The first Mediterranean Environments Regional Academy (MERA) was organised from 2 to 11 November 2018 in Morocco. This is the third regional academy organised under the auspices of the Global Environments Network, and our first academy in the Mediterranean region.
Mediterranean cultural landscapes and seascapes have been shaped, over millennia, by the reciprocal relationships between people and their environments, resulting in a vast and unique regional biocultural diversity. The Mediterranean biodiversity hotspot is ranked as the third-richest in terms of plant diversity and covers over 2 million square kilometres. It is widely recognised that this diversity is the result of the knowledge and practices of Mediterranean peoples who have developed highly specialised systems of landscape/seascape management to deal with the region’s climatic and geographical challenges.
Entitled “Community-based management in the Mediterranean: innovations in socio-environmental research and action”, MERA 2018 gathered emerging environmental changemakers from the Mediterranean region who are passionate about conserving Mediterranean biocultural diversity, maintaining its cultural landscapes/seascapes and sustaining the livelihoods of the communities who manage them.
MERA 2018: Objectives
Through a focus on cultural landscapes and seascapes, MERA was designed to:
- Share new methodologies and knowledge to advance socio-environmental research and action, with a focus on community-based resource management;
- Facilitate intercultural dialogue;
- Promote networking among Mediterranean environmental practitioners to foment collaboration, peer-mentoring and joint reflection;
- Strengthen leadership abilities of Mediterranean environmental changemakers to enhance personal and professional trajectories and catalyse the development of new solutions to pressing socio-ecological issues in the region.
Structure and contents
MERA 2018 focused on the relationships between nature and culture in the Mediterranean, and in particular on the role of community-based resource management systems in maintaining unique landscapes/seascapes and biocultural diversity they harbour. The academy created spaces to co-develop new ideas, methods and solutions to the region’s pressing socio-environmental challenges.
Activities focused on four major themes:
- Local product commercialisation, rural livelihoods and the private sector;
- Communal governance and management systems in the context of local and national government;
- Policy, advocacy and the role of communities in promoting biodiversity-friendly cultural practices;
- Agroecology and food systems.
Different formats and facilitation methods were used in the MERA sessions including interactive sessions with regional experts, dialogues and debates, participant presentations, skills workshops, field visits, and peer-mentoring sessions. Experts of the region participated as facilitators and mentors. Activities were carried out in two different locations in the High Atlas Mountains, the rural communes of Ait M’hamed and Imegdale, sites where the Global Diversity Foundation has worked since 2013.