Second Partner Workshop of the Observatory of Mediterranean Wetlands

This workshop was supported financially by the Total Foundation. This workshop was associated with a user meeting (25 March) jointly organized by the European Space Agency and the Tour du Valat for discussing the preparation of GlobWetland II project.

The agenda of the workshop prepared by th Observatory coordination Unit was validated by the participants. The agenda was found to be in line with :
•     the institutional background of the Observatory of Mediterranean Wetlands (presentation by N. Benessaiah, MedWet Coordination)
•     the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the first international workshop conducted in March 2007 (presentation by P. Tomas, Tour du Valat)
•     the follow-up activities carried out between March 2007 and March 2009 to prepare and consolidate the Observatory (presentation by P. Grillas, Tour du Valat) although the the mandate and objectives were reworded.

Before working o­n the building of the Observatory itself, a series of presentations, experiences and cases studies were shared. All presentations and case studies presented o­n Thursday 26 are available o­n a CD provided to each participant at the end of the workshop.

Observatory steps discussed during the workshop

The workshop has reviewed and discussed the different main steps to start the operation of the Observatory as a monitoring and assessment tool. At the end of the workshop, a tentative 3 years work plan has been approved, incorporating suggestions and recommendations from the participants. This work plan will be refined and adjusted by the end of 2009, after the implementation of the needs and expectation assessment planned during the second part of 2009 in all MedWet countries.

It has been approved that the Observatory framework, methods and tools endorsed by the participants for the starting of the operation of the Observatory will be reviewed and validated in 2010.

1. Observatory mandate and objectives

The mandates and objectives of the Observatory have been amended and approved by the participants as follows:


Immediate mandate
•     To catalyze, consolidate, assess and share knowledge o­n the conservation status and trends of Mediterranean wetlands.
•     To raise awareness among users of the Observatory and to help decision-making towards wetland conservation and sustainable management and use.
•     To monitor and assess the status and trends of ecological functions, values and services of Mediterranean wetlands in the context of sustainable development.

When the Observatory has more capacity and experience, the mandate may be extended to :
•     Early warning timely reported to decision makers, in line with international conventions and global changes.
•     Evaluation of impact of public policies and strategies o­n Mediterranean Wetlands.


In line with the MedWet strategic vision, the participants have agreed that the Observatory has three interdependent objectives:
1.     Provide timely and quality information o­n Mediterranean wetlands status and trends.
2.     Track threats to Mediterranean wetlands and identify actions to promote their protection and wise use.
3.     Assess Mediterranean wetlands dimension in the Mediterranean context of sustainable development.

2. Observatory strategy

A strategy for a sustainable Observatory built o­n utility and performance

Based o­n lessons learned and taking into account the evolving context of globalization, harmonization of international conventions and commitment towards sustainable development and environment protection, the strategy of the Observatory of Mediterranean Wetlands process will be built towards utility and performance ensuring its sustainability, the three dimensions being inter-related and mutually reinforcing themselves. The success of the building process and operation should show a comparative advantage and added value recognized by the users including data providers, for the benefit of the wetlands protection, use and management.

3. Targeted users of the Observatory

The potential targeted users of the Observatory have been defined by the participants as follows:

In the evolving conservation and development governance context, it is expected that the main users of the Observatory services and results will be:
•     Governments, local and regional authorities and decentralized government bodies dealing with matters that affect wetland conservation, management and use (environment, water, agriculture, forest, tourism, infrastructure, fishery, etc.);
•     International Conventions, in particular their technical advisory bodies, National Focal Points and Conferences of the Parties. i.e. the Convention o­n Biological Diversity, Ramsar Convention o­n Wetlands, Convention o­n Migratory Species, Convention to Combat Desertification, Convention o­n Climate Change, Barcelona Convention (especially its ICZM protocol);
•     International and regional organizations, in particular the governing bodies and specifically relevant offices of EU Agencies, UNEP, UNDP, World Bank, FAO, UNESCO, WHO, Mediterranean Commission o­n Sustainable Development, Union for the Mediterranean, MedWet and GEF ;
•     Civil society organisations in particular NGOs, associations, projects and other groups involved in wetland protection and management;
•     Wetland site managers;
•     Universities, institutes and research centres active in conservation and development issues;
•     Business and industry, especially natural resources based industries (agriculture, fishing, hydro power, etc.) and financial institutions;
•     Mass media, including press, radio and TV in various regions/countries.

Priority target will then be defined based o­n their specific interest o­n Observatory products, themes and indicators.

4. Geographic scope covered by the Observatory

The geographic scope covered by the Observatory has been discussed and validated by the participants as follows:
o     Overall coverage: countries included in the MedWet initiative

o     Specific coverage depending o­n theme and indicators:
•     Mediterranean watersheds within MedWet countries;
•     administrative units;
•     coastal zones;
•     Mediterranean biogeographical regions.

5. Monitoring and Assessment framework of the Observatory

The proposed monitoring and assessment framework for the Mediterranean Wetlands has been approved. It was agreed that the coordination unit will complete the framework after receiving the remaining participant contribution expected for mid April 2009.

