Regions and network

UNEPGEFUniversity of Kalmar
Subregion 21: Mediterranean Sea

  • Major intergovernmental agreements and actors
  • Action programmes, strategies, and research
  • State of the regional environment
  • GEF Projects in the region
  • Other actors and initiatives

    Major intergovernmental agreements and actors

    Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean
    Barcelona Convention, adopted in 1976, in force 1978; revised in Barcelona in 1995 as the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean (not yet in force). Revised text (1995)

    The objective of the Convention is to achieve international co-operation for a co-ordinated and comprehensive approach to the protection and enhancement of the marine environment and the coastal region of the Mediterranean area. A Mediterranean Action Plan was adopted in 1975 (see below). Coordinating body is the Secretariat of the Barcelona Convention. Protocols to the Convention include:

    • Protocol for the Prevention and Elimination of Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by Dumping from Ships and Aircraft (Dumping Protocol); adopted in 1976, in force in 1978, revised in in 1995 as the Protocol for the Prevention and Elimination of Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by Dumping from Ships and Aircraft or Incineration at Sea. Revised text (1995)
    • Protocol Concerning Cooperation in Combating Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by Oil and other Harmful Substances in Cases of Emergency (Emergency Protocol); adopted in 1976, in force in 1978.
    • Protocol for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution from Land-Based Sources (LBS Protocol); adopted in 1980, in force in 1983, amended in 1996 as the Protocol for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities. Amended text.
    • The Protocol Concerning Mediterranean Specially Protected Areas (SPA Protocol); adopted in 1982, in force in 1986, revised in 1995 as the Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean (SPA and Biodiversity Protocol). Revised text.
    • The Protocol for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution Resulting from Exploration and Exploitation of the Continental Shelf and the Seabed and its Subsoil (Offshore Protocol); adopted in 1994.
    • The Protocol on the Prevention of Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (Hazardous Wastes Protocol); adopted in 1996, not yet in force.

    Regional Activity Centres
    The various activities to be implemented by the Mediterranean Action Plan (see below), under the overall coordination of the Coordinating Unit, are carried out by the Regional Activity Centres (RAC). More information on the MAP Regional Activity Centres.

    See the Blue Plan RAC (for the socio-economic approach to the environment developed by the Blue Plan) and the Specially Protected Areas RAC (RAC/SPA; established by the contracting Parties to the Barcelona convention and its protocols with the aim of assisting Mediterranean countries with the implementation of the Protocol concerning specially protected areas in the Mediterranean).

    General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean
    Established in 1949 (International agreement under aegis of FAO, amended in 1997), with the purpose to promote the development, conservation and management of living marine resources; to formulate and recommend conservation measures; to encourage training cooperative projects.

    International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas
    The Convention (see also pdf file) was adopted in 1966 and entered into force in 1969. The purpose of the Convention is the conservation of the resources of tuna and tuna-like fishes of the Atlantic Ocean. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) was established in 1969, under the Convention, as an inter-governmental fishery organization responsible for the conservation of tunas and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and its adjacent seas.
    ICCAT is the only fisheries organization that can undertake the range of work required for the study and management of tunas and tuna-like fishes in the Atlantic. The Commission's work requires the collection and analysis of statistical information relative to current conditions and trends of the fishery resources in the Convention area.

    UN Economic Commission for Europe, ECE
    The Environment and Human Settlements Division is part of the secretariat of the UN ECE. It brings together economists, scientists, urban planners and other experts, and organizes the regular intergovernmental meetings of the Committee on Environmental Policy, the Executive Body for the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution, the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes and the Committee on Human Settlements. At these meetings, government representatives from Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel address environmental and human settlements issues, such as environmental impact assessment, air and water pollution, urban renewal or land registration.

    UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, ESCWA
    The UN ESCWA has a mandate for raising the level of economic development and cooperation among the countries of its region and between them and other parts of the world. The Natural Resources and Environment Management Programme under its Energy, Natural Resources and Environment Division includes a water resources component covering issues like assessment of water resources in ESCWA member states; harmonisation of environmental standards in the water sector of ESCWA member states; and Progress achieved in the implementation of chapter 18 of Agenda 21, with emphasis on water for sustainable agricultural production (case studies); Development of fresh water resources in the rural areas using non-conventional techniques; and Current water policies and practices in selected ESCWA countries.

