Short and Medium-Term Priority
Environmental Action Programme (SMAP)
1. The Euro-Mediterranean Conference which was held in Barcelona in November 1995 adopted a Declaration establishing a new Partnership between the European Union and 12 Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Partners. 1 Its overall objective is to contribute through enhanced and regular dialogue, free trade and co-operation, to guarantee peace, stability and prosperity in the region. Accordingly, the Euro-Med encompasses three different aspects: i) a strengthened political dialogue; ii) the development of economic and financial co-operation; iii) greater emphasis on the social, cultural and human dimension.
2. The sustainable development objective and its environmental dimension have been fully integrated in the new Euro-Mediterranean Partnership texts. Participants at the Conference emphasized their interdependence with regard to environment, the need for a regional approach, increased co-operation, better co-ordination of existing multilateral programmes. They recognised the importance of reconciling economic development with environmental protection, of integrating environmental concerns into the relevant aspects of economic policy and of mitigating the negative environmental consequences which might result. They confirmed their attachment to the Barcelona Convention and the Mediterranean Action Plan.
3. The Commission was entrusted in the Barcelona Declaration with the co-ordination of the preparation of a Short and Medium-term Priority Environmental Action Programme (SMAP). A participatory approach was foreseen with the involvement of all Partners in this preparation from the start, through meetings of Euro-Med environmental Correspondents, designated for this purpose within the relevant Environment Ministries. Consultations have also taken place, with the Mediterranean Action Plan ( MAP ) Co-ordination Unit, with METAP, major NGOs with activity in the region, and other relevant civil society organisations.
II. GUIDANCE FOR THE SMAP
1. As foreseen by the Barcelona Declaration, the Euro-Mediterranean Partners undertake to establish a short and medium-term priority action programme, including in connection with combatting desertification, and to concentrate appropriate technical and financial support on those actions. According to the Barcelona Work Programme, the main areas for action should include integrated management of water, soil and coastal areas, management of waste, prevention and combatting of air pollution and pollution of the sea, natural heritage, landscape and site conservation and management; Mediterranean forest protection, in particular through the prevention and control of erosion, soil degradation, forest fires and combatting desertification; the SMAP should also promote the transfer of Community experience in the field of financing techniques, legislation and environmental monitoring and integration of environmental concerns in all policies...
2. All interested Parties involved in the procedure, accepted unanimously the concept of a prioritisation approach for the Short and Medium-term Action Programme. The SMAP will :
- focus on a limited number of significant priority issues on which major efforts should be concentrated during the coming years ;
- create political incentives for all Mediterranean Partners and ensure that these issues are taken into account in the national programmes for MEDA funding or in other financial instruments existing within the Euro-Mediterranean framework;
- promote cross-sectoral support actions, including integration of environmental considerations into other policy areas.
3. Given the fact that all the issues mentioned in the Barcelona Work Programme are very important, it is understood that :
- prioritisation should not be interpreted as a judgement on the value of the different areas but as organisation of initiatives and actions over the time (since everything cannot be done at the same time and with the same concentration of efforts);
- possibilities of submitting projects on issues in addition to those included in the SMAP (priorities and supportive measures) exist if these projects are well prepared and they are aiming to cope with needs of particular importance for a certain Partner or region, always within the objectives set up by the Barcelona Declaration;
- a link with the longer term is firmly established from the outset (e.g. enhancing awareness, capacity building, transfer of appropriate technologies, training and education, approximation of legislation in a number of areas etc.);
- a review mechanism is foreseen as a part of the SMAP.
III. OBJECTIVES OF THE PROGRAMME
1. The Environment Programme within the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership is intended :
- to help to change the current trend of environmental degradation in the region, which continues despite major efforts by all Partners at national and regional levels;
- to contribute to the sustainable development of the region, to the protection of Mediterranean environment and to the improvement of the health and the living conditions of the population;
- to contribute to the further integration of environmental concerns in all other policies;
- to strengthen the coherence and secure synergies with existing multilateral programmes and legal instruments, in particular with the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP), the Barcelona Convention and its related Protocols and with METAP and the Global Environment Facility ( GEF ) - while respecting the specificity of each forum;
- to encourage North / South, South / South and North / South / South co-operation ;
- to contribute to creating new employment opportunities ;
- to ensure that, with the building-up of a Free Trade area, steps are taken from the start to highlight trade and environment issues, and that the respective policies are mutually supportive, paying due respect to the environmental commitments.
