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Meeting report of regional technical seminar
National strategies and policies for wetlands
Beirut, Lebanon, 16-18 February 2004
Thursday 18 March 2004, by Web Team

6. Session 2: implementation of the national strategy/policies: guidelines and case studies

6.1 Introduction

Pere introduced the afternoon session, highlighting the structure of the different interventions. His presentation is attached as annex 13

6.2 Guidelines of the Ramsar convention. Part II: mechanisms for implementation of the wetland strategy and its integration into sectoral policies

Mr. Salathe started by reminding of the 8 steps recommended for the development of a national strategy. He particularly highlighted the relevance of setting up a national wetland committee, and the prerequisite of representativeness of this committee to ensure a balanced approach. In terms of organizational matters, he underscored a number of issues which should be addressed in order to ensure greater chances of implementation: a) responsibility for implementation, b) developing implementation guidelines and c) defining what resources are needed. He stressed the importance of coordination at the national level and inter-ministerial harmonization as well as the development of an implementation plan or workplan with clear timeframes and targets.

He further highlighted a number of essential parameters to ensure that policy is translated into action:
- article 4.5 - training of policy planning staff and wetlands managers, based on a training needs assessment.
- Precedence of conflict resolution and consensus development He also underscored the usefulness of sharing experience at national and international level.

In terms of the next steps, he recommended 1) the establishment of a monitoring programme, both to monitor the progress and success in the implementation of the policy and to monitor the status of the wetlands and 2) the set up of mechanisms to adapt the policy to changing circumstances.

His presentation is attached as annex 14

6.3 Spain: Implementation of the strategic plan for the protection and sustainable use of wetland

Mr. Picatoste described the composition and role of the National Wetlands Committee in charge to coordinate the implementation of the strategy.

He pointed out to the weaknesses in the implementation of the policy:
- lack of political willingness;
- lack of resources to develop/implement the commitments. In that context, he explained that the General Direction of Nature Conservation is using its core budget to implement the strategy, for there is no budget line specific for this purpose;
- overlapping with the Spanish Strategy of Sustainable Development (currently in development). There is a need to redefine the relationship between this and the other strategies (wetlands, biodiversity).

In terms of strengths and opportunities, he highlighted that:
- The strategy is a document of consensus
- The dynamics of work is consolidated
- It gives a solid planning framework
- To be the host country of Ramsar COP8 supposed an reinforcement for the implementation

He pursued by pointing out to specific activities and actions undertaken under each of the general objectives, such as the inventory of wetlands by royal decree, the establishment of a training programme in the National Education Environmental Center and the set up of social participation structures in protected areas. He explained that wetlands funds were envisaged under general objective 7 - mobilize financial assistance - but not yet operational; funds for implementation have therefore been reoriented from the core budget.

He reminded that Spain fully contributes to the European and international agreements, directives and policies related to wetlands, also highlighting that the country contributes to Natura 2000 with 24% of its territory. In terms of international cooperation, he stressed that there are two major priority: latin American countries and Mediterranean countries (by means of the so-called cooperation programmes on biodiversity ARAUCARIA and AZAHAR, respectively).

Finally, he confirmed that Spain is currently preparing an analysis of the Spanish strategy and its alignment to the Ramsar Strategy 2003-2008. He reported though that some 75% of the Ramsar strategy is being addressed by the Spanish strategy. As a conclusion, he stressed that:
- The use of resources from the DGCN core budget for the implementation of the strategy has resulted into serious limitations
- Weak results in those actions that require strong political support
- Good implementation in those actions related to inventoring, planning, management, research, synergies and cooperation
- The consolidated dynamics of work with a rich and strong relationship among the multiple parties involved in wetland conservation was reinforced

His presentation is attached as annex 15

Mr. Falaki asked how the Loi Littoral/Coastal Act does contribute to the Spanish wetland strategy. Mr. Picatoste explained that the Spanish Coastal Act does include coastal wetlands, and that there is a strong link between both instruments. He further confirmed that the General Direction of Coastal is a member of the National Wetland Committee, and that, as such, they are involved in setting up the wetlands priorities.

Mr. Boumezbeur asked whether the members of the national wetlands committee are paid on a separate budget or whether they are covered under their own ministry’s budget. Mr. Picatoste explained that each body/institution covers the cost of its own participant(s). He reaffirmed that, regrettably, the Ministry has no specific budget for implementation of the wetland strategy.

