Ramsar sites are internationally protected wetlands designated to maintain an international network for biodiversity conservation and sustain human life. There are often conflicting interests for site management that lead to decisions based on sectoral policies or local approaches that have poor outcomes in terms of effectiveness and trade-offs. The European Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) requires European countries to foster an integrated approach for wetland management through collaborative governance processes. The environmental contract is a tool that has been developed and implemented to set the ground for voluntary-based commitments for the sustainable governance of water systems. This paper reports on the results of the first study investigating the implementation of voluntary environmental contracts at the Mediterranean European level. Our results indicate that Ramsar sites in the region have made great progress with the development of management plans, yet many sites still lack governance schemes involving stakeholders. Voluntary environmental contracts have been widely used in Ramsar sites in France and Italy, but only a few other European countries have started implementing them. We have identified the need to further adapt the tool to local and national contexts, as well as the need for legislation, to promote upscaling at the regional scale.
Keywords: governance, participative processes, Ramsar sites, stakeholder engagement
Ernoul, L., Vera, P., Gusmaroli, G., Muccitelli, S., Pozzi, C., Magaudda, S., … & Monti, F. (2021). Use of voluntary environmental contracts for wetland governance in the European Mediterranean region. Marine and Freshwater Research. https://doi.org/10.1071/MF21109