2. In this context, the SMAP has as particular objectives :
- to become the common basis for environmental purposes (policy orientation and funding) in the Mediterranean region, responding to national / regional needs and ensuring public support through wider consultation processes including civil society; at the same time, to appear attractive to other donors, investors and international financial institutions;
- to ensure a greater visibility of activities as well as transparency within this framework;
- to ensure a real positive impact, at least in some areas, mainly through prevention policies but also through remedial and rehabilitation programmes as necessary;
- to offer a better chance of financing programmes as well as individual projects;
- to give an additional support to the concerns of Environment Ministries or other competent authorities of the region in the context of national programming for MEDA;
- to increase the chances of getting more credits for the environment in the region than is currently the case, including from International Financial Institutions.
IV. CRITERIA AND REQUIREMENTS
1. The selection of the priority fields of action for the SMAP are based on the following criteria:
- issues having a regional or transboundary dimension;
- issues responding to national needs for the protection and rational /sustainable management of the environment in the region;
- issues having an impact on human health and quality of life;
- issues linked to serious deterioration of natural resources, in particular damage to eco-systems, soil, water and forests, as well as to the impact of oil spills on the marine and coastal environment ;
- issues with tangible contribution to the achievement of sustainable development in the region.
2. The SMAP, being a framework Programme, does not include specific criteria for individual programmes and projects. The latter should, however, in a general way, when related to priority issues, meet the following supplementary requirements as appropriate :
- be designed to give visible results within relative short time periods, thus contributing to the credibility of the overall exercise and encouraging Ministers/governments to commit themselves further;
- be established on the basis of an integrated planning and management approach;
- give due account to the results of Environmental Impact Assessment, which should be used wherever appropriate
- be based on environmentally sound techniques and practices appropriate for the region ;
- present a positive cost-effectiveness ratio;
- provide as much leverage as possible to attract supplementary funding by additional donors/investors.
3. To ensure its satisfactory implementation, the SMAP needs to be based on transparent procedures and to provide for close co-operation at all stages of all interested partners, especially local communities acting through their local authorities and representative organisations of civil society.
V. PRIORITY FIELDS OF ACTION
On the basis of the above indications and also taking into account the existing data and knowledge of the problems and work in other fora (notably in the context of MAP and MCSD), the following five fields of action are suggested, with the understanding that duplication with other relevant international instruments should be avoided and that coherence should always be sought. Two of these fields cover major sectoral issues ( water, wastes), one covers specific issues of an urgent nature ( hot spots ) while the fourth and fifth ones offer the opportunity of addressing intersectoral problems in an integrated way in specific - often sensitive or even vulnerable - geographical areas ( coastal management, desertification ). The important objective of protecting the biodiversity, having an intersectoral character, is dealt with under at least three of the selected fields of action.
1. Integrated Water management
The water sector is a key area for the protection of the environment and sustainable development in the Mediterranean. Water is a scarce and fragile resource, widely exploited and unequally distributed throughout the region. Therefore, supply aspects need to be taken seriously. Shortage, salinisation and overexploitation ( often for irrigation reasons ) leading to considerable losses, are different facets of an irrational use and management of this precious natural resource. Pollution and mismanagement of water can have negative effects on health, on economic development and on the overall protection of the environment in the region. It can lead to soil degradation, as well as to loss of precious wetlands and biodiversity.
In line with the approach established by the Marseilles Euro-Mediterranean Water Conference, action to promote sustainable water management must be based on a global and integrated approach capable of anticipating future problems and aiming at the increase and diversification of supply and the sustainable management of water demand. The Euro-Mediterranean information system on know-how in the water management sector, the establishment of which was decided by the Marseilles Water Conference, could be used to spread information on available water management techniques and new technologies.
The most urgent actions to be undertaken in this sector are :
- Evaluation and monitoring of water quality and quantity; assessment of potential (available and new) resources especially in critical areas ( ie , highly populated or with big seasonal increases of population, often due to tourism ).
- Establishment and implementation of programmes for the provision of safe drinking water, including the assessment of the micro-biological quality of drinking water supplies, and for waste water treatment systems in the Mediterranean, encouraging transfer of appropriate technology and know-how to this regard.