6.4 France: Implementation of the national action plan for wetland

Ms. Guth referred to her morning presentation and explained that she would now present a very concrete mechanism for implementation of the strategy. The implementation of the action plan is entrusted with the various dedicated management units: the 6 ’poles relais’ or activity centers adopted in 2000, set up in 2001, and operational since 2002. Each is hosted in and run by a specialized agency or institution, under contract, and supported administratively by one of the regional directions for environment:

1) littoral wetlands - entrusted with the Forum des Marais Atlantique,
2) mediterranean lagoons - entrusted with the Tour du Valat,
3) peatlands - ENF
4) inland wetlands - FNPNR
5) river valleys - CSP
6) ponds and temporary ponds - IEDD

Each of these structures is staffed with 2 persons, and charged to ensure the thematic guidance over the whole territory. They operate under a framework agreement of 3 years with the Ministry whereby they each receive a yearly allocation of 150,000 Euro in order to carry out their actions. The funds are taken from the Fonds National de Solidarite sur l’Eau.

The coherence of the whole plan is ensured by:

- yearly coordination meetings of the 6 regional directions of the environment, the 6 agences de l’eau and the 6 ’poles relais’.
- yearly meeting to review the status and progress
- a technical meeting intra-’poles’ to facilitate exchange of experience among the 6 poles relais.

She then presented the organisation of these ’poles relais’. They have a steering committee defining the priorities, and a scientific committee which is consulted on technical and scientific matters.

To translate the national wetland action plan on the ground, the ’poles relais’ must:

- collect and make available relevant information. They each have a website where information can be consulted; they organized thematic workshops, publish newsletters and documents
- they promote the sustainable management of wetlands, through their participation in management networks, technical support and guidance, publication of methodological guidelines
- they are responsible for assessing the results of the national action plan at the national level

The mandate of these ’poles relais’ is to:

- implement and translate the plan into concrete actions;
- make known the national elements of the plan at the local level;
- participate in relevant fora and networks in order to sensitize and disseminate information
- communicate the results of the actions that they carry.

She then provided further details on the working of these ’poles relais’ through the example of the forum des marais atlantiques. Further information and full coordinates of the ’poles relais’ can be found at

In terms of communication, she added that the managers of wetlands sites do meet regularly to publish a newsletter ’zones humides info’ 3 times a year.

To conclude, she highlighted the priorities of the plan for 2004:
- further carry out the ongoing actions;
- support the activities of the ’poles relais’
- pursue the effort to integrate the wetlands issues into all of the sectoral policies
- strenghten the work of awareness raising and training She also further informed that they are considering establishing two additional ’poles relais’: one for mangroves and for mountains.

Her presentation is attached as annex 16

Mr. Slaoui pointed out that the sites covered by this plan surely does not only include public but also private land and asked how they succeeded in bringing the private owners in line with the plan’s priorities. Ms. Guth explained that getting private owners to participate in the plan does indeed require persuasion, lots of consultation and some resources. There is no straight forward means to oblige a private owner to conserve a wetland. But sensitization and communication should prevail.

Mr. Tayseer Mustaha, Policies and Environment Planning, Environment Quality Authority of the Palestine Authority, pointed out that it took a long time from preparation to implementation and he asked as to what should then be the recommended action to ensure restoration and implementation of urgent measures when needed and even though the plan is not yet ready for implementation. Ms. Guth emphasized the role and responsibilities of the partners and of the users or abusers in that respect. She cited the example of the highway and TGV line Lyon-Marseille going through wetlands of regional importance. The Highway society was obliged to recreate a wetlands site nearby in compensation for the one that was authorized for destruction.

Ms. Goyet underlined that the French implementation strategy, through the ’poles relais’, is a very interesting mechanisms and she asked whether there are any links between the ’poles relais’ and regional/international efforts. She also asked about the involvement of the private sector in the implementation of the plan. Ms. Guth pointed out that the ’poles relais’ do not have the mandate to do so for the moment, the priority being on strengthening the structure and the initiatives nationally, with the exception of TdV which has some prerogatives to work internationally, but this is due to the mission of TdV not to the objective of the Mediterranean lagoon ’pole relais’. With regards to the involvement of private sectors and investors, she confirmed that the objective is to ensure that they do contribute financially to the effort. She cited the example of the Conservatoire du Littoral which has an agreement with Danone to contribute to infrastructure development of some of the sites. She also mentioned cooperation agreements with private foundations (’fondation de france’, ’foundation national des chasseurs’, etc.) There are then options for private sector to participate.

6.5 Turkey: Implementation of the national strategy for wetland

Mr. Golge reminded of the operational objectives of the Turkish national plan. In terms of implementation of the strategy, he informed of some of the activities already engaged:
- a national inventory programme and a background education programme started in Fall 2003 (the collected data will be digitized and incorporated in a MedWet database and available on the website);
- some restoration projects have started such as lake Avlan;
- new Ramsar sites have been studied and submitted for nomination, to include 9 karsic sites;
- preparation of management plans (eg. Lake Manyas management plan was launched in 2001, lake Uluabat management plan was completed in 2002). In 2003, 10 new management plans are in the making.

