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The Mediterranean Region comprises of the coastal states surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.

A new threat is now endangering the well-being of the Mediterranean people and that of future generations, primarily from activities that are causing pollution to the marine environment, the source of life for both human beings and a large variety of marine living resources in the region.

Compounding this danger is the fact that apart from the flow of surface water through the Straight of Gibraltar and the Dardanelles, precipitation and river run-off, the Mediterranean is an almost enclosed sea, taking over a century to be fully renewed. 80% of the harm done to the Mediterranean Sea comes from land-based pollution.

Also the excessive volume of international sea-borne trade that originates from the Mediterranean, is directed to it or passes through it, poses significant pressures to the marine environment of the region, such as water borne diseases, the introduction of opportunistic exotic species, and maritime pollution caused by the transportation of oil and other hazardous substances.

Finally, another extremely important threat posed to the Mediterranean comes from the impact of unrestrained development.

The Mediterranean became the first region to adopt an Action Plan (MAP) in 1975, just after the creation of the Regional Seas Programme in 1974. It was revised in 1995.

The Convention for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution (Barcelona Convention) was adopted in 1976 (amended 1995) and entered into force in 1978 (amended version in force 2004), and a succession of six landmark protocols. Six Regional Activity Centres (RACs) are responsible for the implementation of respective components of MAP under the supervision of the Coordinating Unit (MEDU).

Associated protocols concern: Pollution by dumping from Ships & Aircraft (adopted 1976, in force 1978 (amended 1995)), Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities (adopted 1980, in force 1983 (amended 1996)), Specially Protected Areas and biodiversity (adopted 1982, in force 1986 (amended 1995, in force 1999)), Pollution from Ships and Cases of Emergency (adopted 1976, in force 2002), Pollution from Exploration and Exploitation of Continetal Shelf and Seabed (adopted 1994, not yet in force) , Pollution by Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (adopted 1996, not yet in force) .


The Mediterranean Commitment to protecting the environment while promoting sustainable development has been reaffirmed also through the new strategic Action Programme to Address Pollution from Land-Based Activities (SAP, adopted 1997), a 25-year phased plan to reduce land-based pollution and the new strategic Action Programme for the Conservation of Biological Diversity adopted 2003.

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