30 Nov 2016

The future of conservation in the Mediterranean

How best to invest in nature conservation in the Mediterranean? Conservationists come to joint answer as CEPF biodiversity evaluation and strategy reaches final stages.

Conservationists passionate about protecting the Mediterrean's diverse wildlife at the CEPF Mediterranean Ecosystem Profile Meeting in Tangier, Morocco © Shaun Hurrell / CEPF Med
By Liz Smith

What are the most important places for nature in the Mediterranean? What are the biggest threats now, and into the future? What are the socio-economic trends in the Mediterranean? What lessons have we learned from the previous five years of conservation in the region? How is civil society growing, and how it can be better helped?

Passionate about protecting the Mediterranean’s diverse wildlife, nature conservationists from the Balkans, North Africa and the Middle East have come together to a stormy Tangier, Morocco to evaluate how and where best for the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) to continue to invest in nature conservation and building civil society in the Mediterranean Basin Biodiversity Hotspot.

Over the past 5 months biodiversity conservation in Mediterranean has been under the spotlight thanks to the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF).

An extensive update of all taxonomic species data, revised boundaries for Key Biodiversity Areas, analysis of civil society involvement in conservation and socio-economic factors have all been thoroughly revised for the region.

This widely participatory process has been underway so that the Mediterranean Basin Ecosystem Profile could be updated and a revised investment strategy for CEPF funding can be established.

Across the Mediterranean hundreds of people have been taking part in the Ecosystem Profile update through a series of 13 national workshops and a public microsite. Stakeholders from NGOs, academia, governments and private sector have all been contributing to the process.

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Defining the areas and boundaries of the most important places for nature, at the meeting in Tangier, Morocco © Shaun Hurrell / CEPF Med

To corroborate and discuss the data gathered, a Regional Validation Meeting for the Ecosystem Profile Update and Final Assessment of the First Phase of CEPF Investment was held in Tangier Morocco, on Friday 25th and Saturday 26th November 2016.

Prior to this meeting the Hotspot Advisory Committee met to evaluate in detail the progress of the existing 5-year investment phase against the original CEPF investment strategy. Lessons learned from the Regional Implementation Team (RIT) were shared and discussed with the committee members, highlighting areas of success alongside the challenges and obstacles. A key area of discussion was the capacity of civil society organisations (CSOs) and the realistic opportunities for them to contribute and lead conservation actions. With additional ideas and suggestions from the committee incorporated, the resulting recommendations for future investment priorities as well as changes to the grant-making process were presented to the Regional Validation Meeting participants for input.

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Over 50 people from across the Mediterranean were invited to participate in the Regional Validation Meeting; national and regional experts who contributed to the Ecosystem Profile update process and advised CEPF during the first phase of CEPF investment. The Ecosystem Profile Update Team presented the data which had been gathered through the consultation period and the analysis which had been made. The role of civil society in conservation was a main topic of discussion, as well as key threats to threatened species, the classification of Key Biodiversity Areas and the alignment of CEPF with other initiatives in the region.

Creating strategic directions for the next 5 years was one of the aims of the meeting © Shaun Hurrell / CEPF Med

The main outcome of the meeting was a collection of proposed strategic directions for the whole Mediterranean Basin Hotspot. Strategic directions are key themes where CEPF will direct it’s funding in the next phase. These were created through group discussions and analysing the data which had been gathered on the national and regional level. Each strategic direction will have its own investment priorities which will guide CSOs to create and implement their projects with the most effective and sustainable outcomes. 

After a review stage it is expected that the new Ecosystem Profile will be publicly available in early 2017, with the new CEPF investment phase starting in mid-2017 for another 5 years.

The Ecosystem Profile Update Team would like to thank all the organisations and individuals who contributed and helped support the consultation process. It has been a massive undertaking over a short time, with many dedicated people committed to this important process.  

With this continued commitment from CEPF and their growing network of partners in the region, biodiversity conservation in the Mediterranean has been given renewed hope. 

The Ecosystem Profile update process is being led by BirdLife International and a consortium of partners: IUCN, Tour du Valat, Conservatoire du Littoral, and three BirdLife Partners from Mediterranean-based organisations  -  Sociedad Española de Ornitología (SEO, BirdLife Spain), Društvo za opazovanje in proučevanje ptic slovenije (DOPPS, BirdLife Slovenia) and Association Les Amis des Oiseaux (AAO, BirdLife Tunisia). 

The update has been made possible through the support of the MAVA Foundation, Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and CEPF.