    Financial institutions

    European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, EBRD
    The bank finances projects in three country groups (Central Europe; Russia and Central Asia; Southern and Eastern Europe and the Caucasus) and three s
    ectors: Financial Institutions; Infrastructure; and Industry and Commerce. The infrastructure group of projects contains four issues: Municipal and environmental infrastructure; Transport; Power and energy utilities; and Energy efficiency. The EBRD is directed by its Agreement to "promote in the full range of its activities environmentally sound and sustainable development", thereby being the first international financial institution to have been given such a proactive environmental mandate by its founders.

    European Investment Bank, EIB
    The European Union's financing and long-term lending institution. The EIB is mandated to conduct operations in: the Central and Eastern European Countries and certain Mediterranean Countries which have applied for membership of the EU; the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership Countries; the African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP), South Africa and the OCT; Asia and Latin America; the Western Balkans. Within the European Union, projects considered for EIB financing must contribute to a number of set objectives, including the preservation of the natural and urban environment. Outside the Union, the Bank participates in implementing the Union's development aid and cooperation policies through long-term loans from own resources or subordinated loans and risk capital from EU or Member States' budgetary funds.


    Action programmes, strategies and research

    Mediterranean Action Plan
    The Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) strives to protect the environment and to foster development in the Mediterranean Basin. It was adopted in Barcelona, Spain in 1975 by 16 Mediterranean States and the EC, under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Its legal framework comprises the Barcelona Convention adopted in 1976 and revised in 1995, and six Protocols covering specific aspects of environmental protection. See the MAP Programme of Activities.

    Mediterranean Environmental Technical Assistance Program, METAP
    METAP was established in 1990 in response to the need for a unified approach to resolving the complex environmental problems of the Mediterranean region. METAP provides technical assistance to the Mediterranean countries to address national priorities and work together towards a sustainable future for the region.

    UNEP Regional Seas Programme
    The Regional Seas Programme was initiated in 1974 as a global programme implemented through regional components. The Regional Seas Programme is UNEP's main framework in the field of the coastal and marine environment. It includes 14 regions and three partner seas, involves more than 140 coastal states, and focuses on sustainable development of coastal and marine areas. Each regional action plan is formulated according to the needs and priorities of the region as perceived by the Governments concerned. Regional conventions are in place for several areas. See a map of all regional seas, and go to more information on the Black Sea, Wider Caribbean, Mediterranean, East Asian Seas, South Asian Seas, Eastern Africa, Kuwait Region, North West Pacific, Red Sea And Gulf of Aden, South East Pacific, North East Pacific, South Pacific, Upper South West Atlantic, and West and Central Africa. The UNEP Regional Seas web site also contains information on What's at stake, Major threats, and Actions.

    Barcelona Declaration 1995
    Within the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EuroMed), the Barcelona Declaration was adopted in 1995. Environment Co-operation was agreed to focus on:

    • assessing environmental problems in the Mediterranean region and defining, where appropriate, the initiatives to be taken;
    • making proposals to establish and subsequently update a short and medium-term priority environmental action programme for intervention coordinated by the European Commission and supplemented by long-term actions; it should include among the main areas for action, the following: integrated management of water, soil and coastal areas; management of waste; preventing and combating air pollution and pollution in the Mediterranean sea; natural heritage, landscapes and site conservation and management; Mediterranean forest protection, conservation and restoration, in particular through the prevention and control of erosion, soil degradation, forest fires and combating desertification; transfer of Community experience in financing techniques, legislation and environmental monitoring; integration of environmental concerns in all policies;
    • setting up a regular dialogue to monitor the implementation of the action programme;
    • reinforcing regional and subregional cooperation and strengthening coordination with the Mediterranean Action Plan;
    • stimulating coordination of investments from various sources, and implementation of relevant international conventions;
    • promoting the adoption and implementation of legislation and regulatory measures when required, especially preventive measures and appropriate high standards.

