The development and enhancement of MPAs is viewed as a priority by national governments in North African and East Mediterranean countries. In order to support a strong regional network of MPAs, a national infrastructure for biodiversity conservation is critical.

Capacity development and institutional support by IUCN is designed to support the core functioning of environmental institutions in order to establish and properly manage a national network of protected areas in North African countries. As a result of this collaboration, governments are better equipped to fulfil international commitments related to biodiversity protection.

In particular, IUCN-Med focuses on:

  • Increasing participation of North African countries in Mediterranean networks and sharing information amongst countries;
  • Providing appropriate technical, financial and physical resources to bolster institutions and stakeholders;
  • Developing local agencies as properly resourced institutions, with staff, funds and policy;
  • Supporting capacity building and training activities for staff in environmental management, fund raising, and governance;
  • Improving the collaboration between local stakeholders and government.

IUCN-Med is involved in the following initiatives and projects aimed at strengthening networks of national protected areas:

Egypt, Lebanon and Libya

In order to build management capacity, IUCN facilitated the participation of MPA managers, project managers, and stakeholders from Egypt, Lebanon and Libya in the activities of MedPAN – the Network of Managers of MPAs in the Mediterranean, with the support of the Italian Ministry of Environment. One of the key activities implemented within the MedPAN project is the organization of thematic workshops that aim at enabling the exchange of experiences and best practices among MPA managers and project managers in the Mediterranean.

Capacity building and institutional support to the Nature Conservation Sector of the Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs, and the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency.

This project has been designed to support the core functioning of the Egyptian Nature Conservation Sector (NCS), for the “the establishment and proper management of the national network of protected areas” by providing human, financial and physical resources.

The project, funded by the Italian Cooperation, is helping to formulate an appropriate organisational structure in the NCS by:

  • Creating specific Technical Units for: Planning, Environmental Impact Assessment and Licensing, Biodiversity Evaluation, and Outreach and Marketing.
  • Strengthening NCS staff to evaluate and monitor economic activities inside the Protected Areas;
  • Increasing the decentralization of decision-making to centres for the management and system planning of protected areas and developing their institutional capacity within the NCS.
  • Developing legal and administrative arrangements to secure fund-raising activities to support individual PA management and achieve financial independence for the NCS.
  • Developing a management plan for National Parks.

For more information, see the institutional strengthening initiative of the Protected Areas Programme.

The marine and coastal environment of Libya is one of the last remaining areas of unaffected biodiversity in the Mediterranean Sea. Given its pristine locations, sensitive and vulnerable ecosystems (such as Posidonia oceanica beds and coralligenous beds with one of the last extensive formations of the precious red coral Corallium rubrum), nesting sites of the loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta and the leatherback sea turtle Dermochelys coriacea, as well as noteworthy underwater archaeological sites, a strategic plan for conservation policy is crucial.

The Libyan coast is being exposed to increasing human pressure and exploitation of its resources, thus the Libyan Government has listed the eastern region of Libya among the priority areas for conservation in the National Action Plan of the Strategic Action Programme for the Conservation of Biological Diversity (SAP BIO) in the Mediterranean region of the Barcelona Convention. Under its National Action Plan, the Government is working to select and establish new marine and coastal protected areas and national parks.

A Memorandum of Cooperation between the Environmental General Authority of Libya, UNEP MAP RAC/SPA, WWF MedPO and IUCN was developed to support Libya in undertaking several actions relative to biodiversity conservation. The first activity, which IUCN is involved in, is to develop a workshop on Ecotourism and Sustainable Development in Libya.

Workshop on Sustainable Tourism
To foster a sustainable form of tourism, the first workshop on Sustainable Tourism in Libya took place in Al-Bayda from 28-29 November 2006. It was organised by the Environment General Authority of Libya, the IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation, the IUCN Business and Biodiversity Programme, WWF MedPO and the Regional Activity Centre for Cleaner Productions of UNEP MAP. The Italian Ministry of Environment co-funded the workshop.

The workshop provided a platform which tourism-related authorities could formulate an inter-agency plan for the development of a sustainable tourism policy at national, regional and local level. This strategy will focus on tourism management in coastal and marine protected areas and archaeological sites.

Some 60 international and national participants representing government agencies, NGOs, scientists, businesses, international organizations and research institutions active in conservation, tourism, and development shared good practice initiatives from many countries, identifying the necessary steps for implementing an effective sustainable tourism strategy and action plan. Practical measures for protecting the rich biodiversity of Libya, including the protection of areas of special importance were also discussed. 

The workshop generated specific recommendations addressing inter-agency and inter-sector cooperation, institutional capacity building, planning and implementation processes, and public awareness needs.

To learn more, you can read the Proceedings of the Workshop.