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

Session VI: Enhancing Sustainability

Pursuing the recommendations of the Mid Term Review and furthering the discussion that was held in the MTR session, the meeting discussed issues related to sustainability as these translate into aspects of: integrated institutional mechanisms at the site level, integrated institutional mechanisms at the national level, financial arrangements, and public involvement as a guarantee of ownership and sustainability.

a) Institutional arrangements at the site level for an integrated approach: presentation of country experience and discussion

Ms. Zuna presented the excuses of Dr. Zamir, project director, who regrettably could not be present at the meeting but had prepared the presentation for this session. She highlighted the composition, role and support of the Local Steering Committee meeting. Her presentation is attached as Annex 15

Ms. Goyet proposed to reflect on the steps that are being taken or should be taken at the site level to build the capacity of the focal institution(s) that will be entrusted with the responsibility of the implementation of the management plans.

Dr. Fouda pointed out that the establishment of a local steering committee can not alone ensure the sustainability of the management of the site. He reminded that someone needs to be responsible, that structures need to be in place and a vision shared.

Mr. Daraghma suggested that ’champions’ need to be identified at the local level and induced, with incentives, to take a lead in buying the objectives of the project and buying the vision for local ownership. The ’champions’ could indeed be individuals, associations, institutions, etc.

Mr. Hentathi Adel, ANPE, asked for clarification from the presenter as to who is paying for the work of the local steering committee. Ms. Zuna responded that

Mr. Rizk pointed out that, in the case of Lebanon, work is undertaken to ensure the sustainability of the GAC, through capacity building and partnership.

b) Institutional arrangements at the national level for an integrated approach: presentation of country experience and discussion

Mr. Slaoui introduced the subject and highlighted the example of Morocco and the difficulties in ensuring the involvement of the various national institutions in the implementation of the project. He particularly highlighted the need for the national coordination unit to be endowed with sufficient decision making power to engage the various national institutions and suggested that, for such projects, best would be either attachment of the national project unit to the highest level of government (prime minister’s office) or devolving much of the operational work to local actors. His presentation is attached as Annex 16.

A number of participants emphasized the constraints and difficulties in the undertaking but reminded that the multisectorial integration must be the overriding principle of the national work.

c) Financial arrangements (economic instruments, government commitments, etc): presentation of country experience and discussion

Mr. Rizk presented, in the case of Lebanon, the various possibilities that have been used to mobilize funds and contributions whether cash or in-kind at the site or project level. He cited examples of income generation schemes for small public awareness initiatives as well as the team’s effort to develop full fledged proposals. His presentation is attached as Annex 17.

Dr. Trumbic cautioned that all wetlands can not be fully self-funded, lest it leads to the wrong use of wetlands. The Government clearly has a chief role and responsibility in this area. In terms of ecotourism, he also warned that the ecotourism market is only a very small portion of the overall tourism market and that one should not expect too much from this source of revenue alone.

Mr. Kouvelis emphasized that, in their experience, donors are willing to invest in the conservation if they see that it turns into a success story and if one can demonstrate that the local support and ownership are there. To some extent, a protected area can be self-financed. One should also assist towards meeting local development needs, an action which, in turns, generally then incite the government to extend further support. He also suggested that, besides looking at additional resources for protected areas, work should be done to reduce the operational costs of the management of the site.

Responding to Mr. Lafontaine’s question, Mr. Rizk confirmed that the GAC structure is indeed enshrined in the legislation so is the financing for the GAC. He also confirmed that, thanks to IUCN funding, they are starting the preparation of a business plan for the two sites.

Ms. Al Khatib pointed out that approaching the private sector involves a long and persistent process of nurturing and that each approach should be tailored to the specific private sector operator. One must indeed build on the concern of the private sector to ’green’ their activities.

Mr. Daraghma reminded and invited all participants to focus on the goal of ’integration’, one that must be an overriding principle.

d) Public Involvement - community development, alternative resource use options, public participation in planning and decision making, awareness raising: presentation and discussion

Mr. Daraghma introduced the subject, highlighting that public involvement includes public sensitization and information but also fuller participation of the communities with activities that address the socio and economic needs of the people.

Mr. Mahmoud Chihaoui presented the work undertaken in Tunisia. His presentation is attached as Annex 18.

Ms. Zuna presented a case study of the work undertaken in Albania. The video "Narta and Us" was shown to the participants and copies of the CD-Rom distributed. It describes well the process of public involvement and influence in stopping the drilling operation and encouraging a national policy debate on that matter. Her presentation is attached as Annex19.

Ms. Ghonem presented the work undertaken in Egypt highlighting the efforts to enhance community development on the sites. She presented the approach followed, one that progressively identifies the common area where the objectives of environmental protection of the site and those of development of the people meet. She presented case studies of activities carried out then as a result. Details of her presentation are found in Annex 20.

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