Memorandum of Understanding for a better governance in the Marine Protected Area of Amvrakikos Gulf (Greece)

Memorandum of Understanding for a better governance in the Marine Protected Area of Amvrakikos Gulf (Greece)

Overview

Status: in progress

Categorization: habitat and biodiversity

Country: Greece

Period: /

Contact info

Name: Christina Kassara

Organization: Amvrakikos Gulf – Lefkada Management Agency (AWMB)

Email: cristina.kassara@gmail.com

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Summary

Summary description: The TUNE UP project foresees the formulation and signing of local Memoranda of Understanding by key stakeholders for the development of MPA Contracts. The latter aim to achieve a sustainable future in 10 pilot sites through the implementation of actions targeting the improvement of the environmental status, socio-economic development and governance. In this context, TUNE UP builds on the experience gained through the WETNET Interreg Med project by adopting the Wetland Contracts tool to Marine Protected Areas. The TUNE UP project partner “Amvrakikos Gulf-Lefkada Management Agency” (AWMB) proceeded to the formulation of a local MoU for the Amvrakikos Gulf MPA through a participatory process where 39 people (24 stakeholders) from the public and private sector were actively engaged. The objectives of the local MoU include: (a) establishment of an information collection and distribution network on ecosystem protection, socioeconomic development, and governance, (b) creation and promotion of synergies, (c) improvement of knowledge and monitoring of the pilot site, (d) sustainable management and use of resources, including promotion of green entrepreneurship, (e) prevention of environmental degradation, and (f) promotion of citizen science.

Type: other

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EU Principles: (i) taking a holistic and integrated approach (economic, social and environmental aspects), (ii) planning for the long term, (iii) involving stakeholders, (iv) multilevel governance, (v) promoting awareness and commitment

Reason of interest for COASTING: The procedure for the formulation of local MoUs is the core activity of the Testing phase of TUNE UP project. It enables the evaluation of whether the Wetland Contract tool can be adopted and effectively implemented in the pilot sites, and as such, allows the identification of criticalities and eventually the exploration of future steps for improvement. The applied methodology involves the implementation of a participatory process, in the form of territorial labs, where key stakeholders are actively engaged.

Financial information

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Financial sources: x

Background information

Territorial context: The Amvrakikos Gulf MPA is an enclosed, relatively shallow gulf, surrounded by nearly 390km of coastline and is part of the National Park of Amvrakikos Wetlands. It features a marine (gulf) and a coastal (wetlands) area in the northern side, which as of 2017 is designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC: GR2110001). The coastal area is also designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA: GR2110004), a Ramsar wetland (3GR009) and an Important Bird Area (GR081). The MPA consists of a mosaic of ecosystems of high ecological value, formulated by an extensive hydrographic network with numerous lagoons and a double delta system, as well as a marine part that includes a few small islands.

Relation to policies and strategies: NO CABE ENTERO - The MoU is the first step towards the formulation of a MPA contract. However, Greece currently lacks a legal framework at local, regional or national level for MPA contracts. Therefore, in the absence of a legal tool, MPA contracts could be promoted in the future as part of supplementary measures of River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) in the next revision as "negotiated environmental agreements". The latter could be extended to include a wider network of stakeholders (i.e. not only between the Managing Body in charge and farmers, but also among all local stakeholders). Another alternative solution could be the promotion of MPA contracts among the measures of the Natura 2000 marine protected areas’ management plans that are currently in elaboration. ----------------

Regulation framework: NO CABE, ANTERIOR

Specific information

Objectives: The participatory process implemented by AWMB in the framework of TUNE UP project aimed at engaging key stakeholders in the formulation of a local MoU by first establishing a communication channel that would allow all participants to express their opinion on the critical issues that need to be addressed to improve governance in the pilot site. This process ultimately intended to identify commonly agreed priority axes and lines of action that would be then included in the MoU.

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Innovation aspects: The concept of negotiated environmental agreements is relatively new to Greece, especially so in the case of MPAs. Stakeholders are not familiar with bottom-up approaches, whereas, for example, collaborative schemes and green entrepreneurship, wherever practiced, results from initiatives taken by the private sector. Thus, the participatory process initiated by AWMB in the region is expected to form the foundation for a coordinated, inclusive approach to the MPA governance. Furthermore, it is expected to improve access and sharing of knowledge regarding the environmental status, socioeconomic and governance, allowing more effective management and monitoring of the MPA, and facilitating the development of synergies among interested parties.

Actions: The participatory process was implemented in the form of labs carried out virtually due to the covid19 crisis. Following a preparatory exercise during which all key stakeholders (public and private) were identified, three sector-oriented labs were held based on the stakeholders’ degree of dependence and influence on the MPA natural resources. During the labs the main problems and possible solutions regarding the environmental status, socioeconomic development and governance of the MPA were discussed. Based on the conclusions drawn, the commonly agreed priority axes and lines of actions for the improvement of the MPA governance were formalized in the local MoU, which was formulated by all actively engaged stakeholders.

Stakeholders involvement: TBD

Results achieved: The participatory process offered a unique opportunity for the diverse stakeholders of the area to meet and exchange views. This was particularly important for AWMB, whose aim is to ensure the coexistence of human activities with environmental protection and natural resources conservation. A common agreement was reached on the necessity to achieve a good environmental status since it reflects back to their business activities. As such, the importance of reliable and up-to-date data for the identification of problems, causes, and effective solutions for the sustainable development of the area and the adoption of more sustainable and environment-friendly practices was appreciated by all participants. Up to June 2021, 15 stakeholders have signed the local MoU.

Potential for learning and transfer

Challenges and obstacles: NO CABE - The main challenges involve: (a) lack of a common vision for the area, which is related among others to the scattered knowledge of the key mechanisms and driving forces leading to the deterioration of the natural environment, (b) the diversity in the profile of stakeholders, including the degree of dependence on a specific economic sector and on the organization of economic activities (e.g. individual, SMEs, cooperatives, large enterprises), and (c) the complexity of the insna

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Transferability in COASTING project: Negotiated environmental agreements are gaining popularity in recent years among Mediterranean countries. The main features of MoUs, i.e. inclusiveness and lack of legal and financial commitments, could be attractive in other MPAs and thus create a momentum for a more widespread implementation in Greece. The criticalities that emerged during the implementation phase in the case of Amvrakikos Gulf MPA are to some extent applicable to other regions nationally and beyond. A critical aspect that needs special handling when drafting a MoU is the relative number of stakeholders that are directly dependent on the MPA resources. Moreover, to become an effective tool for MPA governance MoUs need to be consolidated in MPA contracts that will be regulated by national legislation.