TUNE UP Project: The signing of the MoU towards the MPA Contract of Thermaikos Gulf – Axios Delta

TUNE UP Project: The signing of the MoU towards the MPA Contract of Thermaikos Gulf – Axios Delta


Status: in progress

Categorization: habitat and biodiversity

Country: Greece

Period: /

Contact info

Name: Christos Papantos

Organization: ANATOLIKI SA

Email: papantos@anatoliki.gr



Summary description: The Good Practice elaborated below, describes the development and implementation of a Local Contract in Axios Delta MPA, located in Thermaikos Gulf in the Region of Thessaloniki, Greece. Axios Delta MPA is one of the most important ecosystems in Greece. The area is an attraction pole for the tourists due to the excellent landscape created by rivers and wetlands. The rice paddies, the bird fauna, the vegetation, the islets, and the coastline in form of stripes across the Delta, contribute to positive impressions from the landscape. The Management of the MPA is under the supervision of TGPAMA -Thermaikos Gulf Protected Areas Management Authority, however, there are a couple of activities carried out, included agricultural, livestock breeding and shell aquaculture that put a strain on the environment with potential pollution. As such, integrated management entails the coordination of the different key actors involved in the area, with a common view for the protection of the area. This signed commitment will foster the participation of various stakeholders of the pilot area such as public authorities, educational and research institutions, citizens, productive sectors’ representatives and would include an action plan with specific objectives, measures and initiatives for management, restoration, and preservation of the MPA’s environmental, social, and economic aspects.

Type: project

EU Challenges for sustainable tourism: (i) preserving and giving value to natural and cultural heritage and diversity, (ii) minimising resource use and production of waste, (iii) enhancing local community prosperity and quality of life, further challenges

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 essence of the TUNE UP project is the testing and capitalizing of the tool of the territorial/local contracts, formerly exploited in Wetland areas in the Interreg Med program WETNET. The effectiveness of the approach of this multi-stakeholder/multi-level governance tool in cases of Marine Protected Areas was tested in the pilot area of Thermaikos Gulf Axios Delta. The presented good practice describes the effort to formulate the Local Focus Group of this designated MPA and arrive to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) among the involved stakeholders with the ultimate goal to proceed to the formation of a territorial contract for the MPA of Axios Delta.

Financial information

: 0.00 €

Financial sources: x

Background information

Territorial context: The area is an impressive mosaic of land, wetland, and marine ecosystems. Rivers, lagoons, salt marshes, fertile fields and the sea give shelter to hundreds of species of plants and animals. It is a valuable biotope for many animal species, some of which are endangered. Macedonia's history, both ancient and modern, is inextricably linked to the plain of Thessaloniki and the river Axios. There is a museum of Balkan Wars in the wider area.

Relation to policies and strategies: The main law concerning MPAs and defining the managing structures in Greece is law 1650/1986, as amended and being in force. With the late law 4685/07.05.2020 a new National Policy Governance System for Protected Areas has been established in Greece. At central level it includes the Natural Environment and Climate Change Agency (NECCA). At regional/local level it includes: the Protected Areas Management Units (PAMU), Decentralized Administrations, Regions and Municipalities having specific responsibilities. Today the only designated protected areas concerning strictly marine environment in Greece with established protection zones and specific regulations are the National Marine Park of Zakynthos and the National Marine Park of Alonissos and Northern Sporades. Since 2017 the Greek Natura 2000 network has been expanded totalling 446 terrestrial and marine sites.

Regulation framework: MPA contract tool in the Greek territory can be formalized via two alternative solutions: i) MPA contract tool’s integration can be listed among the supplementary measures of River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) next revision as "negotiated environmental agreement". Current Greek RBMPs’ concern the period 2016-2021. 2nd revision of RBMPs will be implemented by the Special Secretariat for Water of the Ministry of Environment. ii) MPA contract tool’s integration can be listed among the measures of the Natura 2000 marine protected areas’ management plans (Natura 2000 MPs). Elaboration of Greek Natura 2000 MPs is in progress by the Department of Biodiversity and Protected Areas of the Ministry of Environment.

