Med-INA has been a keen advocate of the importance of cultural aspects for the management of environmentally sensitive areas for more than a decade. It has promoted cultural values through publications, multimedia presentations, organisation of pertinent meetings, by developing guidance and providing consultation. It has also supported their inclusion in management planning and has worked closely with several organisations which promote integrated approaches.
Recently, it has joined hands with MedWet, a partner who shares the same vision for the role of culture in environmental management and conservation of wetlands. Med-INA will assist MedWet in re-launching its Culture Network in order to strengthen its operation and will work together so as to demonstrate the importance of cultural aspects in wise wetland management. Both parties have expressed their enthusiasm about the possibilities offered by their joint cooperation.
At the same time, the Ramsar secretariat, with support by the MAVA Foundation, has decided to incorporate the cultural aspects of wetlands more fully in the core of the Convention. Hence, culture-related work has been designated as a Global Priority Initiative and a Culture & Livelihoods Manager is being recruited by the Secretariat to coordinate cultural activities and especially to support the Ramsar Culture Network (RCN). Thymio Pappayannis, the director of Med-INA, and Dave Pritchard will continue to play a central role in the development and maintenance of the RCN as consultants.
RCN activities will be complemented by specific action on five prominent themes, Natural Heritage, Agriculture and Food, Leisure, Recreation and Tourism, Art and Architecture, and Children’s story-telling, each led by designated ‘champions’. These measures are expected to strengthen culture in the work of the Ramsar Convention.
For the support of the RCN up to now by Med-INA, Chris Briggs, Ramsar Secretary General, wrote that “without the scientific contribution and personal commitment that the Med-INA team has made to this issue and topic over recent years it would not have been possible to get to where we are today – with culture as part of our fabric.”