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Project Field and Policy Initiatives for Freshwater Conservation in North Africa and Western Balkans

The project contributes to the delivery of the freshwater component of the WWF Global Conservation Programme, specifically, through addressing the priorities set out in the Mediterranean Freshwater Strategic Framework.. It is complementary to the project implemented by WWF in partnership with Euronatur in the western Balkan ecoregion, thanks to the financial support of the MAVA foundation.

In parallel to the development of the Balkan proposal, an outline for a WWF project to address the protection of freshwater biodiversity in North Africa and tackle main policies affecting key areas in the Mediterranean was prepared and discussed with the MAVA Foundation. In summer 2006 an overall agreement on this outline (broader scope and objectives) was reached.

The proposed project focuses on 3 components:
1) Morocco. This component revolves around the conservation of freshwater ecosystems, through payments for ecosystem services (PES) with the aim to ensure thate concrete funding schemes are in place at the end of the project.
2) Algeria. This component is a preparatory phase for developing the Algerian wetlands policy and includes a local coordinator position.
3) Policy. This component requires the hiring of a policy officer to focus on 2 main issues:
- European Neighbourhood Policy targeting North African countries (Morocco and Algeria). This component aims to ensure that the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) brings about the best outcomes for freshwater resources and ecosystem conservation. The ENPI will drive support to development which could potentially impact negatively or positively on biodiversity. The implementation of this policy represents a significant opportunity to establish a lasting framework which will enable more effective action on the ground for freshwater ecosystem conservation. Timely advocacy now, by WWF, is essential to ensure this European Union (EU) mechanism delivers significant benefits to future biodiversity conservation.
- Hydropower, targeting the western Balkan countries, the aim of this component is to minimize the impact on freshwater ecosystems, in priority basins, due to hydropower infrastructure. Action by WWF in this area is timely in the context of the developing EU approach on a wider European integrated electricity market. In October 2005 the Energy Community Treaty (ECT) was signed between the European Union and 9 partners of Southeast Europe. As a result of this treaty the internal EU market for energy will be extended into the Balkan Peninsula as a whole. This policy component will be closely interlinked to the field work on priority basins envisaged in the WWF-Euronatur proposal already benefiting from support by the MAVA Foundation. The options assessments in the WWF-Euronatur project, which will be carried out in the 3 basins, will serve as the main argument in lobbying dam investors and owners to commit to environmental sound operations.

Project number n/a
Geographical coverage Bosnia and Herzogowina, Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Algeria, Morocco
Budget (in €) 0
Programme WWF MEDPO
Web site
Objectives Overall goal

Maximally leverage knowledge and solutions developed through field projects into development of a well-informed public policy. This approach will ensure that our efforts in the field are greatly multiplied and that our conservation gains are secure over the long term. The EU policies in this approach are seen as both an opportunity for WWF to influence key processes, and as a potential threat if we do not act in a timely manner to ensure that development funding is not incompatible with principles of sustainable development and biodiversity protection.

Specific objectives

1. Set up a payment for ecosystem services (PES) scheme which supports freshwater ecosystem conservation in the Sebou Basin, Morocco.

2. Lead to the development of a National Wetlands Policy to be endorsed by the Algerian government.

3. Ensure that the European Policy Instruments contribute to the conservation of freshwater ecosystems in Morocco and Algeria and do not promote hydropower infrastructures jeopardizing the ecological integrity of priority river basins in the western Balkans.

4. Minimize the impact of hydropower dams in priority river basins in the western Balkans.
Results The nature of the proposed work is challenging due to the heavy political implications, big economic and financial interests involved, and the priority given to development with respect to any other objectives such as the environment. The magnitude of the task does not absolve us from the responsibility for trying to tackle it in a strategic way, using all of our strengths. Actions identified in this proposed project are necessary, opportunities are here, and we are confident that with MAVA Foundation’s support, the WWF Mediterranen Programme Office's (MedPO) Freshwater Unit has the capability to successfully lead this project.

We will rely on the following strengths to bring the project to successful completion:
a) Bringing expertise and support from the WWF Network - WWF Macroeconomic Programme Office, WWF European Policy Office, WWF Dams Initiative, MedPO staff and other WWF National Offices.
b) Existing field projects within the project areas that provide the foundation for policy work (e.g. Merja Zerga, Skadar, Neretva).
c) Excellent partners with a good history of collaboration (Tour du Valat, Euronatur).
d) Established working relationships with governmental agencies: Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Sebou River. Basin Authority and Haut Commissariat aux Eaux et Forêts et à la Lutte Contre la Désertification (respectively July 2006 and January 2007).
e) Ability to leverage financial support obtained from the MAVA Foundation (e.g. through possible partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Algeria; WWF Austria and other WWF offices in the Balkans).
f) Capacity to disseminate lessons learned throughout the Mediterranean basin, and enhance the delivery and sustainability of achievements through capacity building of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and institutions.
g) Experience in using the WWF Network and existing internal communication capacity as effective lobbying tools.
Period [01/01/2008 - 30/06/2010]