December 3, 2019

Cooperation for Healthy Mediterranean Marine and Coastal Ecosystems

News Source: SDG Knowledge Hub

Author(s): Lauren Anderson

The civilizations of Southern Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa have prospered around the Mediterranean Sea, a shared resource that has linked the region’s diverse cultures and underpinned their economic development. But this prosperity has also led to problems. Stressors such as pollution, single-use plastics, climate change and the unsustainable use of marine resources threaten the health of this ecosystem and the people who depend on it.

This is why, for the last four decades, the Mediterranean Action Plan of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP/MAP) has supported the 21 countries[1] of the Mediterranean Sea and the European Union to forge a better path forward through the implementation of the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols. Under the auspices of UNEP, the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention have adopted legally binding measures and strategic commitments to address anthropogenic threats to the Sea and its coastal regions and to capitalize on opportunities for sustainable development in the region.

Since their adoption in 1975 and 1976 the MAP and the Barcelona Convention, respectively, have evolved into an example of regional action and a gateway to greater environmental governance and sustainable development aligned to the outcomes of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit and, with the guidance of the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development (MCSD), the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In the framework of MAP/Barcelona Convention, the Mediterranean countries are agreeing to standards and laying pathways to decouple growth from environmental degradation. With its Mediterranean Trust Fund and other support from the European Union, the GEF and other bilateral and multilateral cooperation mechanisms, the MAP/Barcelona Convention is supporting a green transition by fostering political commitment at the highest echelons, and by building awareness – at all levels and across all sectors – of the resources, technology and know-how needed for countries to set the policies that engender sustainable development.

The UNEP/MAP Programme for the Assessment and Control of Marine Pollution in the Mediterranean (MED POL) and the six Regional Activity Centres (RACs) have supported the design, adoption and implementation of the Convention’s seven Protocols addressing: (1) dumping, (2) pollution from ships, (3) land-based pollution, (4) biodiversity and protected areas, (5) pollution from exploration and exploitation off-shore, (6) hazardous wastes, and most recently, (7) integrated coastal zone management (ICZM).