The Regional Seas Programme, launched in 1974, is one of UNEP’s most significant achievements in the past four decades.

The Programme aims to address the accelerating degradation of the world’s oceans and coastal areas through a “shared seas” approach – namely, by engaging neighbouring countries in comprehensive and specific actions to protect their common marine environment. Today, more than 143 countries have joined 18 Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans for the sustainable management and use of the marine and coastal environment. In most cases, the Action Plan is underpinned by a strong legal framework in the form of a regional Convention and associated Protocols on specific problems.

All individual Conventions and Action Plans reflect a similar approach, yet each has been tailored by its own governments and institutions to suit their particular environmental challenges. UNEP coordinates the Regional Seas Programme, based at the Nairobi headquarters.