In 1975, 16 Mediterranean countries and the European Community adopted the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP), the first-ever Regional Seas Programme under UNEP's umbrella.
In 1976 these Parties adopted the Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution (Barcelona Convention). Seven Protocols addressing specific aspects of Mediterranean environmental conservation complete the MAP legal framework:
- Dumping Protocol (from ships and aircraft)
- Prevention and Emergency Protocol (pollution from ships and emergency situations)
- Land-based Sources and Activities Protocol
- Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity Protocol
- Offshore Protocol (pollution from exploration and exploitation)
- Hazardous Wastes Protocol
- Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM)
Although MAP's initial focus was aimed at marine pollution control, over the years, its mandate gradually widened to include integrated coastal zone planning and management.
In 1995, 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.
At the same time, the Contracting Parties adopted an amended version of the Barcelona Convention of 1976, renamed Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean.
Today, 30 years later, the Barcelona Convention and MAP are more active than ever. The Contracting Parties are now 22, and they are determined to protect the Mediterranean marine and coastal environment while boosting regional and national plans to achieve sustainable development.
The Convention's main objectives are:
- to assess and control marine pollution
- to ensure sustainable management of natural marine and coastal resources;
- to integrate the environment in social and economic development;
- to protect the marine environment and coastal zones through prevention and reduction of pollution, and as far as possible, elimination of pollution, whether land or sea-based;
- to protect the natural and cultural heritage;
- to strengthen solidarity among Mediterranean coastal States;
- to contribute to improvement of the quality of life.
MAP's regional influence is very much a product of its close interaction with various UN agencies and other inter-governmental organisations, that share MAP's commitment to the welfare of the Mediterranean region and its peoples.
The growing number of Mediterranean NGOs focusing on environment and development reflects the rising public concern for participation in the fusion of these two spheres. MAP recognises the expertise and awareness-raising capabilities of NGOs, supports their initiatives and encourages their participation in MAP activities.