Mohamed Sefiani, the mayor of the blue city that wants to be green
Elected Mayor of Chefchaouen in 2009, Mohamed Sefiani has been armed since the first day of his mandate with a great ambition for the blue pearl: to make it the first tourist “eco-city”. Located in the Rif mountains in northwest Morocco, the city also called “Chaouen” has become a must-visit destination in the Kingdom, because it fascinates by the beauty of its landscapes, its crafts, its cuisine, its natural and historical spaces, not to mention its blue colored alleys and buildings in its old town. This unique aspect of Chaouen also makes it one of the most photographed cities in the world.
Attractive and popular with Moroccan and foreign tourists, it is also a city that is actively working to transition into sustainable tourism. Proclaimed “Ecological City” by its council in 2010, Chefchaouen has since distinguished itself by continuous efforts on this path. Committed, Mr. Sefiani multiplies projects to, among other things, experiment and develop solutions for environmental preservation, energy efficiency, development of renewable energy and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, with the mobilization of actors in the framework of important partnerships.
In 2018, the city of 43,000 inhabitants took a new step with the participatory development of the Chefchaouen 2030 Vision, which is built around the economic, social, environmental, cultural and human capital of the city. The same year, the blue city was rewarded for its innovative initiatives in climate change adaptation and mitigation, during the Africities 8 Summit in Marrakech, where Mr. Mohamed Sefiani was awarded the Trophy “Climate Initiatives 2018 of African communities” in the category of best medium-sized city. It was also during this same year that he became President of the UCLG-World Forum on Intermediary Cities. Another key position to which the mayor of Chaouen was recently elected within the world organization of local governments, is that of Special Envoy of UCLG-World to the UN for food systems since October 2022.
For an important ecotourism and sustainable development in intermediary cities, “the valorization of local products is a key element,” said Mr. Sefiani in an interview with UCLG Africa. Nestled between two mountains, Chefchaouen is located in a particularly fertile valley, with a green hinterland rich in natural products. The Chaouni art and ancestral culinary know-how reflect the agricultural wealth of the blue city, whose Mediterranean Diet is even listed as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO.
The territorial marketing, the valorization of local resources for the development of the territory and the actions for a transition towards ecotourism led by the Mayor of the blue pearl make Chefchaouen a model of the green economy.
A state engineer in electromechanics from the Rabat School of Mines and holder of a Certificate of Training in Local Governance from the University of Miami, Mr. Mohamed Sefiani is passionate about the role of African cities in driving innovation and action. Often consulted on urban sustainability issues, he is a board member of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCMCE) President of the Moroccan Association of Eco-Cities (GCoM) and Vice-President of the Climate Task Force of UCLG Africa. In addition, he provides high-level leadership and strategic advice as a member of the ICLEI Africa Committee, where he represents the North Africa region.