He pointed out that the ministrydoesnot receive any specific budget for the implementation of the strategy but somefundsfor specific activities: from NGOs or international projects. He pointed out that one of the problems that they encounter in implementing the strategy is the difficulty to run the activities from the central government; therefore they now attemps to work with decentralized agencies or institutions, in particular for environmental education and awareness.

Mr. Tomas asked whether the national wetland committee is involved in the implementation of the strategy. Mr. Golge informed that the committee is consulted for any decision that needs to be taken.

His presentation is attached as annex 17

6.6 Summary of the key elements with regards to the preparation and the implementation of national wetland strategy/policies and discussion

Mr. Tomas summarized key points from the two sessions.
- as per the Ramsar guidelines, the strategy has to be led by a national lead agency, often, a ministerial department of the Ministry of Environment.
- Identification of main issues
- identification of government departments concerned and other stakeholders
- recommendation that the national wetland committee plays a significant role in that process

He recalled some of the practical recommendations made, in terms of: writing team, budget available, timetable for preparation, political support.

In terms of the outline of the document, he stressed the importance of defining main goals, the scope of the strategy, including the definition of wetland (he cited a few controversies with regards to the definition: rivers, lakes, constructed wetlands), the classification of wetlands, and the values of the wetlands.

He further stressed that the strategy must be based on:
- analysis of status of wetland resources - on the basis of inventories, but also study of the uses, analysis of the problems and causes leading to a diagnosis of the present situation, thereby defining priorities for the strategy
- guiding principles
- definition of objectives: from the general to the specific (eg. the Turkish strategy is following the current Ramsar strategic plan)
- actions: some at the national level, some at the catchment level, some at the local level. He stressed the importance of providing guidelines also at the sectoral policy level (eg. Irrigation, water use)
- definition of who are the actors involved in the implementation of the actions.

In terms of implementation process, he suggested that the actions have to prioritized, normally through an action plan. He recommended the set up of a coordination mechanism (citing the example of France with the 6 ’pole relais’; the role of the ministry in Spain to consolidate the regional action plans). And he stressed that the implication of local actors and funding mechanisms have to be considered when preparing the strategy.

Finally he stressed the importance of monitoring and evaluation and of a feedback process to evaluate the success of the strategy, including through the preparation of annual reports.

He concluded by reaffirming that the strategy is a tool, an instrument to achieve the target, the target being to change the mentality from ’wetlands are wastelands’ to ’wetlands are NOT wastelands’.

His presentation is attached as annex 18

Ms. Aude Delescluse, AFD Lebanon, asked how these national strategies can be integrated into the local development policies and urban plans. From the Turkish side, Mr. Golge mentioned that local authorities are consulted systematically for any local activities planned. As for France, Ms. Guth confirmed that the ’poles relais’ do rely on steering committees and local support structures, which are staffed with representatives from local authorities. She gave the example of the Forum of the Marais Atlantiques which organize a number of activities to reach out to local concerns and issues, events which are widely attended by local authorities, thereby further sensitizing them to the issues. In addition, she gave the example of the 42 regiional natural parcs/’parcs naturels regionaux’ which are closely associated with the local authorities. She also gave the example of the Sologne, largely under private holding. There is then few options: either appropriation of the land by the Conservatoire or negotiation with the private owners, the latter being clearly the preferred option. She stressed that the link to local authorities is through the ’poles relais’, which are closely associated with the local issues. In Spain, Mr. Picatoste explained that all local authorities (more than 8000 municipalities and 52 provinces) are grouped into a Federation; this Federation is often used as conduit to convey messages and reach out to the local authorities.

Mr. Raggabi asked about the most effective operational timeline for a strategy. Mr. Salathe indicated that Ramsar guidelines are not specific on this point, probably a 5-year strategy, or one that would best refer to the timeline of national governmental planning processes would be best, i.e. follow the same cycle as the government, in order to ensure best correspondence of the deadlines and synergy across the planning processes. That is why the Convention does not give any strong indication on this issue. Ms. Guth also suggested that, in terms of timeline, it is best to define the timeline as per its own national context and constraints. In France, the scale is 10 years. On the other hand, the 42 ’parcs naturels regionaux’ set up in 1967 must, every two years, present their management plan and every 10 years they have to renegotiate their label with the Ministry. For the 7 national parcs, they must develop a 5-year programme of action - fully financed by the State. For other types of policy instruments, the scale of 3 years is recommended, eg. the 3-year framework agreements with the ’poles relais’.

Regional Meeting report of National strategies and policies for wetlands
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