The MedWet Steering Group, elected by the Mediterranean Wetlands Committee (MedWet/Com) at its meeting in Paris last February, met in Marseille, France, on 18-19 May 2016. All members were in attendance except Turkey (alternate for Europe), Lebanon (due to a delay in the granting of the required visa for the delegate), and WWF International (alternate). The elected Chair of the Steering Group , Dr Gordana Beltram from Slovenia, presided over the session. The meeting also served as the annual General Assembly of the Association Secretariat MedWet, the legal entity for the MedWet operation in France.
The agenda and working documents (in English) are available here. The report an conclusions of the meeting are available in English and French.
Summary of decisions
(Please refer to the full minutes of the meeting available here.)
- The meeting received with satisfaction the information indicating that Andorra is considering joining the MedWet/Com as the 27th Party to the Ramsar Convention to become a member of the Mediterranean Wetlands Initiative.
- Following a recent visit of the MedWet Coordinator to the European Commission with a view to establishing active working relations with the EC, the meeting decided that high priority should be given by the Secretariat and the Steering Group to this endeavour, in an effort to create synergies not only with the General Directorate of Environment but also with other EC GDs that are relevant to the MedWet mission. The possibility of a one-day seminar on “Working relations between the EC and MedWet” could be considered, involving all the MedWet Focal Points that might be willing to assist in this endeavour, not only from the EU Member States but also from other MedWet countries with experience in working with the EC. In developing these working relations with the EC, MedWet should be promoted not only in relation to its specific mission but also as a mechanism to advance Mediterranean cooperation and friendship.
- The involvement of MedWet as a partner in a number of projects submitted to the EU Interreg Med funding mechanism was noted with satisfaction. The Coordinator was encouraged to redouble the efforts to create synergies with as many other partners as possible, so that MedWet will be further perceived as a useful instrument for Mediterranean cooperation.
- In adopting the report of the Coordinator, it was noted that progress has been made in re-launching MedWet as an active instrument to advance the implementation of the Ramsar Convention in the Mediterranean region. The challenge is now to generate projects on the ground to implement the MedWet Framework for Action adopted by MedWet/Com12 and to secure the core funding for the continued functioning of the MedWet Secretariat.
- The Association Secretariat MedWet should amend its Statutes in order to clarify its relationships with the MedWet/Com and its true function and nature. A proposal should be circulated to the Steering Group as soon as possible for a decision at the next meeting. Consideration should be given to including a reference to the Resolutions of the Ramsar COP in San Jose (1999) and Valencia (2002) that are related to MedWet.
- The Secretariat should explore the possibilities of establishing other modalities of ensuring financial viability, such as a MedWet Trust Fund.
- The Steering Group considered that it would be highly beneficial to explore with France the possibility of developing a “host country agreement” with MedWet, with different scenarios concerning its content. This agreement should include, as a minimum:
- facilities to expedite the delivery of visas to persons invited to attend MedWet meetings held in France; and
- facilities to obtain work and resident permits for staff recruited by the MedWet Secretariat from non-EU countries.
- The work plan of the Secretariat for 2016-2017 was adopted with the request to prepare a document showing how the foreseen activities are related to the proposed actions included in the MedWet Framework for Action.
- Special attention was paid to the work plan related to communications. The Secretariat should embark upon preparing projects related to its core functions of networking and communication, including preparation of a LIFE project for submission in 2017 using as the basis the MedWet Communications Plan submitted to this meeting.
- The draft project concept entitled The Mediterranean Youth Parliament for Wetlands (MedWet/Youth) was endorsed for further development.
- It was noted that the Secretariat intends to develop as soon as possible the Network of Mediterranean Ramsar Sites Managers.
- The Secretariat should also make efforts, with the assistance of the Steering Group, to identify other funding sources, both for the core budget and as a source of overheads obtained from projects directly related to the implementation of the Framework for Action, with careful consideration of the implications that this second option may have. The Secretariat will keep the Steering Group informed of the results of the report that should be prepared by a consultant on funding opportunities open to MedWet.
- It was noted that the agenda for the Ramsar Workshop on Regional Initiatives to be held in Gland, Switzerland, on 12 June 2016 includes the question of the legal status of the Ramsar RIs. The Steering Group will be informed of the results of this workshop and of the decisions that the Ramsar Standing Committee might take on this issue for further action, if so required.
- The Steering Group approved the Terms of Reference for the five Specialist Groups of the MedWet Scientific and Technical Network (MedWet STN): biodiversity, water, ecosystem services, climate change, and wetland inventory. The Steering Group took note that the recruitment of the manager of the MedWet/STN (half time) will be launched soon.
- The following schedule of meetings was adopted:
- The 17th Meeting of the Steering Group (teleconference) in September 2016;
- The 18th Meeting of the Steering Group (physical) in January or February 2017, tentatively in Malaga, Spain, hosted by IUCN-Med;
- The 19th Meeting of the Steering Group (teleconference or physical, as needed) in June 2017; and
- The 13th Meeting of the MedWet/Com in the fourth quarter of 2017.
It was decided that all MedWet countries should be invited to signify their interest in hosting the next physical meetings of the Steering Group and the MedWet/Com 13.
- In relation to the format and agenda of MedWet/Com 13, the following recommendations were noted:
- the duration of the meeting should be kept to a maximum of four days (including the field visit);
- the field visit should have the character of a “demonstration project”, and it may be advisable to have it scheduled at the start of the meeting;
- the system of working groups to discuss major issues in the agenda should be kept;
- the possibility of having a keynote speaker addressing an emerging issue of great significance should be considered;
- influencing the Ramsar COP13 agenda should be considered as an important component of the agenda;
- urban wetlands and Ramsar city accreditation may be important issues to be addressed;
- progress with the implementation of the MedWet Framework for Action should be another important question, including the possibility of holding side events demonstrating the progress achieved; and
- involving high level officials (as at the MedWet/Com12), making the meeting attractive to them, should constitute an important consideration.
- The wording of the “MedWet fundamentals” adopted at the MedWet/Com 12 as part of the MedWet Communications Strategy should be revisited as they may contain some degree of contradiction with the MedWet Terms of Reference.
The Members of the Steering Group are:
Africa: Algeria and Morocco (alternate);
Europe: Slovenia (Chair) and Turkey (alternate);
Asia: Lebanon and Jordan (alternate);
France (as host country of the MedWet Secretariat);
the Ramsar Convention Secretariat;
the International Union for Conservation of Nature (Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation); WWF International (alternate);
the Tour du Valat Research Institute for the Conservation of Mediterranean Wetlands;
and MedWet/Com Honorary Member, Mr. Thymio Papayannis.