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The project MEET - Mediterranean Experience of Eco-Tourism

 
 
 

The MEET project is an initiative cofounded by the European Programme ENPI-CBC Mediterranean basin, where Federparchi - Europarc Italy is the Leader of a partnership of nine Institutions, each of them responsible for the environmental conservation policy in its country.

Activities have started in January 2013 and will end in October 2015; they involve 10 Mediterranean countries: Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta, Spain, Tunisia, in each of them two Pilot Actions will be carried out in two Protected Areas.

Follow up of the project will be assured through the establishment of a Network among involved Parks and thanks to a Secretariat which will take care of promoting and trading the ecotourism packages managed by the Parks

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PARKS AS DEVELOPMENT POLES OF SUSTAINABLE TOURISM IN THE MEDITERRANEAN
Core of the project is the ambitious goal of testing and transferring in any area of the Mediterranean region, with high environmental value (esp. protected areas), a set of management strategies and operational tools aiming at the establishment a tourism offer which allows to know and experience in an authentic - and not in a globally standardized - way the local features and values.

Protagonist of such an offer will be the local communities, to whom MEET project will provide tools, concepts and activities that will be identified through a participative process shaped starting from the lessons of the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism.

MEET project is based on an assumption: the sharing of ideas and good practices on tourism offer sustainability (on environmental, social and economic point of view) represents an amazing component of balanced development for the communities of both shores for the Mediterranean, and one of the main issues for the future of the Earth, on which many innovative proposals and initiatives are comparing each other

We are all aware that the delicate equilibriums of environment, society and economics of what has been the cradle of firs civilizations are in a high risk from a sustainable point of view.

Italy has a great commitment - beside an objectively central role, not only from geographical point of view - towards the Mediterranean region; thanks to MEET project, together with the other project partners, Federparchi - Europarc Italy wants to unveil in 20 Protected Areas from 10 Mediterranean countries a still hidden capacity coming from the experiences carried out in many parks, such as the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism and others best practices.

The knowledge that underlies the project activities converges on the need of a committed and consequent action to achieve forms of collaboration that we deem essential, in order to: raise the widespread level of attention on environmental problems looming in the Mediterranean; increase awareness of international organizations towards the role and potentiality of parks and other protected areas in the Mediterranean basin; bring a contribution of ideas, proposals and shared experiences, essential to deal with the specific topic of the relationship between the protection of biodiversity and the sustainable development of local and national communities in the region.

STRENGTHENING THE POLICIES OF ACTIVE PROTECTION
The general framework that the project MEET takes on is represented by major international agreements on environmental matters adopted by the World Summit on Sustainable Development, by the Convention on Biological Diversity, by the Convention on the World Natural and Cultural Heritage, by the Convention on Wetlands of International importance and by numerous other conventions that push everyone to prompt and innovative actions.

Specifically with regard to protected areas, through the MEET project we want to advance the topics of the forthcoming 2014World Parks Congress in Sydney: "Parks, people, planet: inspiring solutions". We are convinced that in such difficult moment where current economic patterns, based on the unlimited exploitation of non-renewable resources, are in a global crisis, the role and experiences of the parks can bring a significant contribution in order to inspire new economic and social models taking into account the priorities and immediate threats that weigh on biological diversity and on the natural and cultural heritage, both of them being, for our country and for all those that border on the Mediterranean, of crucial value.

MEET is a project that looks to the Mediterranean, but intends to give actual answers to local needs through the promotion of support of any useful initiative promoting the participation of local and regional communities, the design and implementation of cooperation programmes among protected areas, economic operators and citizens in the Mediterranean region, together with the local authorities, by comparison, democratic participation and technical and scientific support that will support each key step of the numerous planned activities.

THE MEDITERRANEAN AS ADVANCED ECOTOURISM DESTINATION
The main outcome, beside the creation of new tourism packages based on the Mediterranean "brand", is the establishment of an open, democratic, participatory entity, determined in pursuing the goals of sustainable development that respects places and local cultures, established following a political decision of the local authorities and by people responsible for the operation or the management of protected areas in the Mediterranean basin. It will act through the method of processing platforms, programs and shared actions aimed to the recognition of the importance and of the proper role in tourism for protected areas, and to the assumption of direct responsibility in the implementation of agreed decisions.

Mediterranean has witnessed and preserved our civilization. In the last decades we have guiltily neglected it, putting it seriously at risk and even our own survival. Now we have to make it the protagonist of a project of future built on the extraordinary environment that the around 500 protected areas in the Mediterranean preserve and on an economy asset that puts in value and supports the amazing relationship, unique in the world, between culture and nature, still largely unexpressed or expressed in an unsustainable way.
The project partnership
IUCN
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