The Barcelona Convention
The Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean adopted in 1995
In 1975, 16 Mediterranean countries and the European Community adopted the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP), the first-ever Regional Seas Programme under UNEP's umbrella.
In 1995, the Action Plan for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Sustainable Development of the Coastal Areas of the Mediterranean (MAP Phase II) was adopted by the Contracting Parties to replace the Mediterranean Action Plan of 1975.
Today, the Barcelona Convention and MAP are more active than ever. The Contracting Parties are now 22*, and they are determined to protect the Mediterranean marine and coastal environment while boosting regional and national plans to achieve sustainable development.
* Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, the European Community, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Slovenia, Spain, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey
The Convention's main objectives are:
- to assess and control marine pollution
- to ensure sustainable management of natural marine and coastal resources;
- to integrate the environment in social and economic development;
- to protect the marine environment and coastal zones through prevention and reduction of pollution, and as far as possible, elimination of pollution, whether land or sea-based;
- to protect the natural and cultural heritage;
- to strengthen solidarity among Mediterranean coastal States;
- to contribute to improvement of the quality of life.
The Barcelona Convention has given rise to seven Protocols addressing specific aspects of Mediterranean environmental conservation:
- Dumping Protocol (from ships and aircraft)
- Prevention and Emergency Protocol (pollution from ships and emergency situations)
- Land-based Sources and Activities Protocol
- Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity Protocol
- Offshore Protocol (pollution from exploration and exploitation)
- Hazardous Wastes Protocol
- Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM)
The Contracting Parties decide on MAP strategies, budget and programme in pursuit of MAP’s goal at their Ministerial level meetings, held every two years. They appoint Focal Points to review the progress of work and ensure the implementation of recommendations at the national level. A rotating Bureau of six representatives of the Contracting Parties guides and advises the MAP Secretariat (located in Athens) in the interim period between the biannual meetings.
MAP’s activities are primarily financed by the Contracting Parties through their contributions to the Mediterranean Trust Fund. Other main sources of funding to support specific projects and activities include voluntary contributions from the European Union, UN agencies, and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
Key MAP priorities for the coming decade are:
- to bring about a massive reduction in pollution from land-based sources;
- to protect marine and coastal habitats and threatened species;
- to make maritime activities safer and more conscious of the Mediterranean marine environment;
- to intensify integrated planning of coastal areas;
- to monitor the spreading of invasive species;
- to limit and intervene promptly on oil pollution.
- to further promote sustainable development in the Mediterranean region
Depolluting the Mediterranean Sea by 2020 (Horizon 2020)
Euro-Mediterranean governments aim to tackle the top sources of Mediterranean pollution by the year 2020 through the Horizon 2020 initiative that is built around 4 elements:
- Projects to reduce the most significant pollution sources focussing on industrial emissions, municipal wast e and urban waste water, responsible for up to 80% of pollution in the Mediterranean Sea
- Capacity-building measures to help neighbouring countries create national environmental administrations that are able to develop and police environmental laws.
- Using the Commission's Research budget to develop and share knowledge of environmental issues relevant to the Mediterranean.
- Developing indicators to monitor the success of Horizon 2020.
The initiative is open to all stakeholders and calls for the mobilisation of the necessary financial resources and the provision of technical support from all partners. All stakeholders are invited to work together to maximise assistance, exploit opportunities and meet the commitments of the timetable.
Further information can be found here.
- A project managed by the UNEP/MAP Coordinating Unit and co-financed by the EU has been finalised, contributing substantially to the implementation of the Ecosystem Approach that the Contracting Parties of the Barcelona Convention (and among them the EU) have agreed to implement in the Mediterranean. The Ecosystem Approach is compatible with EU environment policies, in particular the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive; the implementation of EU and broader Mediterranean policies for conservation and, where necessary, restoration, of the marine and coastal environment will be mutually supportive.
In the framework of the Strategic Cooperation Agreement (SCA) between the European Commission and UNEP, a follow up project is being carried out.
Under the same Agreement, UNEP/MAP has been awarded the overall coordination of the SWITCH Med policy programme to assist southern Mediterranean countries to further develop and implement sustainable patterns of consumption and production.