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Mediterranean Water Forum: Freshwater ecosystems at the heart of discussions at a side event in Tunis



HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco opened the plenary sessions of the 5th Mediterranean Water Forum on February 6 in Tunis. His support and commitment to the preservation of freshwater ecosystems were clearly expressed. In his speech, the Prince stressed the crucial importance of preserving freshwater ecosystems. He called for strong commitments to their management and protection, concrete actions and increased resources dedicated to them, highlighting the Initiative of His Foundation, DIMFE which is taking action in this field.

"As we all know, multilateral meetings tend to focus on major water access projects. Desalination plants, large-scale water conveyance infrastructures and other technological innovations are all obvious solutions to water scarcity. But these solutions are often costly and energy-intensive. And they overshadow, in these political discussions, the need to preserve the very origin of water, i.e. its natural environment: groundwater, springs, freshwater ecosystems". H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco

Echoing words of Prince Albert II, a side event was organized by the Donors' Initiative Initiative for Mediterranean Freshwater Ecosystems (DIMFE) in partnership with MedWET, entitled "How can nature respond to the water crisis? ?". Its aim: to remind people that preserving and restoring freshwater ecosystems are an absolute imperative for the Mediterranean Mediterranean region, even though they are often relegated to the background in multilateral multilateral discussions on water.

At the event, speakers stressed the urgent need to act in the face of the ongoing the continuing degradation of Mediterranean wetlands, highlighting their rich biodiversity and their crucial importance in combating climate change and in the management of water resources.

"The availability of water for people and socio-economic sectors, depends on the good health of freshwater ecosystems." Raoudha Gafrej, Managing Director, Univers de l'Eau

Alarming data alarming data were presented, with more than half of all wetlands in recent years, and the devastating consequences this will have on biodiversity, water quality and resilience to climate change. Indeed, participants pointed out that these ecosystems play a vital role in in flood regulation, drought mitigation and biodiversity preservation. biodiversity.

The discussions highlighted the urgent need to pay greater attention to freshwater ecosystems often overlooked in favor of other priorities at water forums.

"Preserving and restore wetlands is not only our life insurance for the future future, but also our main ally in guaranteeing sustainable development development for all Mediterranean countries." Anis Guelmami, Coordinator of the Mediterranean Wetlands Observatory
"Decision-makers decision-makers must recognize wetlands as key natural infrastructures key natural infrastructures for hydrological regulation, water filtration and and reducing the risk of floods and droughts." Céline Dubreuil, Program Director, Plan Bleu
"The public policies in Mediterranean countries do not sufficiently integrate the approach ecosystems such as wetlands for the extraction, storage, treatment and distribution of water, instead of treatment and distribution of water, instead of grey infrastructure, and the same goes for mitigating climate change. Marianne Courouble, Policy Expert, MedWET

The side event also was also an opportunity to present innovative, nature-based solutions. solutions. Experts and representatives from organizations such as Living Planet Morocco, Plan Bleu, SEMIDE and the Institute for University Cooperation, shared their shared their experiences and successes in wetland restoration, sustainable sustainable management of water resources and the use of advanced technologies to preserve these ecosystems.

The participants called for the mobilization of adequate funding to preserve and restore restoration of freshwater ecosystems. DIMFE was presented on this occasion opportunity, a collaborative of allied donors to financially support the protection of these ecosystems. DIMFE can be a opportunity to secure funding, but also presents an investment solution for interested philanthropists and donors.

"A study shows how grants between 126 European foundations 13 themes. Freshwater projects are among the least funded, with only 16 million euros granted in 2021." Léa Glâtre, DIMFE Coordinator, Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation Albert II of Monaco Foundation

The recommendations highlight the crucial importance of freshwater ecosystems in the and call for their full integration into national and international and international policies. A holistic approach to water management, cooperation between Mediterranean states, and the mobilization of international funding are also recommended to tackle the crisis. crisis. Freshwater ecosystems must be at the heart of decision-making and and management of water resources, seeing them as vital solutions to the vital solutions to the crisis.