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Mainstreaming Environment on Demand

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May 11, 2016 / 0 Comments

Plan Bleu, one of CMI’s partners, has recently finalized the Regional governance and knowledge generation project (ReGoKo), on behalf of Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Palestine. Running from January 2012 to October 2015, the GEF-funded initiative fostered the integration of environmental issues into sectoral and development policies of these countries through targeted national and regional activities.

 

The ReGoKo Project is implemented and managed by Plan Bleu and has been funded by a GEF grant, which was executed by the World Bank. The Co-financing partners were the CMI, the French development agency AFD, the European Investment Bank (EIB), the French Ministry of Environment and Plan Bleu.

 

One of the project’s special features was the innovative process by which these activities have been chosen: In fact, when the project was launched, none of its activities were defined but had to be collectively chosen and approved by the beneficiary countries. Throughout the project and based on their current needs in the fields of environmental governance and knowledge generation, the countries prepared concept notes for activities to be implemented under the project. These concept notes were then presented to and discussed with the other countries, which then collectively validated the concept notes’ content and budget.  Special attention was given to ensuring coherence with the already defined components and overall logical framework of the ReGoKo and to creating knowledge sharing and cross-learning opportunities between countries. 

 

This way, 15 truly demand-driven and collectively endorsed activities have been designed and implemented in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Palestine. The ReGoKo’s experience with this innovative process of project definition was much appreciated by the beneficiary countries and allowed them to take strong ownership of the project while answering to their current needs. 

 

Let’s take the example of the activity called “supporting industrial pollution abatement in Lebanon”. The Lebanese Ministry of Environment asked REGOKO to finance environmental audits (EAs) in order to provide a detailed analysis of the situations of 23 industries and verify their compliance with the Limits Values set by the Ministry”. Chosen industries said they were interested in identifying wastewater treatment measures. This activity enabled to foster the integration of environmental issues into the industrial sector in Lebanon.

 

Another illustration has been the “participation of local actors in environmental management “activity. In the aftermath of the Arab spring countries felt they should involve the citizens in environmental and territorial planning debates. ReGoKo was asked to help developing a methodology to put into practice such a participative approach. The experience was tested in different pilot sites such as in Tunisia the bay of Monastir or the Cap Negro and in Morocco Oued Laou, or Boudinar.  This activity provided a framework for cross-sectoral discussions with civil society. Some follow-up activities were even possible in Tunisia. For instance, a project supported by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has permitted the participation of civil society in drafting of a charter for a collective contribution towards the development of ecotourism.  The principle of stakeholder participation was also taken into account in the development of the “Charte nationale de l’Environnement et du Développement Durable” in Morocco.

 

Another example was the question of Illegal discharges from ships in violation of MARPOL. They are difficult to address and regional cooperation is necessary. Ministries of environment as well as environmental prosecutors and low officials of Mediterranean countries asked REGOKO to develop the idea of a Mediterranean network of law enforcement officials (MENELAS).  Following a network meeting where its terms of reference were validated by the Mediterranean countries and following the setting-up of the network website www.menelas.org, both funded by ReGoKo, the network has been officially endorsed by the Conference of Parties to the Barcelona Convention.

 

Many of ReGoKo’s activities are national in nature. Some critics say that ReGoKo’s project design, despite some specifically regional activities, could lead to a simple collection of activities of national interest only. However, project implementation proved this statement to be wrong and on the contrary showed that even national activities allow for useful regional knowledge exchange and cross-learning. For example, when Lebanon implemented its Strategic Environmental Assessment under the ReGoKo, an a priori national activity, the regional interest of this initiative became clear: Lebanon is in fact the only of ReGoKo’s beneficiaries having legislation on SEA. Therefore, on top of this SEA being a pilot of this recent Lebanese legislation, it also provided extremely relevant information and lessons for all other beneficiaries, because they are currently seeking to develop SEA legislation themselves.

 

To learn more about the ReGoKo project, consult the project website under http://regoko.planbleu.org/

Lina Tode

Lina Tode is an environmental and water expert specializing in environmental economics. She has been working with Plan Bleu, the project’s implementing agency, for 5 years and was the project coordinator of the ReGoKo. 

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