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REST-COAST and the Evaluation of Governance of Pilot Sites: A Comparison with the Maristanis Case Study

The Horizon 2020 program, named REST-COAST, is dedicated to the large-scale restoration of coastal ecosystems through the connectivity of rivers to the sea. With over 40 international partners, including MEDSEA, the project has taken a leading role in evaluating and comparing governance practices at various pilot sites(9 in total, see pilot sites) in relation to the restoration activities planned at these sites.  

Among the preliminary kick-off activities was precisely the knowledge test of the governance model of each pilot site through a specific evaluation framework. The experience of the MEDSEA Foundation in terms of governance within the Maristanis project, through the Contract of the coastal wetland areas of Oristanese, was included in the evaluation of the state of governance within the REST-COAST project, even though Oristano is not among the pilot sites. The Wetland Contract tool is a voluntary instrument that involves 11 municipalities of the Oristanese, signed in 2021, which committed the Contract Coordination group to discuss issues related to the sustainable and unitary management of the wetlands of Oristanese. 


The evaluation framework adopted by REST-COAST is based on nine key criteria: 

  • Governance Structure 
  • Inclusive and effective decision-making 
  • Recognition of ownership rights 
  • Diversity of knowledge, cultures, and institutions 
  • Devolution 
  • Strategic vision 
  • Coordination and coherence 
  • Responsibility 
  • Conflict and complaint resolution 


These criteria provide a quantitative measure of governance performance at each pilot site. By visualizing the governance criteria using the standard IUCN NbS methodology, it is possible to identify areas of governance that need improvement. This helps pilot sites recognize their best practices to replicate, areas that need strengthening, and deviations from the optimal state of governance that require significant efforts for improvement. 


In comparison, the case of Oristano was considered as a complex governance model that applies a very specific governance model, such as the voluntary contract approach. 


The main objective of this framework is twofold: on one hand, to self-assess the state of governance of the pilot sites to identify strengths and weaknesses to address; on the other hand, to direct priorities and action lines to ensure the successful completion of the restoration activities of each pilot site. 



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