The objectives of the present research are to define the participants of the Mediterranean Action Plan and the broader contracts which have emerged from this effort, as well as to detail the main elements of the plan. The initial development and implementation will be explained, along with continuity and change since the initial adoptions.
UNEP is an international organization (IO) that has been plagued by locational and resource disadvantages since its inception (Karns, 2010). However, in spite of resource disadvantages and a broad agenda this IO has been capable of some remarkable successes.
List of the Participants
Originally, there were 16 parties to the Mediterranean Action Plan (hereinafter “original parties”) along with the European Community ( (United Nations Environment Programme, 2007). Then there were 18 governments which exhaust the sovereign powers of the Mediterranean Sea region each participated in the negotiations of the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) or Med Plan (Karns, 2010). Currently, the participants (hereinafter “Contracting Parties” ) are: “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” (United Nations Environment Programme, 2007). The Contracting Parties are involved in the planning, budgeting, and programming of the Med Plan.
The participation of an environmental epistemic community was also essential. According to Karns & Mingst (2010, pp. 227), “Critical to bringing together the states and securing agreement… was the network of ecologists in UNEP, the FAO, and several governments”.
Framework of Incentives
Each participating nation constituted a piece in the strategic framework of incentives for the historic agreement. However, the incentives shared by all appear, prima facie and by official history, to be based on the shared goal of reducing pollution in the Mediterranean Sea. The official goals,
(W)ere to assist the Mediterranean countries to assess and control marine pollution, to formulate their national environment policies, to improve the ability of governments to identify better options for alternative patterns of development, and to optimize the choices for allocation of resources. (United Nations Environment Programme, 2007)
Elements of the Plan
The original document of the Med Plan outlined four main elements:
Element I. The first element was the product of a recognition by the original parties that there was a tradeoff between economic development and environmental protection, and that the socioeconomic inequalities between these nations made a joint coordination effort the optimal solution (United Nations Environmental Programme Intergovernmental Meeting on the Protection of the Mediterranean, 1975). This element was pursuant to the essential objective of improved natural resource utilization and was predicated on an awareness of the relationship between human activities and the state of natural living communities.
Element II. This element was an important point of cooperation and articulation between UNEP and the original parties. It committed them to working together to employ UNEP’s scientific expertise in establishing a baseline level of pollutants and the effects on the marine ecosystem of the Sea, along with its living parts, and the sharing of this information for decision-making.
Element III. This element focuses on the original parties establishing a legal basis for the coordinated effort of managing the environmental degradation of the Sea. The original parties committed to working with UNEP and FAO, who were to draft the convention that would become the legal foundation of multi-lateral cooperation.
Element IV. The purpose of this element was to establish the resource base necessary to achieve some of the coordination efforts of the program. The underlying conceptual architecture of establishing these resources was to rely on the networks of cooperation between extant IOs and the governments with whom they worked. Interestingly, it also contained some explicit language about dealing with “the ever-present and growing threat of major oil spillage in the Mediterranean” (United Nations Environmental Programme Intergovernmental Meeting on the Protection of the Mediterranean, 1975).
1975: Initial Development and Implementation
Early research literature on the Med Plan placed the intellectual foundations of the plan in the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment which birthed UNEP as an IO (Boxer, 1978). The Med Plan was novel at the time—the first of its kind and the first in the Regional Seas Programme for UNEP—and was considered to be an ambitious international project. The UNEP Governing Council is credited with outlined the original architecture of the Med Plan programming, which included a focus on intergovernmental cooperation, independent funding, and reliance on institutions designated by the participating governments. This writer’s conjecture is that it was UNEP’s intent was to shift the onus of responsibility for initial development and implementation of the program to the original participants (which had included 17 of the 18 littoral states of the Mediterranean Seas by the late 1970s). The Med Plan was drafted by UNEP and FAO with technical and legal assistance from the original participants and approved in February of 1975. This event was politically significant in its own right, but its primary effect was to stimulate international discourse on the coordination of environmental protection against chemical pollutants as well as scientific and technical monitoring and research.
Since 1975: Continuity and Modifications
The associated Barcelona Convention which began in 1976 was finally almost exactly three years after ratification of the Med Plan, on 12 February 1978. This ossified the commitment of the original parties, and included one more of the Mediterranean Sea littoral states. According to UNEP,
Although the initial focus of the MAP was on marine pollution control, experience confirmed that socio-economic trends, combined with inadequate development planning and management are the root of most environmental problems. Consequently, the focus of MAP gradually shifted to include integrated coastal zone planning and management as the key tool through which solutions are being sought. (United Nations Environment Programme, 2007)MAP Phase II was developed in response. The document states that, “the focus of MAP gradually shifted from a sectoral approach to pollution control to integrated coastal zone planning and management as the key tool through which solutions are being sought” (United Nation Environmental Programme, 1995). This original focus was never completed dispensed with, but the scope of the project undoubtedly expanded as it directly included social and economic functional areas, as well as vertical structures, rather than just contemplatively considering them in planning documents.
Boxer, B. (1978). Mediterranean Action Plan: An Interim Evaluation. Science, 585-90.
Karns, K. & Mingst, K. (2010). International Organizations: The Politics and Processes of Global Governance (2nd Ed.). Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
United Nation Environmental Programme. (1995). United Nations Environment Program Mediterranean Action Plan for the Barcelona Convention Structure About MAP The Action Plan. Retrieved May 26, 2013, from United Nations Environment Program Mediterranean Action Plan for the Barcelona Convention Structure: Action Plan for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Sustainable Development of the Coastal Areas of the Mediterranean (MAP Phase II
United Nations Environment Programme. (2007). United Nations Environment Program Mediterranean Action Plan for the Barcelona Convention Structure. Retrieved from United Nations Environment Program Mediterranean Action Plan for the Barcelona Convention: http://www.unepmap.org/...
United Nations Environment Programme. (2007). United Nations Environment Programme Mediterranean Action Plan for the Barcelona Convention About MAP The Action Plan. Retrieved from United Nations Environment Programme Mediterranean Action Plan for the Barcelona Convention: http://www.unepmap.org/...
United Nations Environmental Programme Intergovernmental Meeting on the Protection of the Mediterranean. (1975). United Nations Environmental Programme Mediterranean Action Plan for the Barcelona Convention About MAP The Action Plan. Retrieved May 26, 2013, from United Nations Environmental Programme Mediterranean Action Plan for the Barcelona Convention: http://www.unepmap.org/...