The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) decision to place the protection of the Mediterranean Sea among its priority actions resulted in the establishment of the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) in 1975 which is an action-orientated effort involving the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea as well as the European Union. In order to give the actions carried out under the MAP a legal foundation, the Convention on the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution (Barcelona Convention) was opened for signature on 16 February 1976 in Barcelona.
In conformity with the decisions of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the Barcelona Convention was revised in 1995 to include coastal areas as well as the marine environment. The aim of sustainable development, increased public participation and environmental impact assessment were integrated into the Convention and its Protocols. In this context, the revised Convention was renamed as “The Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean” which entered into force in 9 June 2004. Turkey has become a Party to the Convention in 2002.
The Protocols of the Convention to which Turkey is Party, are listed below:
– Protocol for the Prevention and Elimination of Pollution in the Mediterranean Sea by Dumping from Ships and Aircraft or Incineration at Sea
– Protocol for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities
– Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean
– Protocol Concerning Cooperation in Preventing Pollution from Ships and, in Cases of Emergency, Combating Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea
– Protocol on the Prevention of Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal (a declaration was made on Turkey’s position regarding the United Nations Law of the Sea)
The “Land-based Pollution National Action Plan” was prepared in 2005 in accordance with the Strategic Action Plan that was adopted in the framework of the Barcelona Convention and the Protocol for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities.
Today, the Barcelona Convention and MAP are more active than ever. The Contracting Parties are now 22*, and they are determined to protect the Mediterranean marine and coastal environment while boosting regional and national plans to achieve sustainable development.
* Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, the European Community, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Slovenia, Spain, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey
The Convention’s main objectives are:
- to assess and control marine pollution
- to ensure sustainable management of natural marine and coastal resources;
- to integrate the environment in social and economic development;
- to protect the marine environment and coastal zones through prevention and reduction of pollution, and as far as possible, elimination of pollution, whether land or sea-based;
- to protect the natural and cultural heritage;
- to strengthen solidarity among Mediterranean coastal States;
- to contribute to improvement of the quality of life.