- Establishment and implementation of water conservation plans, including - as mentioned in the Marseilles Water Conference - water sluicing techniques, upstream soil saving and silt dredging.
- Protection of water reservoirs and wetlands and - where appropriate -establishment of river basin and catchment area management plans .
- Identification and use of measures and techniques for: (1) improved collection, treatment, disposal and re-use of municipal and industrial waste water, sludge and stormwater run-off , including the setting up of infrastructures for the treatment of urban sewage; (2) prevention of salinisation and treatment of brackish water.
- Establishment and implementation of programmes to tackle water losses - including rehabilitation of existing networks, leak detection, preventive maintenance, mapping and training - and development of techniques to reduce irrigation inputs.
- Encouragement of decentralised authorities ( e.g. river basin committees as appropriate, local bodies for water management, etc.), bringing together users and local communities on the basis of shared responsibilities, using appropriate measures to alter unsustainable water production and use patterns, with the aim of promoting the integrated local management of water.
- Reorganisation of the management of water resources leading, where appropriate, to the establishment of financially autonomous enterprises and other similar bodies with fully transparent management and cost-recovery mechanisms.
2. Waste management
Due to the combined pressure of industrial, touristic and demographic developments, and the concentration of populations and economic activities in urban and coastal areas, the waste problem is becoming a major concern. Regardless its nature (domestic, industrial, hazardous etc , liquid or solid), it is generating health problems and unpleasant living conditions and is hampering sustainable development. Actions - often of a preventive character - with tangible results could be completed within reasonable timespans, with the aim of contributing efficiently to a sustainable management of wastes, including reduction of their volume, recycling or reuse, safe transfer and appropriate treatment.
The most urgent actions to be undertaken in this sector are:
- Preparation and implementation of national plans, data bases and pilot projects for the integrated management ( including collection systems, treatment plants and safe disposal ) of (a) municipal waste, (b) industrial waste, and (c) hazardous waste.
- Preparation of guidelines for more effective waste management, including authorisation procedures;
- Establishment of comparable statistical methodologies and national waste inventories in order to make qualitative and quantitative estimates of existing waste production in the Mediterranean region and ensure better collection and waste processing activities.
- Identification of waste disposal methods and sites presenting a risk for the environment (such as unauthorised landfills, open-air burning, uncontrolled dumping into water etc) and setting up infrastructures and taking measures to tackle these problems.
- Launching of initiatives to promote waste reduction, re-use and recycling, including the promotion of production techniques covering the entire life-cycle of the product as well as the identification and implementation of appropriate market mechanisms (incentives, etc.) for recovered products.
- Reinforcement of local management capacity and promotion of pilot initiatives to tackle systematically waste from tourism-related activities.
- Preparation of national guidelines for the disposal of dredging spoils and used oils.
3. Hot Spots
In many areas, pollution and environmental degradation is such that immediate action should be undertaken. Each Partner will be free, within a broad understanding of the concept, to designate one or several priority Hot Spots (urgent problems in urban areas, industrial sites, or sensitive natural areas...).
Programmes and projects should reflect an integrated approach for remediation of the situation. To this end, the appropriate use of all relevant material and guidance stemming from work carried out within the MAP, the Mediterranean Commission for Sustainable Development ( MCSD ) and other international fora is encouraged.
The most urgent actions to be undertaken in this sector could be:
- Establishment of emergency environmental plans for the integrated management of highly polluted Mediterranean urban areas, including the management of energy and transport systems, development and implementation of specific programmes to reduce air pollution , protection of green areas.
- Development and implementation of specific emergency programmes to reduce highly polluting emissions in industrial areas, using an integrated approach and aiming to avoid cross-media pollution to the greatest possible extend. Where appropriate, Best Available Techniques (BAT) might be used.
- Setting up and implementation of management plans, pilot projects and demonstration actions, including appropriate institutional and organisational arrangements, to secure the future of the most valuable and threatened natural resources; priority will be given to ecosystems and notably wetlands of mediterranean or even international importance, to areas designated within international agreements for the protection of species in the Mediterranean region and to the protection of vulnerable biodiversity elements.
- Development and implementation of pilot projects and demonstration actions for the sustainable use and management of biodiversity and of natural resources.
4. Integrated coastal zone management
More than 50 % of the Mediterranean countries population is concentrated on the coastline. More than 30 % of the world tourism is attracted in the Mediterranean region, while there are strong trends of further increase for the next years. Existing pressures due to human activities cause enormous damage to coastal eco-systems and landscapes. Irrational practices also cause pollution problems in marine waters.