6. Cross-cutting issues

The workshop validated the following major cross-cutting issues that can impact o­n Mediterranean Wetlands and that may be taken into account in interpretation and analysis:
•     Poverty
•     Governance
•     Participation
•     Climate change
•     Gender
•     Mobility/migration
•     Energy
•     Access to innovation
•     Security
•     Partnership
•     Cultural values

7. Development topics

The workshop validated the following development topics that can impact o­n Mediterranean wetlands and that may be taken into account in interpretation and analysis:
•     Food security
•     Urbanization including littoralization
•     Agriculture (crops and livestock)
•     Fisheries and aquaculture
•     Irrigation
•     Domestic and industrial water supply and sanitation
•     Public and private infrastructure
•     Industry sector
•     Tourism
•     Trade
•     Transport

8. Priority themes and sub-themes to be monitored by the Observatory

A list of proposed priority themes was presented by the Coordination Unit based o­n the review of major international and regional conventions, protocols and programmes related or impacting o­n Mediterranean Wetlands. A theme fact-sheet format was presented and approved by the workshop. Participants were organized into three working groups of users (data providers and users at local and national scale, data providers and users at international scale, decision-makers) to review and propose priority themes and sub-themes. Each group then returned its proposal, summarized in the following table:


Observatory objectivesPriority themes validatedPriority sub-themes validated
Objective 1: Mediterranean Wetlands status and trendsBiodiversity componentsGenetic
Species and communities
Habitat/ land cover
Ecosystem integrity and healthWater regime
Chemical states
Spatial structure
Ecosystem processes
Objective 2: threats to MW and actions to promote their wise useLand and water managementPolicies with environmental impact o­n wetlands
Policy implementation
Adaptive managementLegislative and regulatory mechanisms
Knowledge and innovation
Socio-economic Drivers and pressures 
Objective 3: sustainable developmentSustainable developmentIntegration of environment in development process
Ecological servicesProvisionning services
Regulating services
Cultural services
Supporting services

 The first group also prioritized the issues to be followed in priority by the Observatory:
1)     Ecosystem integrity
2)     Ecosystem services
3)     Biodiversity components
4)     Land and water management, adaptive management
5)     Sustainable development

While 7 themes have been identified as the most relevant for monitoring of Mediterranean wetlands, the effective monitoring of theme will depend o­n the availability of data and indicators at the Mediterranean level to measure them. Some monitoring of theme or sub-themes may be postponed until enough indicators are developed.

9. Priority indicators to be used for monitoring and assessments of wetlands

A list of about 40 indicators selected after a review of 537 existing indicators was prepared by the Coordination Unit as well as an indicator fact-sheet format. The format was approved by the workshop. As for the themes, the participants were organized into working groups to review and prioritize the indicators of each theme for monitoring and assessment of Mediterranean wetlands. However, time did not allow the full discussion and selection of priority set of indicators.

It was agreed to allow more time for each working group of participants to work o­n indicators after the workshop. Following the reception of the workshop minutes (to be sent by the Coordination Unit of the Observatory by April, 3), the representative of each working group will send the group proposal by 15 April to the Coordination Unit. The proposal will be then synthesized by the Coordination Unit and communicated to participants.

For this additional duty, the preliminary work done by each group and returned during the workshop is available in Annex 5. The full list of selected indicators is in the document provided to the participants during the workshop.

10. Structure of the Observatory

The structure of the Observatory wich was already discussed and agreed in March 2007, has been confirmed as follows :
•     Executive structure
–     Partner Organisations
–     Focal Point in each partner organisation
–     Coordination Unit

•     Steering structures
–     Consortium
–     Steering Committee
–     Advisory Group

It was agreed that each participant, and other partners who could not attend the meeting, will inform the Coordination Unit at what level of the structure their respective institution would like to participate. A table is provides in Annex 6. The structure will be formalized by MedWet through a MoU that will be drafted by the Coordination Unit.

11. Modalities and conditions of partnership and observatory network

Concerning modalities of data sharing, the need to establish a platform to manage data and to facilitate the coordination of partners of the Observatory has been mentioned. Other questions regarding the responsibility of management and control data quality have been raised. In the meantime, in order to quickly start the operation of the Observatory, it has been decided that data available in the public sphere will be used at the beginning. Each partner will inform the Coordination Unit o­n their respective network where data can be found.

Access to unpublished data including private data is an issue that will be discussed in the process of developing the monitoring system of the Observatory. A specific MoU may be prepared between the Observatory and the data providers. In the meantime, preliminary may be provided by the potential partner as per the table presented in Annex 6.

12. Current and required resources

The coordination unit of the Observatory is currently functioning with an equivalent of 2 full time positions secured for the period 2009-2011 under the MAVA Foundation. Based o­n the preliminary Observatory work calendar 2009-2012, the Coordination Unit estimate that a minimum of two additional full time positions are needed to deliver a minimum set of products by 2011, especially o­n communication, networking and electronic data research.

There are several options to carry out these activities, among them:
•     Get additional fund starting mid-2009 to deliver the first report by 2010;
•     Reduce the scope of work – streamlining priorities;
•     Active implication of partners to take in charge some actions

The Coordination Unit has already prepared and submitted some projects but responses are expected between May and July 2009.

In the meantime, it was suggested by the participants to adjust the work to the resources with the objective of producing the first report by end of 2010 and to continue seeking additional funds. The need to quickly establish the MoU was o­nce again reminded as well as to define the commitments of partner within the Observatory structure and for technical activities. The challenge is to quickly start the monitoring and to produce a first monitoring report by end of 2010, before the Grado + 20 Conference.

13. Validation of the preliminary Observatory 2009-2011 work programme

A tentative 2009-2011 work plan has been amended and validated in the course of the workshop. Activities included in the calendar are to be considered as a tentative checklist of logical activities to institutionally start and operate the Observatory. A consolidated 2010-2012 work plan and a annual 2010 detailed work plan will be drafted by the end of 2009 for review by the partners.