Commitments for Synergy between Key Stakeholders and Advocacy for the Restoration of Wetlands in North Africa, as a nature-based solution

The partners of the “Restoring wetlands in North Africa as a nature-based solution to improve water and food security - Restore Naw” project, met as part of a regional workshop to exchange and share experiences and good practices, November 16-17, 2023 in Tunis (Tunisia).

Organized by the Sahara and Sahel Observatory, in partnership with WWF-NA, this meeting brought together around forty experts and stakeholders from Morocco and Tunisia, including members of the coordination committee of the network of experts, representatives of water resources and the environment management public institutions of the two countries and the civil society.

The opening of the meeting was chaired by Mr. Nabil Hamada, Natural Resources Management Expert and Coordinator of the Administrative and Financial Department at the OSS, with the presence of Mr. Jamel Jrijer, Director, WWF-NA, and Mr. Manfred Matz, Head of Mission with GIZ in Tunisia. Mr. Nabil Hamada praised the lasting and fruitful collaboration between the OSS and the GIZ (2014), particularly within the framework of the CREM project. He also underlined the importance of wetlands in North Africa and recalled the contribution of ecosystem restoration to the fight against water resources degradation. Mr. Manfred Matz called for more attention on wetlands and stressed the need for promoting the economic value of the water resources they provide, particularly for agricultural purposes. Mr. Jrijer, emphasized the need to strengthen dialogue between the stakeholders and the commitment of all actors.

The “Restore NAW” project was presented with a focus on wetland restoration to improve water and food security. The activities planned as part of the project, in particular Component 4 focused on governance, and the network of Experts led by the OSS, have been broken down. The experience of the Euro-Mediterranean Information System on the Water Field (EMWIS) know-how in terms of Nature-Based Solutions in North Africa was also shared. 

Two case studies in Morocco and Tunisia which respectively addressed the biodiversity degradation of the Sebou basin and the impacts of the Ghar el Melh program came to highlight the importance of community involvement for the preservation of the wetlands.

Working groups were set up during the sessions and examined the results of the activities carried out on the pilot sites of Sebou and Ghar el Melh by identifying the successes, challenges, and possible solutions. It was recommended to expand the network of experts with expertise on wetlands, highlighting the need for awareness and advocacy to mobilize active support for the preservation and restoration of water-related ecosystems.

The roadmap drawn for the next steps includes a network meeting and in-depth discussions on solutions for better preservation of the wetlands.