Much knowledge has been acquired in the Mediterranean region about this type of situation and there is growing awareness of the need to tackle it before it is too late. Yet, inter-institutional problems still hamper the sound and efficient management of the coastal environment.
The most urgent actions to be undertaken in this sector are:
- Development and implementation of appropriate national or demonstration plans, data bases and legislative and technical measures to promote the integrated management of coastal zones, including their sustainable urban and industrial development, based on a sustainable, multidisciplinary and preventive approach. Where appropriate, use of techniques such as remote sensing and the Geographical Information System (GIS) for more complete mapping of the situation. Promotion of interactions and co-ordination among different policies and actors involved, including users,through relevant information networks where appropriate.
- Preparation of studies on carrying capacity for the major development projects.
- Support for the sustainable development of tourism areas, as well as for the rehabilitation of other environmentally sensitive areas where tourism has already developed
- Development and implementation of plans for the conservation and management of Mediterranean biodiversity, with special emphasis on coastal ecosystems including where appropriate the protection of threatened marine species, as well as support to environmentally sound initiatives of Fisheries Ministers.
- Setting up of Port Reception Facilities for treatment of liquid and solid waste, generated by ships.
- Development and implementation of national and sub-regional plans to combat accidental oil spills from ships, including the establishment of oil spills response centres, given the serious impact of the problem on the coastal zones and the marine environment.
- Identification of appropriate methodologies, promotion of national and local initiatives and development of integrated pilot projects to protect coastal zones from erosion and degradation. To the same end, development of pilot projects and demonstration actions at local level for the promotion of sustainable agricultural and silvicultural practices. Development of pilot projects for the restoration of damaged soils and plant cover.
- Development and implementation of national and sub-regional emergency plans to prevent and combat forest fires, using early detection systems, identifying user needs and promoting further development of the existing know-how and techniques. Where appropriate, satellite monitoring of forest fires might be used, on a broader scale.
- Development and implementation of integrated environmental management plans and sustainable development programmes for Mediterranean islands.
- Elaboration of Good Practice Guidelines for Integrated Coastal Zones Management, taking due account of the already existing relevant work carried out within different international fora.
- Support for national and local authorities for the implementation of strategies for action to prevent and combat pollution from marine and land-based sources and activities. Where appropriate, satellite monitoring of marine and coastal pollution might be used.
- Support for national and local authorities for the implementation of actions and pilot projects for the prevention, reduction and control of marine and coastal litter, in particular of persistent synthetic materials.
5. Combatting Desertification
It is widely recognized nowadays that combatting desertification is urgent. This problem is very closely linked to integrated soil, plant cover and water managenent, and its expansion is threatening not only the biodiversity, including natural habitats, but also the sustainability of the production of basic goods for human life. Desertification aspects related to climate changes should be dealt with within long-term perspective frameworks.
The complexity of the issue implies appropriate planning, concrete actions and an integrated management approach. Combatting desertification will be a long-term process, but there is need for urgent action. The present SMAP will contribute to this end through pilot projects and demonstration actions, through the development and implementation of appropriate local, regional and national action plans, as well as through actions under the other selected priority areas.
Such actions and projects should aim at :
- maintaining or promoting sustainable agriculture practices ( i.e., correct ways of ploughing and irrigating, avoiding misuse of fertilisers and pesticides, etc );
- mitigating drought effects, increasing water availability where possible by using appropriate harvesting techniques and preventing salinisation of soils;
- preventing as much as possible and combatting the forest fires, while at the same time protecting the existing forest ecosystems and encouraging appropriate reforestation;
- combatting erosion and sand dunes deposit;
- offering incentives to local population concerned to avoid abandoning of the agricultural land;
- promoting changes of attitude and participatory processes, in particular of farmers, stock-breeders and other interested social groups;
- ensuring appropriate data collection and analysis, vulnerable areas or important parameters monitoring and exchange of relevant information and experience;
- encouraging appropriate adaptation of institutional and legislative provisions.
