The eight partners of the Mediterranean Experience of Ecotourism (MEET) project gathered on 10-11 April 2014 at the premises of the Directorate-General for Natural Environment and Biodiversity of the regional Government of Catalonia in Barcelona to put in common project activities to date, launch the new project website and decide the next steps forward.

During the meeting, the partnership Members approved the selection of 17 protected areas to directly benefit from the selection of nature reserves and a brief description of the pilot sites were completed by Jordan, Lebanon, Greece, Italy, Spain, France and Tunisia, whereas Egypt, Malta and Tunisia are currently selecting their protected areas.

The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) in Jordan, leader coordinator of the pilot actions, presented a preliminary project proposal and action plan for one of its reserves as an example to be followed by the other sites selected. A field trip to the three Spanish protected areas participating was arranged by the Catalan partner.

The partners also approved the official launching of the project's website, which offers a smooth overview of the project's objectives and expected results as well as a description of the main partners. The website will be updated with information on main activities to be implemented until the end of the project in October 2015. In the coming weeks the first MEET newsletter will also be circulated to share information on main actions undertaken during the first year of activity.

Coming actions

The IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation, a project partner, informed participants about the next training workshop on products development for protected areas to be organized in the Lazio region (Italy) by mid May in coordination with the IUCN Regional Office for West Asia. The workshop targeted to consultants and agencies or institutions dealing the management of ecotourism packages in protected areas.

Furthermore, the agenda for the first meeting of the Advisory Panel on Ecotourism (APE) within the MEET project was approved by the partners. The Advisory Panel will meet in Montpellier (France) on 12 June 2014 hosted by the National Parks of France.

The MEET strategic project involves 10 Mediterranean countries: Italy, France, Spain, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Malta, Cyprus, Greece and Tunisia. The "MEET" project is funded by the European Neighborhood Policy Instrument (ENPI CBC MED), and aims at developing a new approach for ecotourism planning in Protected Areas of the Mediterranean. The MEET Network was established in September 2013 to improve the cooperation and support for protected areas in employing and promoting ecotourism as a tool for conservation and sustainable development.

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