The National Action Plans update process advancing in the Mediterranean

03.02.2015

The National Action Plans (NAPs) update has advanced significantly in the second half of 2014 with completion of procedural and methodological frameworks to support and guide the process at regional and national levels. The process is expected to intensify in the first half of 2015 to lead to a delivery of updated NAPs by the last trimester of the year for submission to and endorsement by the next Conference of Parties to the Barcelona Convention (COP 19).

At the MED POL (MED POL Programme – part of UNEP/MAP) focal points meeting, held in Barcelona on 18-19 December 2014, back to back with the H2020 Initiative Steering Group meeting, most of the Mediterranean countries have reported that they have established adequate structures to manage and oversee the process.

The MED POL national focal points (FP) have decided to update the NAPs according to a harmonized approach and for this purpose they have negotiated and agreed in principle on NAP update guidelines. The guidelines describe institutional structures needed at national level to conduct the process as well as methodological steps to be followed. They are complemented with a set of technical annexes addressing calculation of national budgets of pollutants, assessment of hot spots and sensitive areas and indicators to assess the implementation of NAPs, Protocol for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities (LBS Protocol) and related Regional Plans, as well as of other relevant Protocols of the Barcelona Convention (namely Dumping and Hazardous Waste Protocols). Additional guidance is provided on the use of economic tools (cost-effectiveness/ cost-benefit analysis) in selecting the programmes of measures to achieve Good Environmental Status. The final version of the guidelines and related annexes was endorsed during the last MED POL FP meeting in Barcelona.

A principle agreement has been made to fully align the process for the preparation of programmes of measures under the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and NAP update for those contracting parties to the Barcelona Convention and its LBS Protocol which are EU member states. COP 18 gave a strong mandate and urged the Contracting Parties to update the NAPs in order to identify, prioritize and endorse national programmes of measures to achieve Good Environmental Status with regard to pollution-related ecological objectives under the ecosystem approach in the framework of the LBS Protocol and its Regional Plans.

The UfM Athens Ministerial Declaration, 2014, acknowledged the added value of the updated NAPs, and their implementation is expected to be actively supporting the achievement of H2020 objectives.

H2020 is providing a strong support to NAP update process which is carried out by the Mediterranean countries led by UNEP/MAP Secretariat (MED POL Programme). Through the H2020 and MedPartnership Programme, the UNEP/MAP Secretariat is continuing with efforts to mobilize additional financial resources to provide necessary support to countries to prepare robust, effective and compelling NAPs.

The Strategic Action Programme to combat pollution from land-based sources (SAP-MED) and related NAPs are a unique UNEP/MAP regional and national policy frameworks in the Mediterranean adopted by meetings of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention in line with Article 5 of the LBS Protocol of the same convention setting concrete pollution reduction targets for the period until 2025.

The NAPs prepared in 2003-2004 and endorsed by COP 14, 2005, proved to be an efficient policy tool at national level to identify and prioritize actions to protect the Mediterranean from land based pollution for the period. They played a prominent role in the processes that have led to the successful launching and implementation of the H2020 Initiative to de-pollute the Mediterranean by 2020.