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Our Oceans, Seas and Coasts

International Cooperation


One of the key objectives of the Marine Directive is to contribute to the fulfilment of international commitments by both the European Union (EU) and the Member States in the field of protection of marine waters.

Many of the concepts and approaches used by the Directive for the EU’s marine waters, such as the ecosystem and integrated approach, have actually originated from international fora and agreements.

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The Directive specifically refers to a number of instruments it aims to contribute to:

  • The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS): UNCLOS provides the legal framework for contemporary principles of protection of the marine environment, including the ecosystem based approach, the precautionary approach and sustainable development.
  • The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD): The CBD aims to halt biodiversity loss, ensuring the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity, and to create a global network of marine protected areas (MPAs) by 2012 (see box on MPAs).
  • The Regional Seas Conventions (RSC): The RSC are cooperation structures set up to protect the marine environment of a specific marine region.

  • The Directive also contributes to international policy initiatives relating to protection of the marine environment. In particular, it contributes to the fulfilment of commitments taken at major summits, such as:

  • The Rio Declaration and the Agenda 21 adopted at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio
  • The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation adopted at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.


On 20-22 June 2012 the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) will meet in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, marking the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Earth Summit and the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development.

This major event, referred to as Rio+20 Earth Summit, will aim to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assess the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development, and address new and emerging challenges. Oceans will be one the seven critical themes identified for discussion at Rio + 20. In particular, the sustainable management of oceans, the conservation of ocean resources and the development of a “blue economy” will be major topics of discussion.

Cooperation with UNEP

2018 Roadmap on Healthy, Productive and Resilient Oceans-United Nations Environment Programme-European Commission


Marine Protected Areas

One of the main objectives of the Marine Directive is that the decline of biodiversity caused by human activities is prevented and that biodiversity is protected (see Descriptor 1).

To achieve that, one measure that Member States should take is the establishment of a network of Marine Protected Areas, thus contributing to one of the key objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity: the creation of a global network of marine protected areas.

The project "IMPROVING THE ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY OF THE BLACK SEA THROUGH BETTER WASTE WATER TREATMENT & CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION OF THE WATER SECTOR IN MOLDOVA", co-sponsored by the EU and the OECD/EAP Task Force was recently finalised. It aimed to improve the water quality of the Black Sea basin, and health situation in Moldova and downstream through strengthening Moldova’s capacity to adapt its water policies and infrastructures to climate change (focusing on water quality) and developing a business model for sustainable sanitation in rural areas, villages and small urban settlements in Moldova. It was complementary to the EU-funded Sector Policy Support Programme for the water sector in Moldova, especially concerning institutional reform at central and local level and strategy updating and effective sector management.

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