International Workshop in Kuwait: Towards an Implementation Strategy for the “Hima” Governance System Summary

During the field visitThe International workshop “Towards an Implementation Strategy for the “Hima” Governance System: Theories, Concepts, Methodologies, Case Studies and Action Plans” took place in Kuwait from the 3rd – 5th December 2012.  It was organised by the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research in partnership with the United Nations University, the West Asia and North Africa Forum and Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability and was attended by more than 150 participants. MedWet was invited among 20 other international speakers to communicate on the possible implementation of the HIMA process in the MedWet South Mediterranean countries.

MedWet was introduced to the concept and process of Hima through the Society of Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL). We were impressed since the beginning by this innovative participatory approach aiming to the conservation of natural resources and especially of the small coastal wetlands in Lebanon. The adaptation of the traditional Hima process applied by SPNL, proved to be efficient mainly by reinforcing the acceptance of local communities to the ideas and goals of nature conservation.

Ebel es-Saqi Hima, LebanonThe concept of Hima is a common cultural heritage of all Arabs and by extension familiar to other Muslim populations. From Morocco to Turkey, for the ten of the twenty seven countries members of the Mediterranean Wetlands Initiative (MedWet) Hima seems to be more anchored in their cosmogony than the simple concept of protected areas or Mahmiyat. It was thus important to explain the background of MedWet and its mission, in order to better analyse the possible implementation at the regional level of North Africa and the Middle East and further at the global level. It was also underlined how the Hima process can play a role in the Strategic Vision of MedWet, mainly by promoting participatory processes (involving local stakeholders) as a major component of the sustainable use of wetlands. The MedWet Coordinator also made the link with the cultural aspects of wetland conservation and the promotion of the Hima as community based management approach to be integrated in the Ramsar/MedWet Culture Network Objectives.

Finally the MedWet presentation underlined the Hima process as a cultural tool for dialogue among wetland users in Islamic countries, who are likely to be positively predisposed to accept and respect water and wetland conservation systems based on Islamic teachings. In order to achieve these links between natural resources management and religious conviction it seems for us important to understand the Hima as preservation of spiritual traditions related to wetlands, and to promote the protection of wetlands through culture and spirituality.