    Regional Vision for the Mediterranean Sea
    at the WWC documents library.Also available as a pdf document, English or pdf document, French. Regional visions form the basis for effective action, even as elements of a global plan. As a part of the Water Vision project, Regional Consultations were held and resulted in Regional Visions. The objective was to involve the stakeholders of each region in the development of their own regional vision, as the building blocks of the World Water Vision. Guided by the World Commission on Water in the 21st Century and managed by the World Water Vision Unit hosted by of the UNESCO Division of Water Science, the World Water Vision "aims to develop a massive public awareness of the risks of major water problems as a result of inaction, as well as encourage innovative thinking on how these problems can be tackled. It should encourage and empower people to participate in devising and implementing solutions to these water problems. And it should generate the political commitment to turn this increased public awareness into effective action".

    Regional Vision for the Nile River Basin
    Also available as a pdf document. See also above.

    Small Island Developing States Network
    The SIDSnet was initiated as a follow up to the Barbados Programme of Action from 1994. It was recognised that all islands share common issues and SIDSnet was initiated with UNDP Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP) and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). At present, 41 small island developing States — including Malta and Cyprus — and territories are included in the monitoring of the progress in the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action. These states and territories often work together through the AOSIS, which also includes some small low-lying coastal States. The General Assembly convened a Special Session on SIDS in 1999.


    State of the regional environment

    State of the Marine and Coastal Environment in the Mediterranean Region
    This Mediterranean Action Plan (Technical Report Series No. 100, 1996) can be downloaded in a zipped version (23 KB) from the site of the Mediterranean Action Plan and Secretariat to the Barcelona Convention.

    The UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan site

    GEO 2000 State of the Environment: Europe and Central Asia

    Global Enviroment Outlook 2000. GEO is:

    • a global environmental assessment process, the GEO Process, that is cross-sectoral and participatory. It incorporates regional views and perceptions, and builds consensus on priority issues and actions through dialogue among policy-makers and scientists at regional and global levels.
    • GEO outputs, in printed and electronic formats, including the GEO Report series. This series makes periodic reviews of the state of the world's environment, and provides guidance for decision-making processes such as the formulation of environmental policies, action planning and resource allocation. Other outputs include technical reports, a web site and a publication for young people.

    GEF Projects in the region

    Projects under implementation

    UNEP - GEF - International waters:
    Implementation of Shared Water Management in full Strategic Action Programmes (SAP) for the Mediterranean Sea
    The Strategic Action Programme to Address Pollution from Land-Based Activities in the Mediterranean Region (SAP MED) provides a broad framework and timetable for the implementation of measures that will lead to the protection of the marine environment, including its biological resources and diversity, from harmful land-based activities. This framework includes a basis on which to develop an investment portfolio to address the most acute environmental problems resulting from land-based activities. A draft Transboundary Diagnostic Analyses was produced during the PDF-B phase which will be finalized and agreed during the preliminary phases of project execution. A Strategic Action Plan focusing on Pollution was also produced to operationalise the newly adopted protocol on Land-Based pollution in the Mediterranean. This project will extend the SAP to encompass biodiversity issues in line with the new protocol to the Barcelona Convention that should enter into force during 1999.

    World Bank - GEF - International Waters:
    Lake Ohrid Management
    In order to protect the natural resources of Lake Ohrid, like fisheries, and the economic activities associated with the Lake, like tourism, GEF funds will assist the two nations sharing it in: (1) creating an international Lake Ohrid Mgt. Board to develop the institutional, legal and regulatory framework for transboundary cooperation; (2) establishing a monitoring program for water quality, discharges into and uses of the Lake, and changes in natural resources like fish stocks; (3) preparing a Lake Ohrid Strategic Action Plan and Investment Program to address issues of transboundary pollution, natural resources mgt., and envtl. impacts of economic development in the catchment area; and (4) financing a public awareness campaign and small investments to promote community support, test new technologies and serve as catalysts for future investments.

    World Bank - GEF - International Waters:
    Oil Pollution Management Project for the Southwest Mediterranean Sea
    The project aims to: (a) reduce the input of hydrocarbons into the international waters of the Mediterranean; (b) ensure commonality of approach, regulatory policies, and methodologies; (c) promote exchange of information and coordination of implementation; (d) utilize national data sets to assess long term regional trends in marine pollution, both for national coastal waters and for adjacent international waters; (e) enhance the national monitoring capability; and (F) develop a coastal environmental management framework.

