecosystems and Biodiversity Programme

Technical area(s)

  • Ecosystem management and restoration
  • Mainstreaming biodiversity


  • Biodiversity financing
  • Agrobiodiversity


  • Deserts
  • Conserved areas


  • Sub-tropical (hot and dry) deserts
  • Key biodiversity areas (KBAs)
  • Productive landscapes/Seascapes

Transformed sector(s)

  • Agriculture
  • Retail

UNDP role(s)

  • Capacity development / Technical assistance
  • Policy advice
  • Support functions


  • Finance economy
  • Governance
  • Management operation


  • Nature finance
  • Green economy
  • Fiscal planning
  • Institutional framework
  • Inter-sectoral coordination
  • FACS strategies for sustainable supply chain (TP 4)
  • Laws/ Policy/ Plan formulation
  • Standards/ Labeling/ Guideline
  • Sustainable land management

Social inclusion

  • Local community/CSOs
  • Private sector

Gender equality

  • Livelihoods for women
  • Women's cooperatives and groups

Gender result effectiveness scale

  • Gender targeted


  • Systems pathway

Risk reduction target(s)

  • Reduce exposure
  • Improve resilience

SDG target(s)

  • 15.2 Promote sustainable forest management, restoration, afforestation
  • 15.5 Reduce habitat degradation, halt biodiversity loss, extinction
  • 15.9 Integrate ecosystem values into national planning

Conventions and protocols

  • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
  • National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs)

Private sector(s)


Hot topic

  • Public-private partnership
  • Structural/system transformation
  • Food and agricultural commodities strategy

About this project


The Souss Massa Drâa (SMD) region in the southwest of Morocco represents an important and vulnerable part of Morocco's share in the Mediterranean Biodiversity Hotspot. However, in recent decades, rapid population growth and the evolving aspirations of its people have led to increasing pressure on the integrity of the region's ecosystems and their services. The unique and globally important forests of Argan tree (Argania spinosa) – the vast majority of global Argan exists in Morocco and 90 % is located in the SMD - are currently under severe threat from a wide range of human exploitation activities. Within Morocco, the overall cover of Argan forests has been reduced by an estimated 50% over the last 100 years and an average 600 ha still continue to be lost each year. The remaining forests are increasingly degraded with very little natural regeneration taking place – even though demand for the highly-valued oil from the Argan fruit has significantly increased in recent years. The long term solution that this project proposes is to introduce the payment for ecosystem services (PES) as an innovative mechanism to reverse the loss and degradation of the globally important Argan ecosystem, in combination with an enhanced valuation of key products from this ecosystem (Argan oil and honey) through improved labelling and marketing. By introducing PES for the first time to Morocco, the project would also contribute to laying a solid foundation for this strategic land-use and conservation tool in the country as a whole. The project aims to achieve its objective through four interconnected outcomes. Outcome 1 will facilitate the creation of an enabling environment for the introduction of PES in Morocco by focussing on the institutional, policy and legal changes needed to support the establishment and piloting of such a mechanism in the SMD region. Outcome 2 will strengthen technical capacities for the implementation of PES schemes in the SMD region and prepare the ground for national level up-scaling of PES concepts and tools by means of outreach, the dissemination of lessons learned and the exchange of experiences with other ongoing programs and projects. Outcome 3 will promote organic and biodiversity-friendly businesses through the improved labelling and marketing of agro-biodiversity products from the Argan ecosystem while ensuring the sustainability of related production systems. By building on the three previous outcomes, under Outcome 4 the project will make a pilot investment in PES as a means of enhancing the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and related ES in the Argan ecosystem.


Conserver l"écosystème Arganier important à l"échelle mondiale de la région SMD grâce au paiement de services écosystémiques et à l"utilisation durable de l"agro-biodiversité qui y est associée.

USD $2,727,272

Grant amount

USD $7,595,000

Leveraged amount (co-financing)


Source(s) of fund

Source(s) of fund


Project metrics

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Geospatial information

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Project reports and documentation