The Ecosystem Approach (EcAp) is the guiding principle for the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) Programme of Work. The implementation of the EcAp Roadmap adopted in 2008 by the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convection aims at achieving Good Environmental Status (GES) in the Mediterranean Sea and Coast.
The mainstreaming of the EcAp into the work of UNEP/MAP Barcelona Convention and achieving GES in the Mediterranean Sea and Coast has been supported by several European Union funded projects including the EcAp MED I (2012-2015) and the EcAp MED II (2015-2019) projects.
The EcAp MED II Project
The project “Mediterranean Implementation of the Ecosystem Approach, in Coherence with the EU MSFD”, with a timeline of 2015-2019, aims to assist the Southern Mediterranean Contracting Parties to implement the Integrated Monitoring and Assessment Programme (IMAP), adopted by COP 19 (Decision IG.22/7). It is funded by the EU with a budget of 2,675,000 EUR.
As such, the project seeks to support the Southern Mediterranean Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention by providing them with assistance in establishing their new updated monitoring programmes in line with the Integrated Monitoring and Assessment Programme. This has enabled, for the first time, a quantitative monitoring of the status of the Mediterranean Sea and Coast on a regional basis, which addresses the areas of biodiversity and non-indigenous species, coast and hydrography, and pollution and marine litter monitoring, in an interlinked manner.
In addition to the above, the project addresses some specific challenges of EcAp implementation, by strengthening the Science-Policy Interface, (SPI); by addressing the sub-regional implementation needs; and by responding to data and information challenges in the region.
The project is being implemented by the MAP Coordinating Unit (UNEP/MAP) and executed by several MAP Components such as MED POL, BP/RAC, INFO/RAC, PAP/RAC and SPA/RAC.
The Mediterranean Pollution Assessment and Control Programme (MED POL) was established in 1975. Its objective is to contribute to the prevention and elimination of land-based pollution of the Mediterranean. In this respect, MED POL’s mission is to assist the Contracting Parties, through planning and coordination of initiatives and actions, including promoting and catalyzing synergies and investments programmes, to meet their obligations under the Barcelona Convention and the Dumping, LBS and the Hazardous Wastes Protocols; facilitate the implementation of National Action Plans to address land-based pollution and LBS-related legally binding programmes and action plans; and continuously assess the status and trends of pollution of the Mediterranean.
The Blue Plan was established in 1977 as a regional cooperation programme and became the Blue Plan Regional Activity Centre in 1984. Its objective is to contribute to raising awareness of Mediterranean stakeholders and decision makers concerning environment and sustainable development issues in the region, by providing future scenarios to assist in decision-making. In this respect and through its dual functions as an observatory of the environment and sustainable development and a centre for systemic and prospective analysis, the BP/RAC’s mission is to provide the Contracting Parties with assessments of the state of the environment and development of the Mediterranean and a solid basis of environmental and sustainable development data, statistics, and indicators to support their action and decision-making process.
The Regional Activity Centre for Information and Communication (INFO/RAC) was established in 2005, substituting the Regional Activity Centre on Environment Remote Sensing (ERS/RAC) that was admitted as MAP Regional Activity Centre in 1993. It is mandated inter alia to establish a common information management infrastructure (Info MAP) to facilitate and support information and communication activities across MAP. The objective of INFO/RAC is to contribute to collecting and sharing information, raising public awareness and participation and enhancing decision-making processes at the regional, national and local levels.
The Priority Actions Programme Regional Activity Centre (PAP/RAC) was established in 1980. Its specific objective is to contribute to sustainable development of coastal zones and sustainable use of their natural resources. In this respect, PAP/RAC’s mission is to provide assistance to Mediterranean countries in the implementation of Article 4(i) of the Barcelona Convention, meeting their obligations under the ICZM Protocol and implement the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development (MSSD), 2005, and by carrying out, in particular, the tasks assigned to it in Article 32 of the ICZM Protocol, 2008.
The Specially Protected Areas Regional Activity Centre (SPA/RAC) was established in 1985. Its specific objective is to contribute to the protection and preservation and sustainable management of marine and coastal areas of particular natural and cultural value and threatened and endangered species of flora and fauna. In this context the mission of SPA/RAC is to provide assistance to the Contracting Parties in meeting their obligations under Articles 4 and 10 of the Barcelona Convention, 1995, and under the Specially Protected Areas and Biodiversity Protocol (SPA/BD Protocol); and implementing the Strategic Action Programme for the Conservation of Biological Biodiversity in the Mediterranean Region (SAP BIO), adopted by the Contracting Parties in 2003, as well as the MSSD and by carrying out the tasks assigned to it in Articles 9, 11(7), and 25 of the SPA/BD Protocol.
Mediterranean Quality Status Report
In the context of implementing the Ecosystem Approach Roadmap adopted by the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention in 2008, the MAP system had delivered in 2017 the first ever Quality Status Report for the Mediterranean 2017 MED QSR, with support also from the EcAp MED II project. This is the first assessment product based on the Ecosystem Approach and the respective MAP Ecological Objectives and IMAP Indicators; it builds upon existing data and is complemented with inputs from numerous diverse sources where appropriate. It is an important and innovative development for assessing the status of the Mediterranean ecosystem and the achievement of Good Environmental Status (GES).
At COP 20, the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention underlined the gaps of the pioneering 2017 MED QSR, recommended general directions towards a successful 2023 Mediterranean Quality Status Report (2023 MED QSR) and requested the Secretariat to prepare a Roadmap accompanied with a Needs Assessment on how to improve data collection to address knowledge gaps and strengthen the capacities of the system. In line with that mandate the 2023 MED QSR Roadmap was prepared and is being integrated into the proposal of the UN Environment/MAP Programme of Work for 2020-2021 which is currently under development.