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Regional report
Report of the third Regional Advisory Committee
Wednesday 19 November 2003, by Web Team

Session I: progress in implementation of the project

The chairperson introduced the subject and invited the representatives in alphabetical order to make a presentation.

- Albania

Ms. Violeta Zuna, project manager, spelled out the process that had been undertaken in the Narta Lagoon project site to assess the impacts of the proposed oil exploration project and thereafter rehabilitate the site. She also pointed out to other activities and concrete actions carried out over the past few months, in particular in the area of public awareness. The process of preparation of the management plans has started, with identification of national experts and initial consultation. She informed that assistance from TdV to accompany the process is currently being formalized. She continued with a recapitulation of training activities and capacity building efforts underway and concluded by highlighting lessons learned through the project:
- importance of local steering committee as important tool for intersectoral consultation and for involvement of all actors
- the project has been able to address potential threats to the sites
- the project can mobilize the local population She confirmed that the targets of the Albania project for 2004 relate to: national wetland strategy and approval of the law on biodiversity, management planning process well underway by end of the year, and increased public participation. Her presentation is attached as Annex 4

Mr. Trumbic underscored the importance of making links and integrating the effort with the overall planning of the government and enquired whether links have been made with, e.g., the Ministry of Planning. It was responded that, through their involvement in the Steering Committee, the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Planning are cooperating with the project.

Mr. Trumbic also enquired about the participation of the private sector, e.g. tourism. Mr. Daraghma further highlighted that this point was spelled out in the MTR report and that increased attention should be given to this item in the future.

Mr. Amaoun asked about the scope of participation at the local level of NGOs and communities and Ms. Zuna highlighted that there is a need to enhance the capacity of these actors in order to enable them to fully participate in the project.

Dr. Fouda reminded that the objective of the RAC is "to help" and invited her to spell out clearly in what ways the RAC could help more.

Ms. Al Khatib suggested that the Albanian project could enter into partnership with other MWC national projects and cited that, in Lebanon, there has been good experience with this process of engaging the private sector and she pointed out that there could be opportunities to link with the Lebanon project in that regards.

- Egypt

Dr. El Badry highlighted that, upon review of project activities, his presentation will chiefly focus on challenges, past and future. He explained that Egypt is now in the first phase of implementation of the management plan, also pointing out that preparation is well underway to prepare and organize a round table meeting of donors in order to solicit funding for some of the management plan projects. He also pointed to the ongoing work on socio-economics. He welcomed and called for constructive criticisms on the plans developed and highlighted that these need to be revised and strengthened on the basis of informed expert advice. He highlighted the achievements and impacts and particularly described the institutional structures that are being prepared to ensure the sustainability of the project.

He pursued by highlighting the challenges faced over the past year and then further described the main challenges ahead in terms of:
- securing funding for the implementation of projects,
- developing the skills of second line staff at the site level, and
- developing policies for effective management of wetlands and coastal resources. His presentation is attached as Annex 5

Ms. Al Khatib enquired about the commitment of the Egyptian Government to sustaining the local management committees and their actions. Dr. El Badry replied that a good number of operational actions are clearly under the responsibility of individual members of the committee through their respective institutions.

Cautioning that the question is geared towards all of the project components, Mr. Daraghma asked how much of the biodiversity has been protected and what impacts have been achieved, and whether and what type of regular monitoring mechanisms are now in place to monitor the threats, the integrity of the system, and other bio-physical elements. Dr. El Badry spelled out that this work is mostly considered within the framework of the implementation of the management plans. As such, some initial action to that effect has been carried out but more will be done in the near future.

- Lebanon

Mr. Charbel Rizk presented the status of activities and achievements, particularly highlighting the monitoring efforts and giving concrete measure of some of the indicators (turtle nesting, breeding of birds, etc.). For 2003, particular effort is being scheduled on the aspects of biophysical monitoring. He continued by spelling out the progress that is underway for site diagnosis and site management plans, both undertaken conjunctly and through partnerships with other ongoing UNDP/Ministry of Environment projects. He particularly explained the functioning of the GAC (Government Appointment Committee set up for each of the protected areas in Lebanon), highlighting that the meetings increased from 1 to 3 times a month at the site of Tyre, an indicator of interest and achievements. Particularly welcomed, the presentation focused on indicators of impacts and achievements. Special highlight was put on actions undertaken by the project to raise social and livelihood opportunities at sites. His presentation is attached as Annex 6

Upon query from Ms. Nadia Bahraini, Mr. Rizk highlighted that a lot of preparatory work had already been undertaken under the GEF PA project but that, in addition, much effort is and has been carried out under the initiative of the MWC Lebanon project and in partnership with other actors.

He further explained that the scheduling of the site diagnosis and management plan are concurrent but done in an adaptive and iterative way, both efforts feeding into each other.

Responding to the question from Mr. Jean Jalbert, he explained that the reducing of threats, e.g. grazing, had been achieved chiefly through consultation and mediation, also building on opportunities, and incentives have been only in terms of talks and encouragement.

- Morocco

Mr. Youssef Slaoui presented the achievements and activities of the project and spelled out efforts already initiated or planned over the coming months/year. His presentation is attached as Annex 7

Mr. Jean Jalbert asked whether the project has the means to respond and address the threat inherent to the large tourism development being planned next to the Moulouya site. Mr. Slaoui responded that there is already a law requiring EIA, though no secondary law has yet been passed, which should require that all environmental considerations have been taken into account. In addition, he underscored that the project is trying to enter into negotiations with the development firm.

- Tunisia

Mr. Habib Ben Moussa presented the activities and achievements of the project in Tunisia, particularly highlighting the work undertaken on the Management Plans and the effort to increase public awareness and sensitization. His presentation is attached as Annex 8

Dr Fouda reminded the meeting of the essential query that one has to make, namely whether the project is collectively and effectively making a difference in terms of conserving some key species and habitats. He commended the presentation from Lebanon which made good insights into this area. And he underscored that this is what the GEF will want to see and hear. He also enquired whether the project is able to achieve the social and economic goals for the general public, highlighting issues such as poverty alleviation, water conservation, water quality, and equity in benefit sharing. Synergies between different environmental and development initiatives should be pursued.

- Case study

Taking advantage of the scheduling of the meeting in Tunisia, the meeting welcomed the opportunity to hear in more details of the process that was undertaken to prepare management plans for the Tunisian MWC sites. Mr Sami Ben Hadj, from the consultancy company GEOIDD that had been contracted to do the job for 2 of the MWC sites, presented the process, steps and achievements. His presentation is attached as Annex 9

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