In the framework of the formulation of the Mediterranean Youth Parliament for Wetlands project, a consultation meeting was held on 6 October 2016 in the Directorate General of Forests (DGF) of Tunisia, chaired by Ms Hela Salman-Guidara, DGF, and facilitated by Nejib Benessaiah, representing MedWet. The meeting aimed to discuss the practical modalities of the project’s implementation in this country.
The partner organizations with a regional character and based in Tunis, like l’Association des Amis des Oiseaux (AAO), World Wide Fund for Nature- Tunisia office, and Association des Amis du Belvédère (AAB), actively participated.
Consultation meeting in DGF Tunisia. © A. Smari
To strengthen its mission to ensure and support the effective conservation of the functions and values of Mediterranean wetlands and the sustainable use of their resources and services, MedWet wishes to invest in youth, who represent the future of the region.
The MedWet countries cannot afford to postpone investing in their most promising and innovative of assets: the high numbers of young people that populate the majority of Mediterranean countries today. Investing in young people makes sense from a number of perspectives. It also means that we must reflect on the role that young people play in the conservation of natural ecosystems. We must raise awareness, mobilize and involve them in major environmental issues.
To accomplish its mission, MedWet creates synergies with a wide range of intergovernmental and non-governmental partners. It is precisely in this institutional, social and environmental context that characterizes the project of the Mediterranean Youth Parliament for Wetlands, which is intended to help teachers and students to integrate the conservation and wise use of wetlands into school life and in the community’s activities as part of integrated water resources management in the Mediterranean.
Strategies and objectives
The creation of a Mediterranean Youth Parliament for Wetlands will be in perfect harmony with the MedWet Framework for Action 2016-2030 “Wetlands for sustainable development in the Mediterranean”, adopted by the 12th Meeting of the MedWet/Com, held in Paris, France, 7-11 February 2016.
To achieve its basic goal, the project will pursue two specific interconnected objectives: a) to involve and train young students in Mediterranean schools in the conservation of wetlands, and b) to involve them in the strengthening of decentralized cooperation in the Mediterranean through intercultural exchanges and technology transfer among students, NGOs and parliamentarians from the same country and between different countries in the region.
In a first stage the project will begin in a few countries, and will be expanded over time to the 27 countries involved in the MedWet Initiative.
Success in this project, as in all other projects that aim to further the conservation and sustainable use of water-related ecosystems in the Mediterranean basin, is only possible through networking, joint actions, knowledge sharing, capacity building, coordination and regional cooperation.
Several organizations will be invited to be part of the initial partnership of the project, such as the IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation (IUCN Med); the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA), Morocco; the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF, Tunis Office); the Association Les Amis des Oiseaux (AAO), Tunisia; the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN), Jordan; the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL); and the Corsican Partners Consortium (Direction Régional de l’Environnement, de l’Aménagement et du Logement (DREAL); Office de l’Environnement de la Corse; Agence de l’Eau; and CAU-Bastia).
At the local level, three school classes selected in each participating country, assisted by a local NGO, will work around a theme selected by the Project Steering Committee. This endeavor will be shared through a digital platform created for this purpose by the project in order to boost exchanges.
An Animator-Moderator, hired by the project to facilitate preparation and development activities for the Parliament, will ensure that NGOs and representatives of the educational system work together and maintain contact with the MedWet Focal Point and the parliamentarian who sponsors the participating school classes.
Only three students from these three classes in the participating countries will be selected to participate in the first Mediterranean Youth Parliament for Wetlands in 2019. They will be accompanied by a Parliamentarian from each participating country interested in environmental issues.
This combination should create a synergy between students and elected parliamentarians and also between parliamentarians from each country to encourage the development of a coherent common policy for wetland management.
The initial project duration will be 36 months. During the first phase in 2017 the project should begin with six countries: three French speaking countries (France, Morocco and Tunisia) and three countries where English is the main foreign language (Albania, Greece and Jordan).
During the second phase in 2018, six additional countries should be involved (to be chosen later).