Committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions-Silva Mediterranea
Over 90 years of Mediterranean forest management
Social innovation in Forests
Social Innovation in Forests, organized during the 6th Mediterranean Forest Week by SEEDS-Int and Efimed, took place on Tuesday April 2nd 2019 and focused on providing a clear understanding of Social Innovation (SI) in the Mediterranean forests including key indicators and real case studies from the region. Social Innovation in Marginalized Rural Areas (SIMRA) is a four-year project (2016-2020) funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020. SIMRA aims at identifying and mapping the key variables that are desirable for SI occurrence. It seeks to identify success and failure cases, and develop methods for their appraisal and assessment.
SI aims to increase human wellbeing, responding to social demands that markets or existing institutions do not traditionally address. Through SI, diverse actors, including civil society, entrepreneurs, and policy makers, create or reconfigure social arrangements or networks with the goal of enhancing development outcomes with respect to the economy, the society, and the environment.
Bassam Kantar, a journalist and researcher, conducted a study analyzing SI occurrence in Lebanon. He concluded that innovative initiatives in Lebanon do exist but are not sufficiently recognized, and that current Lebanese laws do not account for SI as a defined state of social development - though practices are socially innovative.
Analyzed case studies showed that SI initiatives can be formalized through policies and regulations, or scaled out to other areas and contexts where they can be successfully replicated.
The above mentioned are some of the key messages discussed during the session on Social Innovation in Forests. The session also presented examples of SI from the Mediterranean region, and these are: Cities4Forests, the National Tree Planting Programme, the Marketing Analysis and Development approach for Non Wood forest product marketing in Tunisian forests.
The National Tree Planting Program (NTPP) initiative from Lebanon is one of the case studies featured and presented by the founders Mrs. Emilie Feghali and Mrs. Nadine Abi Saab.
The NTPP is led by a group of concerned citizens, three women, who wish to contribute to the nation’s environmental protection efforts by the Lebanese government and by the private sector for the benefit of the environment and, most importantly, that of future generations. Among other matters, Lebanon’s current alarming environmental situation and its weak reforestation efforts contributed to the design of the NTPP.
The proposed initiative aims at engaging the Lebanese youth in a sustainable tree-planting program that would ensure the continuous reforestation of lands across Lebanon while providing them with a unique experience for graduation. Furthermore it seeks to engage them in the protection of their environment by the creation of a self-funded sustainable program, in which they would participate once in their school life and a second time in their university life. Not only would they contribute to their schools/universities, but they would also mobilize their communities in activities that would help raise funds to cover reforestation activities.
These three women are aiming to implement a three-year Pilot Project, to test the viability of the NTPP, defining its framework for partnerships and collaboration between different stakeholders, the mechanisms of implementation, the timelines, the resource requirements, and finally the measures of success.
In conclusion and as mentioned by Valentino Marini Govigli, “Social innovation can be key for supporting the Mediterranean Forests. Nonetheless, flexible frameworks are needed to provide evidence of what is feasible to support practitioners and policy makers in assisting SI initiatives. As these cases make clear, local actors should be supported in sharing information and best practices, and to achieve funding lines in order to strengthen existing embryos of SI into long-term, successful initiatives.”
Patricia R. Sfeir, Valentino Govigli, Bassam Kantar, Berna Karam, Riccardo Da Re - SEEDS-int