Sustainable livelihoods in North Africa and East Mediterranean

Ecotourisme Jbel Kelti, Parc National de Talassemtane

Support to the conservation and management of natural resources in arid and semi-arid lands


Although the situation is highly heterogeneous, globally, most of the area of North African and eastern Mediterranean countries is occupied by arid and semiarid zones highly vulnerable to major constraints for development of agriculture. Unsustainable use of agricultural and livestock resources in these areas has a direct impact on the environment (desertification process irreversible degradation of soil and its ecosystem) and the standard of living of the rural population, with a human desertification process, with population exodus to big cities, coastal areas and outside the country.

There has been an important historical development in these countries of traditional knowledge that has been used since antiquity for preventing and combating land degradation and controlling desertification processes and socio-economic derivatives. At present, people are suffering the effects of desertification and climate change, supporting significant economic losses and poverty. The current governance structures and mechanisms are one of the main causes that increase both the degradation of the ecosystem and the livelihood insecurity.

IUCN-Med's role

Arid zones and safety is a priority within the IUCN Programme, where previous work at regional level has been implemented. With the new global challenges - climate change, food security issues, migration ... - affecting the Mediterranean countries, IUCN - along with its members and partners - has broadened the scope of this work to provide tools and solutions to help reduce its effects, especially by linking conservation with economic development and social welfare.

Objectives and results

This action programme is divided into four projects with different outcomes:

P1: Planning of uses and management practices of natural resources in semi-arid areas of North Africa, creating benefits to sustainable development and local communities’ livelihoods. Main outcomes:

  • The agro-pastoral practices assessed and valued to ensure security and food self-sufficiency of local communities.
  • Local communities benefit from ecosystem services, ensuring proper maintenance of its operation.
  • Sustainable management practices of semi-arid ecosystems in Algeria and Tunisia are agreed and the market for their products is reinforced and expanded.  

P2: Analysis of the impacts, conservation and ecological restoration methods of coastal sand dunes systems in Algeria. Main outcomes:

  • Solutions to reverse the impacts and recover important dune systems in Algeria are agreed by main actors concerned.
  • Approaches and methodologies for the conservation and restoration of dune systems are developed based on similar Spanish experiences.
  • A pilot ecological restoration of the dunes in a pilot area has been launched.
  • Experts in forest management, research centers, NGOs and local people have been trained in best restoration practices and management of dune systems.
  • The Spanish experience and lessons from the field in Algeria transferred to other countries of North Africa. 

P3: Integration of biodiversity and energy efficiency aspects in the tourist sector in North Africa, with contribution to sustainable development of local communities. Main outcomes:

  • Actions with tourism stakeholders in the region and implementation of available tools: IUCN and WWF guides and analysis of impacts / European Charter of Sustainable Tourism.
  • The concept of biodiversity and sustainable tourism is integrated with tourist practices.
  • The local communities near projects sites benefit from the economic rewards of the industry and are able to maintain biodiversity sustainably.

P4: Young professionals’ empowerment for the promotion of sustainable development in the Mediterranean. Main outcomes:

  • Young people in North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean acquire the necessary knowledge and tools to act against the challenges of conservation in the region.
  • Innovation and enthusiasm are promoted among young leaders to ensure sustainable conservation solutions for the region.
  • Young leaders have an opportunity to express their concerns and views regarding conservation and sustainable development.

Target Partners

  1. IUCN members in North Africa and the Mediterranean.
  2. Regional organizations: UNESCO.
  3. National Institutions: Commissariat National du Littoral and General Directorate of forests in Algeria, Moroccan High Commission of Water and Forests and DesertificationMinistry of Environment and Agriculture of Tunisia
  4. NGOs: Association Ecologique de Boumerdes (AEB), Association Tunisienne de Développement Durable et de Protection de la Faune Sauvage, Mohamned VI Foundation for the protection of the Environment (FM6E)
  5. IUCN Commissions and programmes: Environmental Law Programme, IUCN Regional Office for West Asia.
  6. AECID / OTC
  7. Relevant private sector companies.


Ministry of Foreign Affairs- Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AECID).

Duration and budget

Started January 2010 

The duration of each component of the programme varies depending on the project.

Total budget: 469.900 €

For more information: [email protected]

IUCN-Med receives core financial support from the Ministry of Environment of the Junta de Andalucia, the Ministry of Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) among others.

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