Mediterranean Water Means Wetlands


Twenty years after the signing in Ramsar city of the first modern global environmental treaty, about 300 concerned individuals gathered at the northern end of the Adriatic Sea, in the Italian town of Grado, in February 1991 and agreed on a strategy for joint actions for Mediterranean wetlands. Their call resulted in the creation of the Mediterranean Wetlands Initiative (MedWet), which received exceptional start-up funding from the European Commission and was soon to become the first regional initiative recognised by the Ramsar Convention.

Meeting of the organising committee. Left-right: Thymio Papayannis, chair of the organising committee, Ms Hayat Mesbah from the Administrative Authority in Morocco, and a Moroccan colleague.

Twenty years later in 2011, year of the Ramsar Convention’s 40th anniversary, the MedWet Initiative is ambitiously looking at the future and is preparing a major symposium to take stock of the changes that have shaped the Mediterranean region since 1991, to promote the understanding about ecosystem services provided by the remaining wetlands to Mediterranean societies, and to identify sustainable development paths taking the water-related ecosystem services into account. This will be done through an intersectoral symposium to be held in the city of Agadir, on 6-8 February 2012, at the invitation of the Moroccan High Commission for Waters & Forests and to Fight Desertification. It is hoped that the UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan (implementing the Barcelona Convention), UNESCO, FAO, the Blue Plan, IUCN, WWF, Wetlands International and other organisations will actively contribute to the wide-reaching programme.

A small committee of international and Moroccan organisations recently met in Agadir on 15-16 June 2011 to prepare concrete steps for this major regional symposium that will take place around World Wetlands Day 2012.

Report by Tobias Salathé, Senior Officer for Europe

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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
International Importance
2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,247

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