Another year has flown by and the time came to celebrate the Mediterranean Coast Day. This year, it was a little bit different than usually. The central regional celebration lasted two days instead of one, on September 24 and 25. Namely, the host this year was France, more precisely the “Conservatoire du littoral” which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Anniversaries of several other organizations involved in coastal conservation also fall this year, namely fifty years of the National Trust programme "Neptune", forty years of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP), thirty years of the Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas (RAC/SPA), twenty years of the French GEF and the Tunisian Coastal Protection Agency, ten years of the PIM Initiative for Mediterranean Small Islands, and, finally, the launching of the Coastal Agency of Montenegro.
The Conservatoire, PAP/RAC and the city of Antibes, thus, decided to combine these anniversaries with the Mediterranean Coast Day celebration by organising a Meeting of Coastal Agencies from Europe and the Mediterranean on September 24 and 25 in Antibes Juan les Pins (Maritime Alps – France). During the two days, there were more than 250 Mediterranean and European actors involved in the protection of coastal zones, including governments, international organisations, local authorities, public sector, coastal management organizations, associations, and funding agencies, who participated in the various workshops, events and celebrations.
In parallel, the Agence Française de Développement and the Blue Plan organised, on September 24 in Antibes, a regional workshop on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) in the Mediterranean. Fifty-odd participants joined the workshop to discuss the ICZM-related objectives of the AFD/Blue Plan partnership, including (i) the integration of social and environmental issues within the management process engaged on coastal areas, and (ii) the operationalisation of strategic recommendations proposed in the frame of a balanced development of these territories.
After the plenary session in the morning of September at the Palais des Congrès of Juan-les-Pins, the participants were transferred to the Batterie du Graillon, a property of the Conservatoire du littoral, and its 2 hectares of natural areas at the extreme point of the Cape of Antibes, managed by the City of Antibes Juan-les-Pins. In the afternoon, the participants had the opportunity to exchange ideas and thoughts in four thematic workshops:
Coastlines, how to adapt facing climate changes?
Workshop 2. ICZM: Practices and tools for integrated planning of coastal areas
La Batterie du Graillon where the workshops were organised (lunch & view of the site)
To close this important day, the City of Antibes gave the participants the opportunity to celebrate the Anniversaries at the Villa Eilenroc, at the Cape of Antibes, dating from the Belle Epoque, bequeathed in 1982 to the city of Antibes Juan-les-Pins. In this exclusive setting, everyone had the opportunity to taste products from the Conservatoire’s sites, and chat in a relaxed atmosphere.
Villa Eilenroc, anniversaries
The morning of September 25 was dedicated to the Coast Day, and the prospects regarding coastal management. A synthesis of the exchanges of Day 1 was presented and discussed, especially regarding the major issues that are the climate change, the naturalness, the coastal planning and the partnerships within coastal zones management. Key actors participated in a round-table about the future of our coasts. “The way we manage and use our resources and ecosystems has a definite and obvious impact on the lives and livelihoods of present and future generations” said Mr. Gaetano Leone, Coordinator of UNEP/MAP. Recalling the United Nations summit for the adoption of the post-2015 Development Agenda gathering leaders from all over the world these days in New York, and in particular the goal 14 of the Agenda entitled “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources”, he added: “We are all called today to commit to the achievement of this goal so that by 2020, we are able to sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans”.
Coast Day opening ceremony and panel discussion
The Antibes Declaration, developed based on the meeting conclusions, reflects the commitment of these agencies and of the countries bordering the Mediterranean to the protection of the coast. It will be brought to the attention of the United Nations Climate Change Conference during the UNFCC COP21, that will be held in Paris next December.
Ms Zeljka Skaricic, PAP/RAC Director, encouraged the participants to keep on building synergies and cooperation for a better environment, especially in these times of fragmentation around the Mediterranean. She recalled that the involvement of 22 countries bordering the Mediterranean in the preparation of a Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management in the Mediterranean, which entered into force in 2011, and which is the first legal instrument of its kind in the world, is a clear indicator of their commitment to preserving the coast. M. Xavier Sticker, French Ambassador for Environment, gave a lively synthesis of the exchanges.
At the end of the plenary session, children from Antibes got on the stage to present their project "I love my sea", that they had developed all along this year, and delivered their Declaration in favour of the conservation of the coasts of Europe and the Mediterranean. Mr. Jean Leonetti, Deputy-Mayor of the City of Antibes Juan-les-Pins, concluded the morning session joining the kids on the stage.
Children from Antibes got on the stage with Mr. Leonetti, Deputy-Mayor of the City of Antibes Juan-les-Pins
The celebration continued in the afternoon at the Villa Eilenroc. Before leaving the Villa to visit the coastal footpath of the Antibes Cape, Ms Vivianne Le Dissez, President of the Board of the Conservatoire, delivered officially to Mr. Sticker, French Ambassador for Environment, the Antibes Declaration for the conservation of coasts facing global change.