Fifth Annual Conference on Social Sciences Regionalization, Governance and Development

The fifth annual conference on social sciences in Morocco was held at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane on May 26 and 27, 2018. 98 Moroccan and foreign scholars and doctoral students met to discuss how regionalization policies impact development and democratization. The conference was framed by Morocco’s experience with “advanced regionalization,” enshrined in the 2011 constitution and initiated in 2015 by a major reform of territorial administration.

The keynote address was delivered by Allal Sekrouhi, former Director of Casablanca’s urban planning agency (Agence Urbaine) and Secretary General for local government (Wali-Secrétaire Général des Collectivités Locales) who currently teaches at the National Urban Planning Institute (INAU). Professor Sekrouhi emphasized the fact that advanced regionalization is a process and that Morocco’s territorial identity is in a state of transition. “Regionalization needs time,” according to Sekrouhi. The principles stipulated in the 2011 constitution must be operationalized through organic laws, the Administrative Deconcentration Charter currently being drafted by the government being the latest example. Moreover, implementing advanced regionalization requires partnership and contractualization agreements which have yet to come into effect.

The experimental and transitory nature of the regionalization process was a central theme of the conference. According to the research presented, rather than promoting the participatory democracy proned in the constitution, certain organic laws seem designed to hinder it. Also, partnerships between regional administrations and private-sector firms and civil society organizations tend to restrain rather than to release the innovative economic and social potential of these local partners. As Morocco is still in the early stage of the regionalization process now is a good time to learn from what has already been achieved and to chart new directions for it.