Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Extending public-private partnerships to protected area management

Written by Christiane Navas, NICE on Thursday, February 16th 2017 à 16:45 | Read 1046 times


Faced with diminishing public resources with which to fund the management of protected areas in the Mediterranean, the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Plan Bleu are looking at the public-private partnership option.

Nature and PPP (photo G.Tur)
Nature and PPP (photo G.Tur)
The number of protected areas has been increasing in the Mediterranean, with 1200 at present for the marine domain alone. Their role? Contribute to preserving biodiversity without hindering regional economic development. So what are the results? The stated aims have rarely been achieved, especially in the Eastern and Southern Mediterranean, as insufficient financing means that the human and material resources required to carry out the conservation programmes cannot be mobilized. The solution, therefore, lies in finding sustainable financing modes.

The public-private partnership option is being studied, thanks to an initiative by the AFD, which has tasked the Plan Bleu with drawing up an inventory of legal frameworks that might serve as models. "This inventory is not limited to just the Mediterranean Region. On the contrary, we are looking to widen the scope of the search to identify operating schemes that might be adapted. An example is the partnerships put in place in Central and South Africa for managing parks, often through concession contracts granted to non-profit NGOs," explains Plan Bleu programme manager Nelly Bourlion. 

Looking for a new equilibrium

In the Mediterranean Basin, certain countries such as Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco have already trialled delegated management schemes for some tourist facilities. These trials have opened up avenues for reflection, but the increase in sector-specific regulations does not always give potential private partners the necessary visibility. It is also important that the involvement of private stakeholders should not limit conservation measures for purely lucrative ends. "We therefore need to find an equilibrium, avoid the over-exploitation of natural resources while at the same time mobilizing sustainable resources other than public funds," admits Bourlion. Especially as the public-private partnerships will help to change the way the relevant authorities do things. Often focussed on policing measures, they could engage in a process of cooperation with stakeholders in civil society and encourage them to take a more active role in conservation work.

The legal framework study being carried out by the Plan Bleu should be finished in the spring of 2017. The next step, between now and September, 2017, will involve identifying pilot sites. This will enable the schemes best adapted to the public-private format to be trialled in forest, marine and coastal areas with a view to optimizing the management of Mediterranean protected areas.

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