From the 14th to the 17th of June, more than 120 scientists, managers of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), decision-makers and conservation practitioners from 18 Mediterranean countries came together in Spain to share the results of two European Interreg Med projects: MPA Engage and MPA Networks. The joint event featured the key results and policy recommendations of the two projects related to MPAs management effectiveness, small-scale fisheries management, conservation of mobile species, sustainable financing, and adaptation to climate change.
MIO-ECSDE, a leading partner of the MPA Engage project, actively participated in the intense, yet rewarding, event which included field visits to 3 MPAs, more than 30 presentations and 7 roundtables, technical and high-level policy sections, during which participants had the opportunity to share knowledge and experiences for enhanced decision-making for the benefit of the entire conservation community of Mediterranean MPAs. The hybrid event was held in three locations in Spain: Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona, and Roses.
The 3rd roundtable of the event, moderated by Thomais Vlachogianni, Senior Programme/Policy Officer of MIO-ECSDE, shared insights on the fundamentals of designing climate change adaptation strategies for MPAs. Ms. Vlachogianni, who coordinated the elaboration of climate change adaptation plans in 7 Mediterranean MPAs, presented the achievements and lessons learned from MPA Engage and stressed that “there is an imperative need to fast-track climate change-related actions for effective management and enhanced resilience in a changing ocean; well-articulated participatory processes, community-based initiatives and ocean literacy for all are some of the main elements towards successful adaptation approaches”. The roundtable presentations and the discussions that followed succeeded to bring together the many different pieces of the puzzle as depicted in the illustration below (made by Imagistan).
One of the highlights of the event was the premiere of the MPA Engage documentary. In 18 minutes, the MPA-Engage team explains the dramatic changes that are taking place in the Mediterranean due to climate change.
The elaboration of effective science-based climate change adaptation plans tailor-made to the specificities of Mediterranean MPAs was one of the key recommendations of the policy event of the conference held in Barcelona. Education, the role of Parliaments, and regional cooperation were some of the main take-home messages as explained by Prof. Moh Rejdali, Chairman of COMPSUD who participated in the discussions.
Overall, the event was considered an unprecedented opportunity for dialogue and mutual enrichment of knowledge, that will eventually lead to the identification of priority policy recommendations and good practices to be discussed at different levels, from local, to national and regional, strengthening and hopefully extending the network of Mediterranean MPAs and resilience of marine and coastal ecosystems. As highlighted by Marie Romani, Coordinator of the MPA Networks project and Executive secretary of MedPAN, the synergies between the MPA Networks and MPA Engage projects further underline the urgency to strengthen the role of MPAs in the face of the biodiversity and climate crises: “Together we are stronger. The mobilization of all relevant actors is necessary to meet the challenges of marine protected areas in the Mediterranean. The MPA Networks and MPA Engage projects have been key in capitalizing on and initiating new actions in this direction.”
Just before the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Blue Finance conference “Investing in a Sustainable Blue Economy in the Mediterranean” and the 2022 UN Ocean Conference, the joint event was a very timely happening.
Check the programme of the final event here
Read in French here