    UNEP - GEF - International waters:
    Determination of Priority Actions for the Further Elaboration and Implementation of the Strategic Action Programme for the Mediterranean Sea
    The Strategic Action Programme to Address Pollution from Land-Based Activities in the Mediterranean Region (SAP MED) provides a broad framework and timetable for the implementation of mechanisms and measures that will lead to the protection of the marine environment, including its biological resources and diversity, from the effects of harmful land-based activities. The present project includes preparatory actions leading to the adoption and implementation of regional guidelines and plans; investment in the elimination of regionally prioritised pollution hot spots; development and implementation of management plans for selected sensitive areas; development of a costed and targeted, strategic action plan for biodiversity; enhancement of public participation and institutional capacity in the region; development and implementation of economic instruments for the sustainable implementation of the SAP MED; and development and implementation of National Action Plans (NAPs) for the implementation of the SAP MED.

    UNDP - GEF - International waters:
    Lake Manzala Engineered Wetlands
    Poor quality of Nile waters threatens health and livelihood of millions in Egypt while polluting the Mediterranean. Project traps sediments and pollutants from municipal, industrial and agricultural sources, demonstrating efficacy of this affordable, relatively simple, and efficient technology.

    UNDP - GEF - Biodiversity:
    Conservation of Wetland and Coastal Ecosystems in the Mediterranean Region
    The project is focused on urgent actions at threatened sites containing globally significant species diversity. These areas are the forerunners of national networks of sites to cover all important and institutional capacity to address these issues. The project structure consists of a government National Coordinator (funded by the governments/Authority and therefore non-GEF funds) responsible for all national aspects of the project; a Local Coordinator for each project site, supported by a local Site Management Committee; a Regional Facilitator, charged with organising the regional aspects of the programme, supported by an international Advisory Committee made up of donors and governments/Authority (represented by the National Cooordinator for each country/authority).

    World Bank - GEF - Biodiversity:
    El Kala National Park and Wetlands Management
    The project will develop and implement a management plan for the National Park and wetland complex in the El Tarf Wilaya, including undertaking base-line studies, protected area management, natural resource use development, monitoring and adaptive research, environmental education, institutional strengthening and establishing a conservation fund for NGOs and other local environmental groups.

    Project concepts in the pipeline

    World Bank/UNDP - GEF - International Waters:
    Nile Basin Initiative - Basin-wide Shared Vision Program
    The project will develop a long-term regional cooperative program to promote sustainable development.

    World Bank - GEF - Biodiversity:
    Gulf of Gabes Marine and Coastal Resources Protection, Tunisia
    This project will develop sustainable use and management plans for the Gulf of Gabes marine and coastal regions in Tunisia.


    Other actors, initiatives and resources

    Under the aegis of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and with the support of the European Commission, the MedWet Initiative was conceived in the beginning of the '90s as an experiment in long-term collaboration, on many levels, among governmental and non-governmental organisations and individuals; a joint venture, as an integral part of the efforts for the conservation and wise use of the Mediterranean Basin.

    Nile Basin Initiative
    Building upon earlier co-operative efforts, the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) was launched in 1999. The NBI is a regional partnership within which countries of the Nile basin have united in common pursuit of the sustainable development and management of Nile waters. For the first time in history, all Nile basin countries have expressed a serious concern about the need for a joint discourse. They have agreed to pursue this under a transitional arrangement (NBI) until a permanent legal framework is in place. Member countries are Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

    Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre For The Mediterranean, REMPEC
    With a view to implementing the Protocol on Co-operation in Combating Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by Oil and Other Harmful Substances in Cases of Emergency (see above, Barcelona Convention), the the Regional Oil Combating Centre (ROCC) was set up in 1976. In 1987 the mandate was widened also to other hazardous substances, and the overall objective of the renamed center is go prevent and respond to marine pollution incidents in the Mediterranean region.

    The Mediterranean - a Large Marine Ecosystem (LME)
    A Large Marine Ecosystem, LME, is a "region of ocean space encompassing coastal areas from river basins and estuaries to the seaward boundary of continental shelves and the seaward margins of coastal current systems. It is a relatively large region characterized by distinct bathymetry, hydrography, productivity, and trophically dependent populations." See also Rhode Island University map of LMEs.


  • Global International Waters Assessment, GIWA
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    Phone: +46- 480 44 60 00. Fax: +46- 480 44 73 55.

    page last modified on 22 August 2006