The Convention on Biological Diversity

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD; Rio de Janeiro, 1992) is the leading international legal framework for the creation and management of protected areas. Article 8(a) calls specifically for the establishment of protected area systems to protect biodiversity.

In 1998, the Parties to the CBD adopted a programme of work on marine and coastal biodiversity known as the “Jakarta Mandate”. It was not until 2004 (CBD COP7) that a substantial amount of new text regarding Marine and Coastal Protected Areas was incorporated into the programme of work. Parties formally recognised the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) target of “the establishment and maintenance by 2010 for terrestrial and by 2012 for marine areas of comprehensive, effectively managed, and ecologically representative national and regional systems of protected areas that collectively, inter alia through a global network, contribute to achieving the three objectives of the Convention and the 2010 target to significantly reduce the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional, national and sub-national levels and contribute to poverty reduction and the pursuit of sustainable development".

A target was settled that there should be effective conservation of at least 10% of each of the world’s ecological regions by 2010. A further commitment was made in 2006 at the Eighth Ordinary Conference of the Parties to the CBD (COP8) to protect at least 10% of the marine area under national jurisdiction.

All of 21 countries bordering the Mediterranean have ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The Barcelona Convention

The Mediterranean Action Plan - UNEP – MAP

In 1975, 16 Mediterranean countries and the European Community adopted the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP), the first Regional Seas Programme under the umbrella United Nation Environmental Programme (UNEP). In 1976, these Parties adopted the 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
  • Integrated Coastal Zone Management.
The Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean commits the Contracting Parties to support actions to protect and enhance natural and cultural heritage and to incorporate the conservation of biological diversity into their national policies. Several MPAs have been established and are being implemented by the UNEP RAC/SPA centres.

In particular, the Protocol provides for the establishment of a list of Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMI) under which the Parties agree “to recognize the particular importance of these areas for the Mediterranean” and “to comply with the measures applicable to the SPAMIs and not to authorize nor undertake any activities that might be contrary to the objectives for which the SPAMI were established. To date, 20 marine SPAMI have been designated in the Mediterranean.

The RAC/SPA coordinates the Strategic Action Programme for the Conservation of Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean Region (SAP BIO), the concerted strategy of the Contracting Parties to implement the 1995 SPA Protocol.

The SAP BIO provides a logical base for the conservation of the Mediterranean marine and coastal biodiversity. As regards, MPAs, its objectives include to “foster the improving of knowledge of marine and coastal biodiversity” and “improve the management of existing, and favour the creation of new, Marine and Coastal Protected Areas” (UNEP/MAP/RAC/SPA 2003a).

The 22 Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention are: Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, the European Community, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Slovenia, Spain, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey.  

The MedPartnership

In the framework of the Mediterranean Action Plan, the countries of the Mediterranean have joined forces with the World Bank, regional and international organizations as well as non governmental organizations to create a Strategic Partnership for the Mediterranean Sea Large Marine Ecosystem, the MedPartnership.

This Partnership enables a coordinated and strategic approach to catalyze the policy, legal and institutional reforms, and the investments necessary to reverse the degradation trends affecting this unique large marine ecosystem, including its coastal habitats and biodiversity.

UNEP/MAP is the regional institution that supports and coordinates the implementation of the Barcelona Convention and Protocols adopted by all Mediterranean riparian countries to protect the marine and coastal environment. 

The Strategic Partnership is the largest project in history in the Mediterranean, with funding of over 100 million US$ including investments and co-financing, and is the first project to bring together some of the main partners working in the Mediterranean for joint implementation of actions.

With the financial support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and other partners, including the EU and all participating countries, the project will be implemented in close association with other relevant initiatives, such as Horizon 2020 for the de-pollution of the Mediterranean, the Integrated European Maritime Policy, and the World Bank/GEF Sustainable Mediterranean Program, amongst others. The project also contributes to the sustainable development objectives of the Union for the Mediterranean.

The Project will be carried out in the following GEF eligible countries: Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Montenegro, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey. The Palestinian Authority also participates.

The major environmental concerns and 101 hotspots in the Mediterranean were identified in the Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA). The actions for their remediation were identified and agreed in two Strategic Action Programs (SAPs) aimed at reducing land-based sources of marine pollution (SAP-MED) and protecting biodiversity and living resources and their habitats (SAP-BIO), adopted by the countries of the Mediterranean.

WWF partners with the MedPartnership on the implementation of the MedPAN South Project.

Coordination of the MedPAN South Project

WWF Mediterranean is responsible for the coordination and supervision of the MedPAN South Project. Local Coordination Units are established in each pilot project.

Specific contracts and MoUs will be signed between WWF Mediterranean and the different donors, the regional organizations (in particular UNEP MAP MEDU and UNEP MAP RAC / SPA), and the local partners.

The project’s regional institutional arrangements takes account of the coordination bodies of the GEF project approved by recipient countries:
  • The Strategic Partnership Project Steering Committee (SPSC) will act as the main policy body overseeing project execution and will meet annually. The SPSC will comprise SP national focal points from all GEF-eligible countries.
  • The Strategic Partnership Coordination Group (SPCG) will be responsible for the overall coordination of the Strategic Partnership, in particular ensuring effective exchanges and synergy between the regional component and the investment fund. It reviews the documents GEF, elaborates recommendations for the SPSC and periodically reviews the strategy replication of the programme.
  • The Advisory Committee PAS BIO (existing since 2006 under the coordination of the SAP BIO) will be extended to new regional operators and donors (EU, FFEM, MAVA, AECID) and will meet every six months. It will play a guiding role in the present draft decisions and keep consistency with the guidance of the Steering Committee of the GEF project. It will produce recommendations for the SPCG and SPSC. The RAC / SPA will provide the secretariat of the meeting and each regional operator and each donor will have one vote.

Other actors, such as WWF France (coordinator of the MedPAN North Project, an EC funded project) or IUCN Mediterranean will also participate to optimize the Mediterranean coordination of interventions (as provided in the PASBIO).

More info on the MedPartnership website