In 1975, only three years after the Stockholm Ministerial Conference that set up the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), 16 Mediterranean countries and the European Community adopted the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP). The MAP was the first-ever plan adopted as a Regional Seas Programme under UNEP's umbrella.
The main objectives of the MAP were to assist the Mediterranean countries to assess and control marine pollution, to formulate their national environment policies, to improve the ability of governments to identify better options for alternative patterns of development, and to optimize the choices for allocation of resources.
Although the initial focus of the MAP was on marine pollution control, experience confirmed that socio-economic trends, combined with inadequate development planning and management are the root of most environmental problems. Consequently, the focus of MAP gradually shifted to include integrated coastal zone planning and management as the key tool through which solutions are being sought.
Twenty years later, 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 designed, taking into account the achievements and shortcomings of the MAP in the context of recent developments.
Today MAP involves 21 countries bordering the Mediterranean as well as the European Community. Together, they are determined to meet the challenges of environmental degradation in the sea, coastal areas and inland, and to link sustainable resource management with development, in order to protect the Mediterranean region and contribute to an improved Mediterranean quality of life.
Key MAP priorities for the coming decade are:
- to bring about a massive reduction in pollution from land-based sources;
- to protect marine and coastal habitats and threatened species;
- to make maritime activities safer and more conscious of the Mediterranean marine environment;
- to intensify integrated planning of coastal areas;
- to monitor the spreading of invasive species;
- to limit and intervene promptly on oil pollution.
- to further promote sustainable development in the Mediterranean region
Economic forecasts show that the Mediterranean region is on the way to becoming an advanced economy, with potential for large investment inflows in the coming decades. This needs a backdrop of stability so that Mediterranean countries can press ahead with a shared vision for a common good and a proactive approach to sustainable development.
The key ingredient in the continued and enhanced success of this regional ‘green’ effort is the commitment of the region’s inhabitants, and its millions of visitors, to an overall respect for the Mediterranean environment and their will to integrate this respect into their daily lives.
The goal is not only to change attitudes but also to motivate and empower people to act for the Mediterranean environment.