MedWet participation on shared European waters and strategic plan for the Med


Recent news from MedWet - two meetings in Athens

On 6 and 7 May 2003, the MedWet Coordinator, Spyros Kouvelis, participated in two meetings in Athens that will be of interest to the Ramsar community. The first was a high-level conference organized by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs (as President of the EU) and the World Bank, on shared waters and peace in Southeastern Europe. It was attended by many high level persons, including the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. MedWet was invited to speak on the Neretva River, and Spyros gave a presentation in one of the three workshops, which was very well received. In addition, a presentation was given on the Prespa Park by its secretariat (Vivi Roumeliotou), so the initiatives of the Ramsar Convention were well represented in the conference. The meeting was also attended by Thymio Papayannis (Senior MedWetAdvisor) and Angela Kyriazis (Programme Development).

Spyros and Thymio were also able to meet with the Assistant Minister of Environment of Croatia about progress of the Neretva Delta management in collaboration with Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the framework of the project funded by Monaco, which is a follow-up to the Ramsar SGF project there. Spyros and Angela also had a meeting with representatives of the SGF project on the progress of the Prespa Park funding, the possible collaboration and funding by GEF for the Neretva Delta and Hutovo Blato, and the further activities for Mediterranean wetlands, specifically on biodiversity conservation (implementation of the SAP-BIO - see below) and agriculture.

The second meeting took place the next day, and Spyros participated in the final meeting of the SAP-BIO Advisory Committee, organized in Athens by the Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas (RAC/SPA) of the UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP). MedWet is a member of the Committee, and the MedWet Coordinator was asked to chair the meeting. The participants revised the final document of this Strategic Action Plan, which is a rather ambitious plan to conserve marine and coastal biodiversity in the Med, including coastal wetlands. However, it is important to be closely linked and supportive to the process because:

- MedWet is the only partner related to the wetlands work in it, and most probably will be the sole central actor for its implementation;
- the SAP-Bio is expected to be a "road map" for policy decisions and funding priorities for the next 10 or more years in the region as regards biodiversity conservation; and
- donors, including GEF, have already expressed their interest in supporting its implementation, on the basis of selected priorities (as the full cost is rather unrealistic)

The SAP, as approved and with the changes proposed by the Advisory Committee, will be presented during the next two days to the National Correspondents (19 Med countries) and ultimately approved by the COP of the Barcelona Convention in November or December 2003.

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