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News Protection of Mediterranean Coastal Areas: Two Ratifications Pending for the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Instrument to Enter into Force

Spain has ratified the Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) Protocol of the Barcelona Convention (1), raising the total number of ratifications to four, with Slovenia, France and Albania having already ratified this innovative legal instrument.

The main objective of this Protocol, adopted in January 2008 by the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention (2), is the protection of the marine coastal environment and the Mediterranean coastline. Two additional ratifications are pending, and the ICZM Protocol will then enter into force.

Mediterranean coastal areas suffer from serious pressure on their environment as well as degradation of coastal resources. The coasts are submitted to continuous pressure from urban development, tourism, fishing, land-based pollution and aquaculture. Constructions currently cover 40% of the coastal surfaces.

The new Protocol, which is a unique legal instrument in the entire international community, is a key tool for sustainable coastal development, as it provides an effective way of ensuring that human actions are undertaken with a concern for balancing economic, social and environmental goals and priorities in a long-term perspective.

"Coastal degradation can go very rapidly without us noticing and by the moment we realise it, it is already too late", said Maria Luisa Silva Mejias, UNEP/MAP Deputy Coordinator and Officer in charge. "The new Protocol contains useful and innovative tools to help States in addressing threats to the coast such as 100 metres non-building line, undertaking carrying capacity assessment and strategic environmental impact assessments. As importantly, it suggests participatory approaches to ensure that the interests of all stake-holders, and particularly local ones, are properly considered".

The ICZM protocol targets the implementation of Article 4, Paragraph 3 of the Barcelona Convention, which invites signatory parties to promote the integrated management of the coastline. It adds provisions on the environmental impact analysis, the protection and sustainable use of coastal areas, particular coastal ecosystems, coastal landscapes and islands, economic activities and cultural heritage.

Since 2007, activities are organised every year around the Mediterranean region on 25th September - Coast Day - to raise awareness on the value of the coasts and to promote a sustainable use of the coastal resources in the Mediterranean.

Coast Day is a unique event, aiming to promote the value of the Mediterranean coast, to call for an active engagement in its management, and to promote the ICZM Protocol. For the 2010 event organised in Slovenia, activities will be centred on the issue of public participation, in particular participatory approach to the ICZM and institutional coordination. The activities are coordinated by UNEP/MAP and one of its activity centres, PAP/RAC, in partnership with national NGOs.

Notes to Editors:

(1) [...] The objectives of Integrated Coastal Zone Management are to:

(a) facilitate, through the rational planning of activities, the sustainable development of coastal zones by ensuring that the environment and landscapes are taken into account in harmony with economic, social and cultural development;

(b) preserve coastal zones for the benefit of current and future generations;

(c) ensure the sustainable use of natural resources, particularly with regard to water use;

(d) ensure preservation of the integrity of coastal ecosystems, landscapes and geomorphology;

(e) prevent and/or reduce the effects of natural hazards and in particular of climate change, which can be induced by natural or human activities;

(f) achieve coherence between public and private initiatives and between all decisions by the public authorities, at the national, regional and local levels, which affect the use of the coastal zone.

[...] In conformity with the objectives and principles set out in Articles 5 and 6 of this Protocol, the Parties shall endeavour to ensure the sustainable use and management of coastal zones in order to preserve the coastal natural habitats, landscapes, natural resources and ecosystems, in compliance with international and regional legal instruments.

(2) The Barcelona Convention is the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean, done at Barcelona on 16 February 1976, as amended on 10 June 1995 to address sustainable development challenges. The Barcelona Convention and its Protocols are the legal basis of the Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP), the first Regional Sea Programme developed by the United Nations Environment Programme. 

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News type Inbrief
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Source of information UNEP-MAP
Keyword(s) UNEP-MAP
Geographical coverage Euromed
News date 05/07/2010
Working language(s) ENGLISH