Barcelona Convention

Convention for the Protection of Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean



Entered into force



UN Environment Programme / Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP)
Barcelona Convention Secretariat
Coordinating Unit
48, Vassileos Konstantinou Ave., 11635 Athens

The Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP)—Barcelona Convention System works with Contracting Parties and partners to fulfill the vision of a healthy Mediterranean Sea and Coast that underpin sustainable development in the region.

Contracting Parties

Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Slovenia, Spain, Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, Turkey, the European Union.

Main objectives

The Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP), which was adopted by Mediterranean governments and the European Community in 1975, was the first UNEP initiative to be developed under the Regional Seas Programme.

The UNEP Regional Seas Programme was established in 1974 in an effort to coordinate activities aimed at the protection of the marine environment on the basis of a regional approach. MAP became a model for other UNEP-administered Regional Seas Action Plans around the world.

At MAP inception, the objective was twofold: to support the integrated development planning and resource management in the Mediterranean basin, and to design and implement a coordinated programme for research, monitoring, and exchange of information and assessment of the state of pollution and of protection measures.

In order to underpin commitments taken within the MAP framework by a solid regulatory and legal foundation, Mediterranean governments and the European Community adopted in February 1976 the Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution (Barcelona Convention) together with two protocols addressing the prevention of pollution by dumping from ships and aircraft and cooperation in combating pollution in cases of emergency.

In 1995, considering the outcomes of the Rio Summit, the Contracting Parties decided to revise MAP and the Barcelona Convention to promote sustainable development. They broadened the thematic and geographic scope of their application thus addressing the conservation of marine and coastal resources—including biodiversity; Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM)—including the land part of the coastal area and considering, where appropriate the Mediterranean Sea basin area as well as promoting sustainable development.

Today, the system formed by MAP, the Barcelona Convention and its seven Protocols constitutes a coherent regulatory, policy and institutional cooperation framework bringing together 21 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea and the European Union with the main objective of articulating, facilitating and coordinating regional action for the protection of the marine and coastal environment and its sustainable development.

In 2008 the Contrating Parties committed to the Ecosystem Approach as an overarching MAP work principle. By virtue of relevant COP decisions (COP 15, 2008; COP 17, 2012) an ecosystem-based vision for a healthy and productive Mediterranean Sea and Coast was adopted along with 11 Mediterranean Ecological Objectives and a Roadmap to support regional and national efforts towards achieving Good Environmental Status (GES) in the Mediterranean in synergy with relevant global and regional initiatives, including the 2008 European Union Marine Strategy Directive.

As part of the implementation of the Ecosystem Approach, the Integrated Monitoring and Assessment Programme and Related Assessment Criteria (IMAP), adopted in 2016, provides a framework to support quantitative, integrated analysis of the state of the marine and coastal environment in the Mediterranean region. The implementation of IMAP relies on robust standardized monitoring, reporting and assessment guidelines, approaches and tools. As IMAP is implemented and a more complete database is established, regular thematic reports will be developed in the coming years with a view to providing a detailed analysis of the state of the Mediterranean marine and coastal ecosystems, and identifying the key areas of national and regional action in order to achieve GES.

Last holistic assessment of the status of the Regional Sea performed (QSR)


Towards a cleaner Mediterranean: a decade of progress. Monitoring Horizon 2020 regional initiative (EEA-UNEP/MAP joint report on cleaner Mediterranean). 
This joint EEA and UNEP/MAP report takes stock of the progress achieved and challenges ahead in the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Horizon 2020 initiative for a cleaner Mediterranean (H2020).

Relevant EU Initiatives

In the Mediterranean Sea, the ENI SEIS II Project represents one example of cooperation to improve the availability of and access to relevant environmental information in the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) Southern region.