Conservation across the Mediterranean | WWF

Conservation across the Mediterranean

Geographical location:

Europe/Middle-East > Eastern Europe > Albania

Europe/Middle-East > Eastern Europe > Bosnia and Herzogowina
Europe/Middle-East > Eastern Europe > Croatia
Europe/Middle-East > Eastern Europe > Macedonia > The Former Yugoslav Republic of
Europe/Middle-East > Eastern Europe > Serbia
Europe/Middle-East > Middle East > Lebanon
Europe/Middle-East > North Africa > Algeria
Europe/Middle-East > North Africa > Morocco
Europe/Middle-East > North Africa > Tunisia
Europe/Middle-East > Southern Europe > Cyprus
Europe/Middle-East > Southern Europe > Malta
Europe/Middle-East > Southern Europe > Portugal
Europe/Middle-East > Southern Europe > Spain
Europe/Middle-East > Southern Europe > Turkey

Across the Waters training on Climate Change, Spain.


Although the Mediterranean Sea covers only 1% of the world’s marine areas, it contains some 6% of its marine species, including endangered monk seal, marine turtles, dolphins and bluefin tuna. Once the cradle of civilization, the Mediterranean region today faces a host of threats, including pollution, overfishing and overdevelopment.

WWF conducts a number of training and leadership programmes throughout the region to help local environmental organizations focus on conservation and sustainable management of forest, freshwater and marine environments.


The education and capacity building efforts of WWF are an integral part of a global movement of environmental education towards sustainable development, a movement which is encapsulated in the framework of the recently started United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014). The decade’s plan is based on the findings and recommendations of the Agenda 21 adopted at the UN Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 which underlines clearly the importance of formal and informal education to achieve sustainable development goals. To stop the loss of biodiversity and to reduce poverty, education has to reshape mental maps and to share collective global knowledge. New knowledge, interdisciplinary exchange, joint design of learning processes and the facilitation of processes to turn knowledge into action are basic elements of non-formal education in the conservation field and corner stones for the continued improvement of Across the Waters.

The weakness of civil society in large areas of the Mediterranean region, particularly the limited capacity of conservation NGOs are a major impediment to achieving conservation goals and make them sustainable in the long term.

Fully aware of the important role which civil society organisations can play in the protection of the Mediterranean biodiversity, WWF Mediterranean Programme Office (MedPO) opted from the outset for a conservation strategy based on long-term partnerships with southern and eastern Mediterranean NGOs. It was clear that only involving local partners could the sustainability of conservation achievements be assured. ATWs capacity building initiatives for conservation seek to increase the capacity of individuals and organisations to work with others effectively towards specific, concrete, and measurable conservation goals.

Since its early days, ATW has evolved from a small grants scheme to a broad programme that addresses the capacity building needs of Mediterranean environmental organisations with a range of different tools, and by working at distinct institutional levels - individual, intra-organisational and inter-organisational.

Across The Waters (ATW) is one of the best known and highly reputed projects run by WWF MedPO. It was chosen by WWF in 1997 as one of the 20 model projects among its world wide portfolio, and is regarded as one of the global "nodes of excellence" for capacity building.

So far, ATW has been implemented through consecutive phases each lasting three years. At the end of each phase, the programme has undergone a meticulous evaluation, to monitor its impact and effectiveness, and to provide elements and recommendations for the design of the following stage.


The overall goal of Across the Waters is to generate and multiply biodiversity conservation and sustainable development initiatives in the Mediterranean region by strengthening the capacity of conservation activists and institutions through the enhancement of their technical, organisational, and strategic planning skills.

Priority thematic areas:

1. Sustainable natural resource management focusing on Freshwater, Forest and Marine ecosystems.
2. Regional policy processes and good governance.
3. Protected areas management and biodiversity conservation.

Cross-cutting drivers:

- Climate Change
- Environmental Education
- Sustainable Tourism development

Strategic objectives 2006-2008:

1. Improve and further develop the existing ATW capacity building tools: Exchange Programme, Training Courses, Grants Programme, Leadership Programme and identify new thematic areas related to biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.

2. Promote biodiversity conservation and sustainable development strategies within civil society organisations, public administration, private sector and community groups in the Mediterranean region and link local, regional and global sustainable development processes.

3. Develop and set up landscape-based capacity building strategies to support the implementation of conservation action plans.

4. Consolidate and further develop existing networks such as the Cork Oak Forest Landscapes Network and the Mediterranean Freshwater Network and set up new action networks focusing on regional policy processes and marine issues.

5. Develop and put into practice new capacity building instruments, such as online learning or selected conservation support tools.


WWF looks to further expand its programme in the countries of the southern and eastern Mediterranean, and it is conscious that the long-term success of the activities it supports can only be reached through the active participation of the local individuals, groups and organisations and through strategic alliances with other environmental groups of the region.

For the coming years, therefore, it has been decided to concentrate much of the effort on helping build the capacity of grassroots environmental groups, to create a strong, active and skilled NGO movement that can reference itself legitimately to local society and play a key role in the effort to preserve the unique natural and cultural heritage of the Mediterranean.


Since 1994, ATW has worked with more than 120 environmental organisations, while more than 400 individuals have taken part in its training programmes and approximately 2,000 institutions have been reached by at least one of its varied initiatives. As external evaluations have clearly demonstrated, in the last 11 years ATW has contributed significantly to the strengthening and growth of many Mediterranean conservation and development NGOs. At the same time, ATW has fostered the creation of a broad network of environmental institutions and practitioners throughout the Mediterranean basin which communicate, exchange experiences, and develop joint initiatives using ATW as a facilitator.

ATW has been an essential instrument in creating and supporting the fundamental conditions for the delivery of conservation objectives pursued by WWF’s Forest, Marine and Freshwater programmes in the Mediterranean, and for securing the long term sustainability of the achieved results.

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