Under the main theme “partnerships, collaboration and synergies”, there were more than 100 Mediterranean and European actors involved in the protection of coastal zones, including governments, local authorities, public sector, coast management organizations, associations, and funding agencies, to celebrate Coast Day in the Mediterranean on 25 September 2015 in Antibes, France.
Global changes (massive urbanization, destruction of natural habitats, overexploitation of resources, pollution, invasive species... and climate change) are increasingly noticeable in coastal zones. Beyond these pressures on the resilience of biodiversity, the quality of life of coastal populations and the economy of the countries are also under threat. With their increased awareness of these changes, actors involved in coastal conservation are endeavoring to better integrate this issue in planning policies of their territories in the long term.
“The way we manage and use our resources and ecosystems has a definite and obvious impact on the lives and livelihoods of present and future generations” said Gaetano Leone, Coordinator of UNEP/MAP. Recalling the United Nations summit for the adoption of the post-2015 Development Agenda gathering leaders from all over the world these days in New York, and in particular goal 14 of the Agenda entitled Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources, he added: “We are all called today to commit to the achievement of this goal so that by 2020, we are able to “sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans”.
The involvement of 22 countries bordering the Mediterranean in the preparation of a Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management in the Mediterranean, which entered into force in 2011, and which is the first legal instrument of its kind in the world, is a clear indicator of their commitment to preserving the coast.
The celebration of the Coast Day in the Mediterranean, is held this year back to back with the Meeting of the European and Mediterranean Coast Agencies (Rencontre des Agences du littoral d'Europe et de Méditerranée) organized by the Conservatoire du littoral francais, and the workshop on ICZM in the Mediterranean, organized by the French Development Agency and the UNEP/MAP Plan Bleu on September 24, that were an opportunity to strengthen technical exchanges on the conservation of natural coastal sites to share experiences, and create synergies among the different actors.
The Antibes Declaration which was developed based on the meeting conclusions reflects the commitment of these agencies and of countries bordering the Mediterranean towards the protection of the coast. It will be brought to the attention of the United Nations Climate Change Conference during the UNFCC COP21, that will be held in Paris next December.
Throughout 2015, UNEP/MAP is celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the Mediterranean Action Plan and of the Barcelona Convention. A year that coincides with anniversaries of many other actors in the protection of the coast participating to the workshop: fifty years of the NEPTUNE programme of the National Trust, 40 years of the Conservatoire du littoral, thirty years of the Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas, twenty years of the Agence de Protection et d’Aménagement du Littoral de Tunisie, twenty years of French Global Environment Fund, ten years for the Mediterranean small islands Initiative, and the launching of the Montenegro Coast Agency.
Coast Day is an initiative by PAP/RAC, the Priority Actions Programme Regional Activity Centre of UNEP/MAP. It aims at raising the awareness of decision makers, general public, and the youth, on the importance of the coast as natural and economic resource, and the prevention of risks that it faces, resulting from natural phenomena or human activities. Since 2007, this day of celebration has become a key event for the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention, every 25 September.