The International Symposium on Water and Wetlands in the Mediterranean ‘From Grado to Agadir: The next twenty years’ is being held in Agadir, Morocco. It commemorates the first symposium in wetlands which took place in Italy in 1991, when the first Mediterranean wetlands initiative from a regional approach, MedWet, associated to the Ramsar Convention (Iran, 1971)* was launched.
The Mediterranean wetlands support high concentrations of animals and plants species, many of which are endemic to the region. Furthermore, those ecosystems cover directly the needs of millions of people. The wetlands are still considered to be unhealthy places, so it becomes necessary the implementation of conservation and protection measures.
Therefore, the Medwet Initiative came up, including 27 countries, 343 Ramsar Mediterranean sites and covering 6 000 000 hectares.
It will be also be discussed the new challenges faced by Mediterranean wetlands through six thematic sessions. On the first day of the Symposium, three thematic sessions will be held: “Ecosystem based approach to water resource management”, “Adaptation to Climate Change”, “Human Pressures and Wetland Services”
The second day, three more thematic sessions will be held on the “Values of wetland cultural services”, “Sustainable use of Wetland Resources” and “Wetland ecosystems biodiversity and its values”.
The thematic sessions will be divided into French and English groups; with high-level participants, which will provide interesting conclusions and a strategic approach for the present and the future.
An important result of the Symposium will be the initiative on The Agadir Commitments. This will represent different projects that are on-going, just starting or being planned, promoted by national governments, regional and international organizations, NGOs and the private sector, and aiming at the conservation and sustainable use of water-related ecosystems in the Mediterranean basin. They are related to policies, strategies, administrative measures, legal instruments and frameworks, programmes, initiatives or measures at the local, national or regional level.
The Agadir Commitments will be a network to exchange information and an opportunity to create synergies among the projects involved. It will be also updated and enhanced during and after the Symposium, as the identification of positive activities and projects for wetlands is an ongoing process.
The hosts of the Symposium are the Ramsar Convention and its MedWet Initiative, as well as the High Commissariat for Water, Forests and Fight against Desertification of Morocco. Important actors in issues related to water and wetlands are participating, such as BirdLife International, Global Footprint Network, Global Water Partnership-Med, Institut Mediteraneen de l’Eau, IUCN, Observatory of the Sahara and the Sahel, Plan Bleu, Tour du Valat Research Centre, UNEP-MAP RAC-SPA, Wetlands International, World Heritage Centre, Union for the Mediterranean and WWF International.
* The Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971) — called the “Ramsar Convention” — is an intergovernmental treaty that embodies the commitments of its member countries to maintain the ecological character of their Wetlands of International Importance and to plan for the “wise use”, or sustainable use, of all of the wetlands in their territories. It entered into force in December 1975.