Monitoring water resources in Mediterranean wetlands


In spite of recent progress, an overall vision of water in the Mediterranean Basin from an ecosystem perspective is still lacking. Although much information is available, the link with wetlands is often quite loose. Since our overall objective is the sustainable management of water resources including a “wetlands” dimension, it is necessary to broaden the generally established vision of water simply as a physical resource entirely available for human use. Water management in the Mediterranean Basin must take better account of the water requirements of ecosystems and their contribution to maintaining high quality water resources. For effective management of the status of water resources, water data must also be better shared internationally, including with environmental and/or non-State stakeholders.

Actions and methodology

The Mediterranean Wetlands Observatory strategy consists in setting up monitoring for some key water components, which should enable comparative studies with other MWO data on biodiversity and ecosystem services, and be compatible with international systems. For example, the monitoring of the total area of wetlands and of the extent of flooded areas requires the interpretation of satellite images (GlobWetland2 and SWOS projects). Other indicators, such as the pressure on water resources, are measured nationally by MWO partners like Plan Bleu or the European Environment Agency. Yet others are taken from the scientific literature by means of our ongoing thematic research watch.

Finally, the compatibility with international water indicator systems is ensured by the ongoing comparison of our set of water indicators and those defined in various international frameworks, such as the Sustainable Development Objectives, the Convention on Biodiversity and the Ramsar Convention, and the Plan Bleu Mediterranean Sustainable Development Strategy. These different contributions will be added to the Global Wetlands Outlook being prepared by the Ramsar Convention’s Scientific and Technical Review Panel for its COP13 to be held in 2018.


The update every six years of the MWO indicators show that there is growing pressure on water resources with excessive withdrawals, discharge of pollutants, and other stresses. There is a particularly negative impact in the south-eastern part of the Mediterranean Basin. However, some significant improvements are emerging, particularly in the European Union where the level of organic pollution from phosphates and nitrates is dropping in most rivers and lakes.



Technical partners

Financial partners