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.
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.
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.
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
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).
MEET Manual - step-by-step guide to developing ecotourism with the MEET approach (static1.squarespace.com/static/5b07c60a96e76f9f641cdad6/t/5db2fd4c98002f2cfe53a030/1572011372292/MEET_manual_2019.pdf). Ecological Footprint Calculator - tool for measuring the Ecological Footprint of the ecotourism packages developed in and around the protected area (www.meetnetwork.org/calculator). MEET catalogue - our portfolio of ecotourism products (www.meetnetwork.org/meet-guide). MEET Website - find out more about MEET and subscribe to our newsletter(www.meetnetwork.org/). MEET Online Trainings - available on www.conservationtraining.org
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.
SDGS & Targets
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Deliverables & Timeline
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Key Stakeholders (Founding Members, Board and Members, Ambassadors) You can find the names of our protected area members on www.meetnetwork.org/our-members Partners and Board: IUCN Mediterranean; Al Shouf Biosphere Reserve, MedPAN, Global Footprint Network, Travel Foundation, Small Islands Organisation (SMILO), MEET Network Ambassadors Beneficiaries Protected Areas Local Communities Communities Local Tour Operators Conservation organisations Destination Management Organisations Local and Regional Authorities (policymakers) Tourists