Specific information

Objectives: The main objectives of the presented good practice as articulated also in the common MoU signed by the participating stakeholders are: • Formation of an organized system of governance and coordination between the Authorities • Improvement of knowledge and monitoring of the area • Dealing with the effects of climate change • Rational exercise of productive activities • Rational management of water resources • Reduction of pollution • Continuous updating of the framework analysis prepared in the framework of the TUNE UP program • Completion and definition of the time horizon of the Strategic Scenario as it was designed by the processes of the local laboratories. • Preparation of an action plan, with proposals for studies and concrete actions with a timeline and budget • Implementation of a monitoring system


Beneficiaries: Business support organizations, private SMEs, higher educational institutions, local public authorities, regional bodies authorities, to name but a few.

Innovation aspects: The signing of an agreement among stakeholders in a region of environmental interest such as the case of MPA Thermaikos Gulf-Axios had an innovative aspect of interaccional collaboration among mussel and rice cultivators and breeders for the first time. Their creation of a consensus was a great opportunity for terrestrial and maritime cultivators to deeper understand the opportunity for terrestrial and maritime cultivators to deeper understand the mutual reliance of the impact that their activities provoke and reassess their practices. The project further promotes the integration of a legislative intervention plan, as an integral part of the Regional Policy Toolkit.

Actions: Following the identification of possible stakeholders involved in the area through the elaboration of a stakeholders mapping, ANATOLIKI invited them to participate in the 1st Local Conference. In this event the Tune project, its scope and expected results were presented and a first Local Focus Group was formulated. -Through round table discussions during local workshops and the distribution of information material and questionnaires, the LFG members contributed to the formulation of the alternative scenarios, shared their views on issues concerning the area and their activities and prioritized the most urgent problems to be solved. - All participants agreed on the need to carry out their activities by adapting sustainable and environment-friendly practices.

Stakeholders involvement: Forty Different Stakeholders were identified and registered to a "stakeholders map". Among them, there were business support organizations, private SMEs, higher educational institutions, local public authorities, regional bodies authorities, to name but a few. They were invited and in the end 25 different stakeholders participated in the procedures. Some of them were present in all sessions, others partially participated. They were required to fill in a questionnaire and answer a set of questions describing their position about the critical aspects of the pilot area. The outputs of the questionnaire displayed and assessed in three subsequent territorial labs. The time span between each of the territorial labs, progress reported, upon the adaption of a common strategy in addressing the main criticalities. During the territorial labs, some initiatives were delegated from public and private entities, as for example the pilot action «Plastic Busters MPAs». It is referring to the monitorin

Results achieved: -Public authorities and bodies, users, and organizations active in the area came in contact and interacted regarding the critical issues of the MPA, -Specific problems of the area by sector of activity and responsibility were identified, -Concrete actions were proposed to resolve them taking into consideration both the local development and the environmental protection and promotion of the area, - The importance of water for the region, which is the recipient of the residues of all activities, and its proper management, aiming at its qualitative and quantitative improvement, is a common goal of all the stakeholders, - All participants agreed on the need to carry out their activities by adapting sustainable and environment-friendly practices. -Through the signing of the MoU the stakeholders agreed to join forces and funding and proceed to the formation of the local contract of the Axios Delta MPA with specific action plan and timeline.

Potential for learning and transfer

Challenges and obstacles: The extensive use of questionnaires addressed to stakeholders contributed to the collection of data important for the development of the project which, due to the conditions created by the pandemic, would otherwise be difficult to collect. With the extended contribution through this process, a list of possible actions and proposed projects was compiled. The method yielded significant findings, however, there were some difficulties either due to workload or due to negligence. For instance, commun


Transferability in COASTING project: The participatory approach of governance can be easily transferred and adopted in several cases especially when various stakeholders, most commonly with conflicting interests and needs, are involved. The process can establish a channel of collaboration between managing and monitoring authorities with people living and operating their activities in a designated area where for instance an environmental threat arises, or a large-scale project is to be implemented.