I was eight or nine. My father’s hobby was early morning hiking. At first I found it hard but slowly I discovered more about the forest, and started to understand what nature could be in the life of a person.

(c) IUCN-Med

Small is beautiful

Today a humble champion for the people, gastronomy and biodiversity of North Africa, Maher’s ability to nurture a still young civil society born of the Arab Spring, and pilot fruitful collaboration with a historically bureaucratic public sector is unique.

Twelve years with Tunisia’s Ministry of the Environment laid a strong foundation for Maher’s current role with IUCN partnering NGOs and governments across the Maghreb. In addition to this important coordination role, supporting new civil society organisations eager for positive change through Programme de Petites Initiatives pour les Organisations de la Société Civile d’Afrique du Nord (PPI-OSCAN) is especially close to his heart.

Helping people in remote rural Morocco or unstable parts of Libya is a privilege. Having never had the opportunity to shape their future before, their will to succeed against the odds is tremendous.

A partnership between MAVA, IUCN-Med, and Fonds Français pour l’Environnement Mondial (FFEM), PPI OSCAN supports conservation, sustainable resource use and climate mitigation in Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia until end 2017. Offering grants from €10-30,000 up to two years in duration, it specialises in helping emerging NGOs who are often undertaking their first formative projects by improving their governance and ability to negotiate with government.

Building bridges, bringing hope

The Maghreb’s prosperity depends on nature but neither public authorities nor civil society can deliver sustainable development alone. Success requires humility, collaboration, shared learning, and what Maher calls a ‘gathering of power’.

mastic oil extraction (c) PPIOSCAN

Having worked as civil servant and with NGOs, I know both worlds well, and can bridge between them. I’m a chameleon! Most of all, I want to bring hope by helping people rely on themselves.

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Boosting civil society

A vibrant civil society sector is prerequisite for effective conservation. Maher and PPI OSCAN are a good example of how small grants can make a huge difference. Read more about MAVA’s work on this subject.

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