VI. SUPPORTIVE MEASURES AND LINK WITH THE LONG TERM
SMAP should develop a new dynamic by giving a major impulse at the national level to initiatives in the priority areas. Obviously, some activities will have to be pursued beyond the short and medium-term frame, while others scheduled for the long term would need appropriate preparation in advance. Thus, a clear link with the longer-term should be part of the SMAP from the outset, in order to ensure continuation of efforts, to avoid counterproductive developments in related sectors and to ensure that longer-term objectives can be met. Actions necessary to bring about this link in the long-term should be considered within this Programme from the start and be developed in particular in the following areas :
- promotion of the use of Environmental Impact Assessment as an instrument of preventive policy for projects, programmes and plans to be carried out within the different development sectors, including in cases of transboundary projects;
- awareness enhancement (campaigns, information activities, documentation centres);
- capacity building, including consolidation of the environmental agencies in the mediterranean countries;
- partnership building, including civil society involvement and public / private co-operation;
- education and training (special programmes should be developed at regional and national level for training project managers and training in financing techniques);
- transfer of appropriate and environmentally sound technologies and know-how including maintainance, where necessary, contributing inter alia to a sustainable industrial conversion; encouragement of local / regional initiatives to develop appropriate techniques;
- networking : promotion of North/South, South/South and North/South/South co-operation, developing relations and exchanges among governments, local authorities and civil society organisations, such as NGOs, universities, industrial organisations, etc.
- promotion of the use of Internet to facilitate communications and to make the environmental information easily accessible to the public;
- establishment of sustainable development indicators, evaluation/performance indicators and environmental monitoring;
- support for the implementation of obligations resulting from relevant international instruments;
- promotion of adoption and implementation of legislation and regulatory measures when required, in particular of preventive measures and of appropriate environmental standards, in order to up-grade the environment in the region and to contribute to the economic development and to the establishment of an environmentally sustainable Free Trade area.
- collection and distribution of information and exchange of experiences, as well as development of guidelines for planning, especially as regards major issues such as the protection of biodiversity, combating desertification and integrated management of coastal zones, with the aim of facilitating appropriate concrete demonstration projects to deal with problems in specific areas.
VII. FUNDING OF ACTIONS
As stated in the Barcelona Declaration, the Partners will undertake to concentrate appropriate technical and financial support on these actions. The first responsibility for the practical implementation in this context lies with the Mediterranean Partners themselves.
In view of the seriousness of the environmental problems faced by the region, the partners will give greater priority to environmental actions within the Euro-Mediterranean
Partnership and undertake to mobilise increased resources to this end. The MEDA instrument will be an important catalyst for mobilising these resources. Furthermore, particular attention will be given to the development of horizontal supportive activities , such as training and capacity building.
For its part, the European Union is fully prepared to give support to the Programme, according to the rules of existing financial sources, in particular the MEDA instrument.
Furthermore, with the aim of supporting the Unions co-operation policies in non-Member countries, the EIB intends to continue expanding its contribution to initiatives in the Mediterranean and assisting projects with a high environmental input. The Bank is prepared to help putting together financial packages comprising loans to assist environmental actions at local and regional scale. An important contribution can be also made through interest rate subsidies on EIB loans for environmental projects.
Partners also express their interest in getting other donors and investors, at bilateral and multilateral levels, to contribute to the same objectives and related actions.
VIII. FOLLOW-UP MECHANISM
- Creation of a Network of SMAP Correspondents, designated by competent Ministers of participating countries. Co-ordination will be ensured by the European Commission. Meetings will take place once a year (possibility of organising supplementary meetings when necessary).
- Establishment of a regular reporting system : a yearly Report on Implementation by each Partner. These Reports should be the basis for discussion at the annual Correspondents meeting.
- Provision for a review mechanism, after two years, in order to check that the Programme is on the right track and to make the necessary adjustments. The review should be made by the SMAP Correspondents and coordinated by the European Commission. Any necessary adjustments to the Programme would be submitted for adoption at ministerial level.
- In consultation with the Mediterranean Partners and on the basis of experience gained from environmental activities and projects/programmes in the region, the European Commission will prepare an interim report and a more detailed programme of regional activities. These documents will contribute to the preparation of the review of the SMAP and its further implementation.
- Provision for consultation practices, allowing also civil society organisations (including NGOs) to contribute to the implementation of SMAP, the assessment of results and any necessary modifications before decisions are made.
- Discussion on implementation of SMAP by the Partners whenever they meet at ministerial level.
1 Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus, Malta and the Palestinian Authority