[UNEP's Work > Marine and Coastal Ecosystems ]

Marine and Coastal Ecosystems


Prosperous and healthy oceans and coasts where conservation, productivity and resource use are sustainable

Vision “UNEP Marine and Coastal Strategy”

UNEP promotes the use of sound science to apply ecosystem management to address factors causing decline of ecosystem services in marine and coastal areas.

Under the Medium Term Strategy of UNEP, the UNEP Marine and Coastal Strategy has been developed by the UNEP Marine and Coastal Ecosystems Branch (MCEB) to focus on priority issues for maintaining marine ecosystems and their services for human well-being. The Strategy’s vision will be achieved through a long-term plan that outlines what is needed to improve our marine and coastal environments and ultimately reduce human impact through four objectives:

  • Land-Ocean Connections: to integrate the management of coastal watersheds, the coastal area (including cities) and the marine environment to optimize the ecosystem services and resilience of marine and coastal systems.
  • Ecosystems for Human Well-Being: to identify, assess and value the status, key drivers of change and services of marine and coastal ecosystems and their link to human well-being.
  • Reconciling Use and Conservation: to ensure that appropriate governance frameworks, management tools, capacity and options are available for regions, countries, communities and the private sector to effectively engage in the sustainable management of marine and coastal ecosystems including reconciling competing uses.
  • Vulnerable People and Places: to strengthen the ecological, economic and social security of vulnerable communities and places, including Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to adapt and respond to natural disasters and climate change, through enhancing the resilience of marine and coastal ecosystems and social capital, and improved access and benefit sharing

MCEB provides a comprehensive institutional and programmatic framework for regional and global cooperation for the protection of the marine environment. It hosts the Marine Ecosystems Unit (MEU), the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land based Activities (GPA), and the Regional Seas Programme (RSP).

Marine Ecosystems Unit (MEU)

The MEU undertakes marine environmental and resource management related work through the development and provision of tools, guidelines and implementation of demonstration projects, for example through ecosystem-based adaptation, climate change vulnerability assessments and adaptive marine spatial planning projects.

Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land based Activities (GPA)

The GPA aims to mitigate and prevent the degradation of the marine environment from land-based activities by facilitating the realization of the duty of States to preserve and protect the marine environment. It is the only global programme addressing the interface between fresh water and the coastal environment and encourages countries to develop National Programmes of Action (NPA) to address priority issues based on the particular needs and capacities of their economies and institutions. Other areas of focus include hazardous waste, nutrients, marine litter, pesticides and wastewater. Click here for more information on the GPA >>

Regional Seas Programme (RSP)

The RSP aims to address the accelerating degradation of the world’s oceans and coastal areas through the sustainable management and use of the marine and coastal environment, by engaging neighbouring countries in comprehensive and specific actions to protect their shared marine environment. Main areas of focus include biodiversity, land-based sources of pollution, capacity building and education/awareness. Click here for more information on the Regional Seas Programme >>