United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

MEET Network

    Description
    Intro

    The MEET Network is an association of Mediterranean Protected Areas, established in 2018. MEET is primarily a multi-stakeholder platform for the promotion and development of ecotourism, connecting protected area managers with local tourism stakeholders through exchange, capacity building, advocacy and sustainability monitoring tools. It aims to mitigate the environmental impacts of mass-tourism on nature in the Mediterranean Region by promoting ecotourism based on local, natural and socio-cultural values, benefiting both Protected Areas and the local communities who live in, and around them.

    Description

    MEET Network aims to realise the potential of ecotourism in the Mediterranean, transforming PAs into viable destinations pursuing environmental and socio-economic objectives. To achieve these aims, MEET Network has developed and tested a model for ecotourism development prioritising: Cross-sector collaboration between tourism and public conservation sectors through the creation of Local Ecotourism Clusters. Measuring and monitoring the ecological, socio-economic and conservation impacts of ecotourism offers through established methodologies and tools. Supporting commercialisation and marketing of ecotourism in PA destinations to ensure majority-profit goes directly back to the park and local communities. Developed capacity-building tools, including an online training platform to widespread its methodologies and disseminate best practices.

    Contribution to SDG Implementation

    Local Ecotourism Clusters (LEC) supports SDGs 14 and 15 through the promotion of sustainable tourism management practices in marine and terrestrial areas. MEET´s standard and calculator to measure the ecological impact of ecotourism responds to SDG Goal 12.b. In alignment with SDGs 14.7, and 8 MEET helps Protected Areas to reach target markets, ensuring that economic gain goes directly back to the destination. Developed Capacity building tools support goals 11 and 12, by raising awareness of sustainability between the local services providers and the local community.

    Implementation methodologies

    The MEET model has been developed through three conservation projects: MEET, DestiMED and DestiMED Plus, building on solid partnerships between experienced conservation organizations committed to shaping the Mediterranean as an exemplary ecotourism destination. The MEET approach for ecotourism has been tested in more than 46 protected area destinations in the last 5 years, which has allowed for refining the methods and tools used. This partnership has created a pool of expertise within MEET to support protected area destination managers, including: MEET Manual: This is a step-by-step guide for the MEET ecotourism development model including guidelines for itinerary design, managing quality and sustainability, strengthening of local governance, reduction of environmental impact, strengthening of local governance through meaningful partnerships with the private sector, and working toward common objectives and opportunities. MEET Online Trainings: MEET recently launched two online training modules which support the guidance in the MEET Manual. The online training focuses on the ecotourism product development process and how to measure the Ecological Footprint of the product, to train interested stakeholders and potential members. This new online tool is free to use and can be found on www.conservationtraining.org. Ecological Footprint Calculator: The calculator is a key part of the measuring and monitoring element of the approach. It is freely available on-line for all protected areas to use. As mentioned above MEET has also developed an online training to support the use of this tool. MEET catalogue: The MEET catalogue was finalized for the season 2020/2021 and being promoted B2B in international fora (ATTA, ITB, WTM) and individually by MEET and the commercial partners.

    Results

    Tested and Adaptable Sustainable Solution: MEET has worked with over 90 policymakers and its highly replicable model has been implemented and tested in 46 parks. The model makes destinations more resilient in the long-term to crises and global changes such as COVID-19. Methodology for Evidencing Sustainability of Tourism: The ability to measure and monitor tourism impacts through MEET´s standard and tools ensure that the destination´s ecosystems are reinforced and valorised. It aligns with goals 14, 12, 14 and 15, by providing reliable information and monitoring tools to protect local ecosystems. Promotion of Sustainable Practices: MEET´s Local Ecotourism Cluster structure leads to knowledge-exchange, capacity building and conflict resolution between usually opposing sectors. It raises awareness on the socio-ecological benefits of well-managed sustainable tourism. This aligns with SDG Goals 8, 11 and 12. Through the MEET catalogue, around 11 packages are currently promoted to the market.

    Factors and Constraints

    Enabling Conditions: Project seed Funding Support and partnerships with large organisations Existing methodology for measuring ecological impacts of tourism Grassroots participatory process Implementation Constraints: Lack of internal resources beyond projects Lack of long term investment in ecotourism development at destination level Challenges with work effectiveness in Local Ecotourism Clusters Challenges with product quality and market access Innovations: Ecological Footprint Calculator MEET Network Ecotourism Approach and Standard Market orientation and commercialization support Online Trainings on product development and monitoring

    Sustainability and replicability

    MEET is run by its Board, member organisations, protected areas and MEET Ambassadors, all of whom are experts in their respective fields. This collaboration opens up opportunities for the MEET model to be replicated across the Mediterranean. MEET is currently participating in the Interreg-Med DestiMED PLUS project which will support the implementation of MEET´s model in a further nine protected areas. MEET has established commercial partnerships with large destination management organisations, invested in the promotion and sale of its ecotourism experiences. MEET´s open-access online training is fully accessible by protected areas’ managers and tourism experts. Finally, the methodology behind MEET´s Ecotourism Footprint calculator has generated interest from organisations who see it as a potential baseline for monitoring the environmental impacts of other types of tourism (i.e., beyond the niche eco-tourism market).

    COVID-19 Impact

    MEET´s model is resilient to global change and crises. On a commercial level, following COVID-19, MEET Network was forced to rethink its strategy, by moving away from its focus on long-haul tourism markets, now it solely targets the closer, northern European markets. By promoting proximity travel, MEET aligns with sustainability principles and its ecotourism products carry a lower environmental cost. MEET has also converted its capacity building services to an online learning format, by developing a free online training to guide the process of implementation of the model and it plans to develop several more online modules over the coming year. This has allowed MEET to reach a wider global audience and reduce the team's Ecological Footprint due to a lower necessity for travel.

    Contact Name
    Carla
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    Organization/entity
    MEET Network
    SDGs
    Geographical coverage

    The MEET Network operates across all the Mediterranean basin, including Portugal and Jordan. It acts at both sub-national and local level, collaborating with regional administrations, Protected Areas, the private sector and local communities.

    Timeline
    01 January 2018 (start date)
    30 June 2022 (date of completion)
    More information
    Countries
    Spain
    Spain
    Partnership
    N/A
    Contact Information

    Carla, Ecosystem Resilience and Spatial Planning Manager