In North African countries, capacity building programmes in protected areas (PAs) often focused on building certain individual skills and competencies. Over the past decades, hundreds of capacity building initiatives or activities have been implemented in support of protected areas management, but very little impact is observed. There are still significant gaps and unmet needs about improving the knowledge basis on PA management skills. In addition, very little attention has been paid to the institutional capacity of protected areas agencies and to the dire need for increasing dedicated managers and other professional staff in protected areas.
To answer these needs, IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation and the World Commission on Protected Areas recently launched an initiative in the five North African countries (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia) to undertake a proper assessment of capacity development needs and develop a capacity building strategy for North African protected Areas. The Propark Foundation has been assigned to conduct this study.
Following a large consultation process with the main stakeholders involved in protected areas management in the targeted countries, the draft results of the capacity needs assessment and the capacity building strategy were presented and discussed during a regional workshop held in Tunis, Tunisia on 27-28 March 2018. Participation to the workshop reiterated the importance of such approach and the need to design more focused and impactful capacity building programmes that could reach and cover all the staff and competencies levels related to protected areas.
During the workshop, three Strategic pillars were recommended so far for the strategy:
- Enabling environment for the professionalization of PA management,
- Individual capacity development, and
- Regional level coordination and support.
IUCN-Med and WCPA will be following up on these initial results to build an effective capacity development programme that responds to the needs of the region, and have already started contacts with some partners and donors to implement the strategy.
This action will further contribute to directions set by the Aichi target with a radically different approach in developing novel capacity building programmes and working with a more diverse set of stakeholders to effectively manage protected areas that conserve nature, enable sustainable development, and ensure flows of ecosystem services that support wider communities and economies.