A Regional Workshop for Members of Parliaments, Media and Stakeholders on Climate Change Adaptation in the Mediterranean Coastal Area was held in Athens on 5-6 November, organized, back-to-back with the Final Conference of the GEF MAP/UNEP MedPartnership Programme (which included a very lively celebration of the 40 years of UNEP MAP), by the Mediterranean Information Office for Environment, Culture and Sustainable Development (MIO-ECSDE).
The MedWet Senior Advisor joined the North African members of the Circle of Mediterranean Parliamentarians for Sustainable Development (COMPSUD) in the Round Table on ‘The Challenge of Adapting to Climate Change and COP 21’, co-organised with the Institute Français de Grèce and the Committee for the Study of Climate Change Impacts of the Bank of Greece, with the presence of the Greek Alternate Minister of Environment and Energy.
During the two days meeting, the MedWet Senior Advisor took the opportunity to inform the COMPSUD delegations from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia about the mission, projects and activities of MedWet. It was important to underline the importance for MedWet of partnerships and dialogue among the various stakeholders and decision makers, including Parliamentarians and politicians at large to better understand the connections with issues related to wetland conservation and wise use of their resources and services.
See more information on the Circle of Mediterranean Parliamentarians for Sustainable Development (COMPSUD) in the GWP-Med web page
Apart from the informal discussions with Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian Members of Parliaments and Journalists, MedWet took active part of the session of day two: “Investing in the future: the role of Education” that also functioned as input to the Action Plan for the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development currently under development.
From the several interventions from the Parliamentarians and Journalists, it was concluded that we still don’t have tangible sustainable development strategies in all the Mediterranean countries as most of the initiatives are on environmental education in general. As stated by the Chair of MIO-ECSDE, the problem is how to bring the message that caring for the environment is necessary for the economy and the wellbeing of society, and also about how well functioning economies and societies are a prerequisite for the protection of the environment.
The current Chair of COMPSUD noted that a platform for communication between the three spheres of science, policy-making and law making is very important and useful. One Parliamentarian from Morocco noticed that the South and East of the Mediterranean do not receive enough technical assistance to allow politicians to be informed and undertake their duties of proposing and drafting sound environmental laws. It will be important to transfer the experience of the North shore of the Mediterranean to enhance the capacity of the parliamentarians in the South and East of the Mediterranean.
MIO-ECSDE strongly agreed with the proposal to exchange of know-how between Southern and Northern parliamentarians, informing that MIO webpage is providing the connection to two sources: 1) the European Environment Agency that produces more than 20 technical documents per year on water, green economy, pollution, etc. (which can be filtered to be useful and important for the parliamentarians); and 2) the link with relevant results and EU Directives emanating from the European Commission and the Council of Europe. This can be complimented with other information and guidance from other bodies in the Mediterranean.
A Tunisian journalist proposed to create a sort of Observatory or advisory commission that enhance the parliamentarians’ capacities in advocacy, raising finance, technical information, and data interpretation and collection. The Chair of MIO replied that international institutions and donors are very reluctant to support any kind of initiatives that sounds as a new institution.
After recalling the mission of MedWet and the definition of wetlands and their importance for mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, mainly through their role in carbon sequestration, the MedWet Senior Advisor informed the participants about the innovative structure of the organisation that puts together all the governments of the Mediterranean but also international NGOs and inter-governmental institutions working on the conservation of aquatic ecosystems and the sustainable use of their resources. While sharing MIO analysis to avoid establishing new institutions to fill the gap of information transfer from scientists and site managers to the decision makers, we should rely on existing institutions like WWF, Plan Bleu, IUCN to feed the parliamentarians of the COMPSUD network with scientific and technical information related to sustainable development and to the conservation of aquatic ecosystems. The MedWet Senior Advisor also mentioned the possibility to use the Mediterranean Wetlands Observatory, which is cooperating with governments, NGOs and universities from the North and the South of the Mediterranean, to provide the COMPSUD Network with relevant technical and scientifically information. This will be helpful to assist the parliamentarians in the decision making process and also to have their feedback and associate them to support MedWet in the achievement of its mission.
At the end of the session several parliamentarians from Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco contacted the Senior Adviser in order to request some technical brochures and scientific publications for a better knowledge of the wetlands problematic.
Nejib Benessaiah email@example.com
photo credit N. Benessaiah