Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Public/private partnerships for sustainable tourism

Written by Christiane Navas, NICE on Wednesday, February 7th 2018 à 16:02 | Read 1383 times


Supported by the Plan Bleu and the French Development Agency (AFD), three Mediterranean countries, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, are turning to public/private partnerships to make the most of their protected areas.

The project for implementing public/private partnerships (PPPs) in Mediterranean protected areas, launched jointly by the Plan Bleu and the AFD in 2017, is entering an operational phase. "The inventory of legal measures currently available has been completed, allowing us to identify those countries with a favourable environment. Three have been retained: Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. Only the choice of pilot sites remains for the modus operandi to be decided," explains Nelly Bourlion, programme manager at the Plan Bleu.

Three nature reserves, one in each country, have already been pre-selected: Wadi El Gemal in Egypt, Ifrane in Morocco and Zaghouan in Tunisia, each with potential partners and projects to work on. The feasibility studies to be carried out in 2018 will ratify or reject these choices. 

Make associations the local representatives

Photo Wadi El Gemal National Park
Photo Wadi El Gemal National Park
The studies carried out in the various countries under consideration revealed the pivotal role played by associations, due to their local presence on the ground. "Yet they do not have the capital and marketing skills the private sector is able to provide. Hence the importance of setting up tripartite PPPs bringing together public institutions, private companies and the associations, who can act as local agents on the ground," says Nelly Bourlion.

This tripartite set-up also has the advantage of increasing the involvement of local populations in the initiatives undertaken. It also provides a safeguard: since these are protected areas, it's important to ensure that the revenue generated by the activities put in place benefits the local communities. Since the threats to biodiversity cannot be addressed separately from economic, social and cultural issues, it's important that a global and comprehensive sustainable management model be put in place for these protected areas with very precise terms of reference.

A long term view

The ability to build partnerships for the long term appears to be another precondition if protecting biodiversity and return on investment are to be reconciled. The aim is to develop revenue-generating activities that are environmentally sustainable and drivers for employment, thus ensuring attractive revenues for private operators and raising the local populations' standard of living.

The present international context favours PPPs and is in keeping with the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The project, which is being carried by the Plan Bleu and the AFD, should enable motivated countries to be provided with a good practice guide for its implementation. 

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