The Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) was established in 1975 as a coherent legal and institutional framework for cooperation through which all Mediterranean countries decided to jointly address common challenges of environmental degradation while linking sustainable resource management with development. It was soon followed by the Barcelona Convention and seven Protocols addressing issues relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal resources as well as to many policies and measures aiming to improve its management.
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The Mediterranean Basin is one of the most highly valued seas in the world. The region comprises a vast set of coastal and marine ecosystems that deliver valuable benefits to all its coastal inhabitants, including brackish water lagoons, estuaries, or transitional areas; coastal plains; wetlands; rocky shores and nearshore coastal areas; sea grass meadows; coralligenous communities; frontal systems and upwellings; seamounts; and pelagic systems.
The Mediterranean is not only complex in ecology, but also sociopolitically – twenty-one countries border this heavily used sea. The Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean (Barcelona Convention) embodies international partnership to protect the sea, its coasts, and the uses and livelihoods that it supports. The Barcelona Convention provides a critical framework for setting environmental standards and targets that are agreed to by all the Contracting Parties, as well as for sharing important information for management. The Barcelona Convention’s main objectives – 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; and to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life – have spurred much progress. As Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention, the Mediterranean countries, together with the European Union, are determined to meet the continuing and emerging challenges of protecting the marine and coastal environment of the Mediterranean while boosting regional and national plans to achieve sustainable development.