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Barcelona Convention and Mediterranean Action Plan: First-ever Legally-binding International Instrument on Coastal Zone Management Adopted  

Madrid, 21 January 2008 A new Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) has been adopted in Madrid. This is the seventh Protocol coming to complete the set of legal instruments of the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean and its Protocols (Barcelona Convention)*.

At today’s concluding session of the Plenipotentiaries Conference, fourteen Contracting Parties have signed the Protocol. Today’s signing ceremony was chaired by the Spanish Minister of Environment Cristina Narbona and attended by a number of ambassadors of Mediterranean countries accredited to the Kingdom of Spain.

This is a pioneering Protocol and it constitutes an added value for the Barcelona Convention and the Mediterranean Action Plan. It is the first time that Integrated Coastal Zone Management is fully addressed by a legally-binding international instrument. We are confident that with such a strong support from the Contracting Parties the Protocol on Coastal Zone Management will enter into force soon”, said Paul Mifsud, Coordinator of the Mediterranean Action Plan of UNEP.

As indicated in the text of the Protocol:

“[…] the Contracting Parties shall establish a common framework for the integrated management of the Mediterranean coastal zone and shall take the necessary measures to strengthen regional co-operation for this purpose.

“[…] Integrated coastal zone management” means a dynamic process for the sustainable management and use of coastal zones, taking into account at the same time the fragility of coastal ecosystems and landscapes, the diversity of activities and uses, their interactions, the maritime orientation of certain activities and uses and their impact on both the marine and land parts.

Among the main threats to the Mediterranean region coastal areas, the Protocol identifies the increase in human activities resulting in coastal zone degradation and the reduction of biodiversity; and the risks due to climate change which is likely to result, inter alia, in a rise in sea level.

[…] The objectives of integrated coastal zone management are to:

(a) facilitate, through the rational planning of activities, the sustainable development of coastal zones by ensuring that the environment and landscapes are taken into account in harmony with economic, social and cultural development;

(b) preserve coastal zones for the benefit of current and future generations;

(c) ensure the sustainable use of natural resources, particularly with regard to water use;

(d) ensure preservation of the integrity of coastal ecosystems, landscapes and geomorphology;

(e) prevent and/or reduce the effects of natural hazards and in particular of climate change, which can be induced by natural or human activities;

(f) achieve coherence between public and private initiatives and between all decisions by the public authorities, at the national, regional and local levels, which affect the use of the coastal zone.

[…] In conformity with the objectives and principles set out in Articles 5 and 6 of this Protocol, the Parties shall endeavour to ensure the sustainable use and management of coastal zones in order to preserve the coastal natural habitats, landscapes, natural resources and ecosystems, in compliance with international and regional legal instruments.

Notes to Editors:

* The Barcelona Convention is the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean, done at Barcelona on 16 February 1976, as amended on 10 June 1995 to address sustainable development challenges. The Barcelona Convention and its Protocols are the legal basis of the Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP), the first Regional Sea Programme developed by the United Nations Environment Programme.


Luisa Colasimone, UNEP/MAP, mob. +30 6949 122 746

Luis Donado, TRAGSA, mob. +34 696 850 303

For information about the Mediterranean Action Plan and the Barcelona Convention visit our website www.unepmap.org and http://www.cop15map.com/

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