Advancing system thinking to reduce major environmental stresses in Mediterranean coastal zones

The GEF UNEP/MAP MedProgramme's efforts to reduce major transboundary environmental stresses in Mediterranean coastal areas, strengthen climate resilience and water security and how to continue its efforts in the future were the key topics of discussion during the MedProgramme side-event organised by UNEP/MAP and GWP-Med during the 5th Mediterranean Water Forum in Tunisia.

The scope and progress of implementation of the GEF UNEP/MAP MedProgramme “The Mediterranean Sea Programme: Enhancing Environmental Security” was presented and discussed in a dedicated side-event organised by UNEP/MAP and GWP-Med during the 5th Mediterranean Water Forum on 5 February 2024 in Tunis, Tunisia. *

The side-event titled “Using System thinking to enhance Water Quality, Sustainability and Climate Resilience in the Mediterranean source-to-sea continuum" was attended by around 40 stakeholders from around the Region. Participants were informed about the activities of the project to promote the integration between Water (fresh and marine), economies and productive sectors, land-use, land-sea interactions and climate change along the Source to Sea continuum. They also discussed ways to capitalize on the different work lines of the MedProgramme in the future for further reducing major transboundary environmental threats faced by the Mediterranean Sea and its coasts and building climate resilience and provided suggestions for the elaboration and continuation of the next phase of GEF funded Programmes and projects in the Mediterranean, on the theme of Water Security.

Mr. Mohammed Kayyal, MedProgramme Coordinator analysed the structure of the MedProgramme and its structure around 8 Child Projects aiming to tackle key environmental priorities in the Region. 

During his welcoming speech, Mr. Mohammed Kayyal, MedProgramme Coordinator provided a short presentation of the project’s key characteristics and its 8 Child Projects. He referred to the different methodologies that are being applied under the framework of the Programme in order to reduce land-based pollution in priority coastal hotspots, enhance sustainability and climate resilience in the coastal zone and protect marine biodiversity. Mr. Kayyal stressed the multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder and multi-level systemic planning approaches that are being applied in the beneficiary countries which aim to achieve multiple benefits at the National, Regional and Global levels by supporting relevant binding international agreements and enhancing the capacity to mainstream them into policy making and implement them.  

Mr. Dimitris Faloutsos, Deputy Regional Coordinator GWP-Med stressed the growing recognition of the interconnectedness between Water, Energy, Food and Ecosystems (WEFE), and the need for them to be addressed as a system, based on a WEFE Nexus approach. He also presented the methodology and implementation of the WEFE Nexus and the Source-to-Sea approaches at the Mediterranean level, and in particular in Lebanon and in the Tangier-Tétouan-Al Hoceima region of Morocco, where GWP-Med is leading activities under the MedProgramme.

Ms. Olivia Becher, EBRD ENVITECC Operation Lead presented EBRD's lines of work in the region and made reference to the need for freshwater protection against the threat of water stress which is expected to rise in the coming years. 

Ms. Olivia Becher, EBRD ENVITECC Operation Lead at her intervention “Financing Advanced Environmental Technologies in the Mediterranean Sea Region for Water Systems and Clean Coasts” stressed the role of the private sector to promote sustainability and municipal involvement. For the Mediterranean region specifically, she analysed the need to protect existing freshwater resources from overexploitation and pollution against the threat of water stress, which is expected to increase in the near future. Ms. Becher stressed the urgency for depollution solutions to protect freshwater and coastal ecosystems as well as the catalytic role of grant programmes in achieving necessary levels of concessional finance in such hard-to-invest activities. Among the projects that EBRD supports are the depollution of the Mediterranean Sea region, protecting water dependent communities and natural habitats while according to Ms. Becher ENVITECC offers investment support, technical assistance, knowledge management and policy dialogue.

The event continued with the presentation of MedProgramme’s support to integrated water management across economic sectors, societies, territories (source to sea) for Morocco and Lebanon.

The case of Morocco was presented by Mr. Hicham Bouziane, Director of Planning and Regional Development, Regional Council of Tangier-Tétouan-Al Hoceima. Mr. Bouziane presented the key characteristics of the Tangier-Tétouan-Al Hoceima (TTA) region, its privileged strategic position and unique biodiversity and ecosystems.  He mentioned the socio-economic challenges that it faces and reiterated the region’s commitment to sustainable natural resources management. He subsequently explained how GWP-Med assists the TTA Region of Morocco in enhancing sectorial and spatial policy integration through a “system thinking approach” and explained the tangible solutions for Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystem (WEFE) security that have been identified based on a Nexus/Source-to-Sea analysis of drivers and pressures affecting the coastal zone and its marine environment through the Nexus Assessment Phase I. He also presented the WEFE Nexus intervention that will be implemented in the Loukkos areas within the context of Phase II. The activity, implemented by GWP-Med in the framework of MedProgramme Child Project 2.2 includes a drip irrigation system and floatable solar panels, aiming to reduce the consumption of water and energy required for farming and minimize the use of fertilizers.


Mr. Kayyal presented Lebanon’s progress, based on an intervention provided by the Lebanese Ministry of Energy and Water. The presentation highlighted the Programme’s efforts to strengthen the water and environment sectors governance and management, including the basis for collaborative mechanisms and for enhancing policy coherence among institutions, which have mandates on the same natural resources such as water, land biodiversity etc. Moreover, an update was provided on the activities undertaken in the country under the Nexus Policy Dialogues lead by GWP-Med, the establishment of the Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems (WEFE) Inter-Ministerial Group and the efforts towards the Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) Planning in Lebanon by the Ministry of the Environment, PAP/RAC with the support of Plan Bleu/RAC and UNESCO IHP.

The side-event ended with a panel discussion dedicated to the next phase of GEF funded Water Initiatives in the Mediterranean. Participants explored ways to capitalize on the collective efforts of the MedProgramme and its predecessor projects implemented in the Region to continue jointly tackling the major transboundary challenges faced by the Mediterranean Sea and its coastline.

*GEF Lead Implementing Agency: UN Environment. Other GEF Implementing Agency: European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Leading Executing Agency: UN Environment/MAP. Executing   partners: UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (IHP), European Investment Bank (EIB), Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP-Med), WWF Mediterranean Programme Office (WWF MedPO), IUCN, Priority Actions Programme Regional Activity Centre (PAP/RAC), Plan Bleu Regional Activity Centre (Plan Bleu), Specially Protected Areas Regional Activity Centre (SPA/RAC) and the Sustainable Consumption and Production Regional Activity Centre (SCP/RAC)


The presentations given during the event as well as its Concept Note and Agenda are available on the right-hand side of the page.