30 years of MedWet – Testimony of Jean Jalbert, Director of Tour du Valat


The 30th anniversary of MedWet is an opportunity to look back on three decades of an exceptional adventure, institutional, environmental and above all human. An adventure in which I’ve had the opportunity to take part since 1994, when it was in its first developments. As I look back on these years, my thoughts naturally turn to two people whose commitment, perseverance, humanism and vision have inspired me throughout my professional and personal life. My two mentors: Luc Hoffmann and Thymio Papayannis.


Thymio Papayannis and Luc Hoffmann. Photo: ©J. Jalbert – Tour du Valat


Two people that nothing predestined to work together, and yet they did: Luc Hoffmann, scientist and visionary patron of the arts, founder – among others – of the Tour du Valat, the WWF, and the Ramsar Convention, and Thymio Papayannis, architect and urban planner, committed to the environment from an early age, proponent of the preservation of the Prespa lakes on the borders of Greece, Albania, and North Macedonia, and – among others – “father” of MedWet and Coordinator of this Initiative during its first decade.

Two very endearing personalities, committed, open to others, driven by an ideal and with their feet firmly rooted in wetlands. Two men who knew how to transform utopias into reality and who worked unstintingly for the common good without counting the cost.

MedWet has been the crucible of their collaboration and friendship. From the ideas exchanged during meetings, a concept took shape in 1991 on the shores of the Adriatic, in Grado (Italy). And from its inception, MedWet has been very innovative – and still is today – as a mechanism for collaboration between governmental and non-governmental entities, based on mutual respect and trust, on the scale of a coherent geographical entity with a common destiny: the Mediterranean basin. Recognized as a model of regional cooperation under the Ramsar Convention, MedWet has led the way and inspired many other regions of the world.

In its 30 years of existence, MedWet has experienced successes and crises, and has demonstrated its great capacity for adaptation and resilience. Today, faced with a systemic crisis whose various facets – climatic, environmental, economic, and health – appear each year more clearly linked, MedWet has the assets in hand to further engage public and private actors and demonstrate on the ground that wetlands are very effective and inexpensive responses to many of the major challenges of tomorrow. Climate, water supply, food security, health, natural hazards . . . well managed and restored wetlands are first class “Nature-based Solutions” to these societal challenges.

It is up to us to demonstrate this, to widen the circle of the already convinced, and to continue the path traced by Luc Hoffmann and Thymio Papayannis.

A great project for the next 30 years!


More testimonials  

Read what they said about the 30th Anniversary of MedWet HERE.