In 2004, during the sixth meeting of the MedWet Committee (Tipaza, Algeria), the idea of setting up a Mediterranean wetlands observatory was submitted. The objective consisted of ensuring and harmonizing the monitoring of the status and trends of wetlands in the MedWet member countries, in order to share knowledge and help make decisions to improve the conservation and management of wetlands in the Mediterranean Basin.
A preparatory phase during 2007-2008 included an international workshop and preliminary studies on indicators. The MedWet/Com 9 meeting (Changwon, Rep. of Korea) adopted the proposal to support the Observatory calling for a large participation, and gave to Tour du Valat the mandate to initiate and run it,
Between 2009 and 2010, the Coordination Unit set about establishing this regional observatory through a participatory process. Two new international workshops were set up to decide upon the logistical framework for monitoring and assessment as well as for the governance, partnership framework, and launch of the observatory’s priority activities. During these stages, communication activities were launched (website, e-mail, posters, etc.), a communication strategy was prepared, and 34 partnerships were formed or developed. In order to constitute a baseline status, in 2009 a study was carried out of the status and requirements of 16 countries regarding the monitoring and assessment of wetlands.
In 2010-11, MWO focused mainly on producing the first reports on Mediterranean wetlands, including a technical report and a more strategic report aimed at decision-makers. In 2012, these reports were also used to produce films, posters and PowerPoint presentations, and the first thematic dossier on the biodiversity of Mediterranean wetlands was published. These results were all widely disseminated through the website and at both regional and international events, such as the Agadir Symposium in February 2012, the World Water Forum in Marseille in March 2012, and the Ramsar COP11 in Bucharest in July 2012.
In parallel with these activities, work was carried out to look for, set up and manage projects, with particular commitment to the following: the GlobWetlands II Project (using satellite-based Earth observation data to monitor Mediterranean wetlands), the RhoMeO Project (idem, in France), and the Hula-Camargue Project (the comparative analysis of the ecosystem services in two sites).