Few places on Earth can compare to the Mediterranean. It’s a place where three continents meet, where great civilizations have flourished, and with a climate and quality of life that people dream of. And it’s a place where you’ll still find incredible natural riches, including:
Breathtaking coastlines, islands and natural and cultural heritage that attract hundreds of millions of tourists every year
Fishing grounds that support the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people, and provide some of the world’s finest seafood
Wilderness areas that are home to bears, wolves and lynx
Some of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world, including 25,000 plant species, over half of which are unique to the region.
But little by little the Mediterranean’s natural wealth is being eroded. Overfishing, infrastructure, urban expansion and tourism development, pollution, dams and climate change are all taking their toll. And despite their huge local, national and global importance, surprisingly few natural landscapes and marine areas in the Mediterranean are properly protected.
60% of the Mediterranean’s forests and woodlands were destroyed in the first half of the 20th century
40% of the coastline is built up
50% of wetlands have been lost
91% of fish stocks are overfished.
For WWF, the Mediterranean is a global conservation priority. Our goal is to ensure the natural wealth of the Mediterranean is properly valued, protected and managed, so that it remains the foundation of people’s well-being and a source of joy and wonder for all.
WWF Mediterranean is part of WWF’s global conservation network, which is active in more than 100 countries around the world.
Our Mediterranean team is made up of more than 80 skilled, passionate people based in 10 countries. With headquarters in Rome, we have local hubs in Croatia and Tunisia and partner with local associations in Morocco and Portugal. We also partner with government departments, international development agencies, businesses, scientists and community groups.
Our work focuses on North Africa, Adria (the former Yugoslav republics and Albania), and Portugal.
WWF Mediterranean also works with WWF national offices in five Mediterranean countries – in France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Turkey. Together with these offices and with WWF EPO and WWF International we are engaged in the Mediterranean Marine Initiative. It is an ambitious effort to protect marine and coastal ecosystems right across the region so they can support vibrant communities and economies.
WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth’s natural environment and build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. Our task is to make that happen in the Mediterranean.
By 2050, we want to see Mediterranean governments, people and business value ecosystems, biodiversity and ecological functions as foundations of human well-being and security, and as essential assets for economic development.
We’re aiming to achieve four key goals by 2025:
1. The Mediterranean’s natural resources are conserved and well managed – because people understand that their well-being and livelihoods depend on the goods and services that nature provides.
Healthy ecosystems need to be at the heart of all marine and coastal development. Our work involves:
Influencing government policy on fisheries, marine protection and coastal planning
Engaging with businesses to improve practices in sectors like fishing and tourism
Carrying out scientific research
Working with coastal communities to develop sustainable livelihoods
Raising public awareness and mobilizing support.
We’re working with many partners to develop innovative, practical approaches to managing fisheries, marine protected areas, biodiversity conservation and nature-based tourism that can be adopted right across the region.
2. Mediterranean landscapes are protected, well managed or recovering so they can provide people with crucial ecosystem services.
We support conservation agencies and those responsible for protected areas to ensure they are managed effectively. In particular, we’re building the capacity of EU accession countries to apply European environmental legislation. We’re also demonstrating the economic and social value of sustainably managing natural capital. Projects include creating jobs in protected areas in Tunisia, and growing the market share of FSC-certified cork in Portugal.
3. Freshwater habitats are protected, freshwater ecosystems are healthy, water governance is improved and water footprint significantly reduced.
We’re working with other NGOs to conserve, connect and sustainably manage freshwater habitats, such as wetlands in North Africa. This will help ensure there’s enough water to sustain species and human livelihoods. We’re also working to mitigate potential negative impacts on water security from developments such as agricultural expansion in Morocco and hydropower in the Balkans. Working with governments, we’re improving the way water is managed in some of the most important river basins, taking into account the needs of people and nature – and we’re also encouraging and supporting private sector partners to play their part.
4. The environment is a key part of the economic and social development agenda in the region – for governments and other decision-makers, social and human rights organizations, and donors.
Many groups – from human rights and faith-based civil society organizations, to governments and development agencies, to charitable foundations – support economic and social development in the region, especially in North Africa. We’re demonstrating to them that a healthy environment is essential to human well-being, and that conservation is integral to issues like security, economic development and adapting to climate change. And we’re forming powerful new partnerships that will help people and nature to thrive together.