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Mediterranean Action Plan of the United Nations Environment Programme, Barcelona Convention and its Protocols

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by Cristian Di Stefano last modified Mar 12, 2012 01:35 PM

In 1975, sixteen Mediterranean countries and the European Community adopted the Mediterranean Action Plan of the United Nations Environment Programme, with the aim of protecting the marine and coastal environment, of assessing and controlling pollution, of preserving biodiversity and promoting sustainable development within the Mediterranean Region.

In 1976, these countries also adopted  the Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution (the Barcelona Convention), that entered into force on 12 February 1978.

The original Convention was amended by the Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution and its Protocols, held in Barcelona on 9 and 10 June 1995.  In the same year,  the Action Plan for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Sustainable Development of the Coastal Areas of the Mediterranean (MAP Phase II) was adopted by the Contracting Parties to replace the Mediterranean Action Plan of 1975.

The amended Barcelona Convention, recorded as “Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean” entered into force on 9 July 2004.

Seven Protocols addressing specific aspects of Mediterranean environmental conservation complete the Barcelona Convention / MAP legal framework:

  • Protocol on integrated coastal zone management;
  • Protocol for the prevention and elimination of pollution of the Mediterranean sea by dumping from ships and aircraft or incineration at sea;
  • Protocol concerning cooperation in preventing pollution from ships and, in cases of emergency, combating pollution of the Mediterranean sea;
  • Protocol for the protection of the Mediterranean sea against pollution from land-based sources and activities;
  • Protocol concerning specially protected areas and biological diversity in the Mediterranean;
  • 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;
  • Protocol on the prevention of pollution of the Mediterranean sea by transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal.


Today, all the 21 Countries bordering the Mediterranean sea and the European Union are working together to protect the Mediterranean marine and coastal environment, while boosting regional and national plans to achieve sustainable development.