Summary: MedECC initiative succeeded in building and mobilizing a network of scientific experts as well as in gaining political recognition. The preparation of the first MedECC report on the current state and risks of climate and environmental changes in the Mediterranean started at the end of 2016. In March 2018, a workshop dedicated to the chapter of the MedECC report on drivers of climate and environmental changes was held. At the end of 2018, another workshop will be organized to initiate the work on the Summary for Policy-Makers (SPM) of the 1st MedECC report. Other objectives for 2018 include developing the communication strategy of MedECC, extending the MedECC Scientific Committee and scientific network and further developing dialogue with policy-makers. Additional funding will also be sought.

Two years after its creation, the MedECC initiative succeeded in building and mobilizing a network of scientific experts as well as in gaining political recognition from Mediterranean countries and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs). The challenge is now to progress towards the first report, to strengthen the dialogue with stakeholders and to institutionalize the network. These will be the main activities of MedECC for 2018.

The preparation of the first MedECC report on the current state and risks of climate and environmental change in the Mediterranean progressed well in 2017. Three thematic workshops were held, during which a detailed outline of the chapter on the challenges of climate and environmental changes was produced. A meeting of the MedECC Steering Committee will be organized early in 2018 to endorse the outline of the report, the authors and the schedule. In March 2018, a workshop dedicated to the chapter of the MedECC report on drivers of climate and environmental changes in the Mediterranean was organized. In order to respect the planned release date (end of 2019), the first version of the full report should be produced by the end of 2018. During 2018, the coordinating lead authors will be responsible for the organization of the writing of their respective chapters. All the lead and contributing authors will have access to the online bibliographic database containing the scientific articles and reports covering the thematic scope of report. This database will continue to be developed and enriched during 2018.

If sufficient funding is available, in November-December 2018, the lead authors will participate in a three-day workshop. The aim will be to initiate the work on the Summary for Policy-Makers (SPM) of about 20 pages of the first MedECC report, which will be the core document to be validated by policy-makers. This workshop will have the charge to define the main messages, the precise outline, and the illustrations of the SPM. Further steps in 2019 will be: i) the review of the draft report by the expert reviewers, ii) the review of the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) by government representatives (Union for the Mediterranean, National Focal Points of Plan Bleu Regional Activity Center of the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Mediterranean Commision for Sustainable Development and other decision-makers), iii) a large conference to present, discuss and endorse the SPM of the first MedECC assessment report (if sufficient funding is available) and iv) the publication and distribution of the report and SPM (go to article for detailed procedure).

Another objective for 2018 is to better develop the communication strategy of MedECC. This work started in December 2017 by the improvements of the design and contents of the MedECC website. It is crucial for a good visibility of MedECC and will continue in 2018.

Due to the international character of MedECC, the efficient internal governance is essential to ensure the set-up of the science-policy interface and its long-term maintenance. At the end of 2017 the Steering Committee of MedECC is composed of 19 members including 15 scientists and 4 representatives of policy-makers. In 2018, the Committee will be further extended to ensure better thematic and geographic coverage of Mediterranean environmental sciences. As mentioned here above the MedECC Steering Committee meeting will be held early in 2018. Two other remote meetings (through videoconferences) will be organized in 2018.

At the end of 2017, MedECC counted more than 390 members from 31 counties. Membership is open to all scientific experts working on climate and environmental change in the Mediterranean from different research fields, and who are willing to provide their expertise on a voluntary basis. It is very important that all the regions of the Mediterranean are represented in the MedECC network in a balanced way. Despite significant progress on this issue done in 2017, some additional efforts are needed. Moreover, there is a thematic disequilibrium, because economy, social and political sciences are underrepresented compared to environmental sciences. Researchers in these disciplines are particularly encouraged to join MedECC scientific network. They can express their interest by completing the online survey. In addition, some scientists working on specific issues included in the report outline and for which there is not enough expertise among the MedECC members, will be invited to join. MedECC Steering Committee will establish relevant membership rules in 2018 and review the MedECC members list, to ensure representativeness and credibility.

Several initiatives, research programmes, and policy bodies at the regional, national, and local level support MedECC. The network also benefits from a growing support from Mediterranean countries governments (France, Monaco, Morocco). Further networking will be conducted in 2018 to strengthen the visibility and the legitimacy of the Mediterranean science-policy interface.

The successful accomplishment of the actions presented here above will much depend on the funding obtained for the functioning the MedECC. The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and Plan Bleu (UNEP/MAP Regional Activity Center) signed a collaboration agreement to support MedECC. The financial support is necessary to set up a scientific secretariat of MedECC. Additional funding will be sought (for example COST or LIFE+).

16/01/2018

This article was produced by Katarzyna Marini with the support of Plan Bleu – UNEP/MAP.