The Mediterranean coast is exposed to severe threats from climate change: it’s one of the biggest crises humanity has ever faced. Sea level rise, warming waters and changing storm patterns are already having serious impacts on the lives of more than a third of the region’s population – that’s some 180 million people.
Each year on 25 September, Mediterranean countries celebrate ‘Coast Day’: this celebrates the importance of coastal areas as natural, cultural and socio-economic resources that contribute to sustainable development.
“With the Mediterranean sea level projected to rise by 1m by 2100, it has become more urgent than ever to address climate change issues in the region. Strong collaboration between policy makers is crucial for finding efficient and sustainable solutions for disaster risk reduction. Given the failure of previous actions based on traditional ‘hard’ infrastructure, other natural solutions must be considered – and nature has a lot to offer in this respect,” says Alessio Satta, MedWet Coordinator.
When protected and restored, coastal wetlands, including coral reefs, mangroves, oyster reefs and salt marshes, act as natural safeguards against climate impacts through the multiple services they provide: these include flood protection, wave attenuation, storm surge reduction, sediment capture and erosion reduction.
“These are what we call nature-based solutions. They allow us to implement sustainable, robust and often more cost-efficient approaches than conventional man-made solutions alone. We urgently need to learn to work more with nature, not against it” Satta concludes.
Coast Day events
This year, the regional celebration of Coast Day will be held in Ayia Napa, Cyprus, on 25 September 2019. It is being organised by PAP/RAC in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment of Cyprus and specifically the Department of Environment.
Specific events are also being organised in many areas in the region.
The Off Your Map campaign supports Coast Day activities, especially in the following countries:
- In Sardinia (Italy), the MEDSEA Foundation promotes a 48-hour ‘marathon’ aimed at creating new project ideas and business proposals, developed on the basic concepts of the Blue Economy. This is known as Blue Hack, a two-day hackathon organized by Open Campus on 27 and 28 September at the Visitor Centre in the Municipality of San Vero Milis (OR). Participants will be asked to look for innovative solutions to promote a growth strategy in sectors related to the sea and coastal areas, according to environmental sustainability methods and with particular attention to the promotion of wetlands and coastal areas of the Gulf of Oristano. You can read more about the event here.
- In Tunisia on 21-22 September, WWF North Africa held a two-day event in Ghar el Melh lagoon. The event had the theme ‘Water and Climate Change,’ and included creative workshops with camping around Sidi Ali el Makki, as well as an educational stay with storytelling related to the traditional ‘Gataaya’ method of farming and how it will be impacted by climate change.
- Albania will organise its first Coast Day this year in the Buna River Velipoje Protected Landscape. Various activities are involved, from canoeing on the lake and a bicycle race, to a photo contest and a traditional fair with regional cookery and traditional arts and crafts.
- In Montenegro, the Public Enterprise for Coastal Zone Management of Montenegro has planned the cleaning activity of the Long beach of Ulcinj involving school children. Then, they will visit the recently declared Ramsar site of Ulcinj Salina where they will be informed of the importance of wetlands in general, and especially for birdlife.
- In France, the Tour du Valat, in collaboration with its partners from the Conservatoire du Littoral, the Société Nationale de Protection de la Nature and the Parc Naturel Régional de Camargue, organise days to present the restoration project of former Saltpans in the Camargue to elected officials. The Camargue coastline is subject to various natural risks exacerbated by climate change. This nature-based solution (NbS) project aims to rewild previously exploited saltpans so that they can act as a buffer during coastal flooding episodes and provide a natural means of adaptation to shoreline variations. See the project: “Adaptative Management of the Lagoons and Marshes on the former Camargue Saltworks site
Find more about Nature Based Solutions (NBS) in
- The publication: “Outsmart climate change: work with nature! Enhancing the Mediterranean’s climate resilience through Nature-based Solutions”
- The booklet : “Nature Based solutions in the Camargue’s former saltworks”
Join the ´Off your map’ campaign for coastal wetlands in the Mediterranean led by MedWet