Day to day, conservation practitioners monitor ecosystems, reintroduce species, ensure respect for rules designed to limit human pressures, and cooperate with other users of the marine habitat.
However, these practitioners struggle to communicate their challenges, achievements and recommendations to national and regional decision-makers. This has a direct impact on the amount of funding allocated to conservation activities, which is often insignificant compared to the management costs. It also means that existing restrictive legislation doesn’t evolve to better support environmental protection.
Many of the same marine conservation problems arise from one region to another. Accordingly, conservation projects tend to cover the same topics, such as monitoring vulnerable species, reducing human pressures or co-managing MPAs with fishers.
Nevertheless, project leaders fail to coordinate with each other by sharing their results or expertise. This lack of communication has a knock-on effect on the efficiency and impact of conservation fieldwork.
As the funding currently allocated to marine conservation is not enough to respond to the sector’s challenges and needs, project leaders are constantly looking for new funding opportunities.
Foundations, government agencies, NGOs and businesses put out sporadic calls for proposals, and receive a great many applications in response. Among the most appealing projects, those involving multiple partners stand out for the added value they can bring in terms of pooled expertise and scientific knowledge, and complementary resources.
Together for the Med, a network of 50 Mediterranean marine conservation actors
In 2020, the MAVA Foundation, a major funder supporting Mediterranean conservation, entrusted BlueSeeds and the IUCN Med with the coordination and running of the secretariat for Together for the Med: a network of 50 marine conservation actors leading 18 projects working to reduce fishing pressures on Mediterranean biodiversity.
This coalition brings together NGOs, research bodies, private organisations, networks and foundations, all working in various ways to protect the region’s marine ecosystems.
Creating this network has generated a strong sense of solidarity among its members, who are now able to benefit from the progress made by other projects tackling the same issues. They can also exchange expertise and work together to identify solutions to common challenges.
The role of coordinating the Together for the Med secretariat also involves advocacy work aimed at communicating marine conservation challenges and recommendations to European and international political authorities. The IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation is leading on advocacy, while BlueSeeds has responsibility for strategic communications and fundraising.
In our secretarial capacity, we gather and share information.
BlueSeeds has been coordinating the network’s internal and external communications since 2020.
Internally, BlueSeeds has strengthened collaboration and information exchange among the partners by regularly circulating a newsletter, containing updates about members’ work as well as project funding opportunities.
Publicly, we promote the partnership’s work through Together for the Med’s website, using it to share the impact of our projects and our partners’ success stories. In particular, BlueSeeds coordinated the production of a documentary, The Sentinels of the Mediterranean. The film shines a light on three heroes of Mediterranean biodiversity protection, and perfectly captures the nature of Together for the Med’s fieldwork.
We have also ensured the partnership’s representation at key international events such as the IUCN World Conservation Congress, the UN Ocean Conference and COP15.
Fundraising: stronger together
BlueSeeds and the IUCN Med took over coordination of the network at the start of 2020, following the announcement that MAVA Foundation funding would end in October 2022. Besides strategic communications, the coordination role has involved developing new projects and providing fundraising support aimed at ensuring existing conservation activities could continue when the MAVA funding ceased.
With its partners, BlueSeeds has organised and facilitated a number of group workshops focused on helping the partners to identify the level of funding required to pursue their existing projects, and to draft concept notes to support funding applications for new collaborative projects.
We continue to support the network’s members in identifying suitable sources of funding by keeping watch for relevant calls for proposals and maintaining a directory of marine conservation donors.
To further promote the network’s project funding needs, BlueSeeds has produced an activity report highlighting the partnership’s work, which it presented at donor events such as the MAVA Donors’ Fair in Tunis.