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Mediterranean Area

Region's countries

Southern part of Portugal, Mediterranean areas of Spain and France, almost the entire Italy and the whole extension of Slovenia, Croatia, Greece, Malta and Cyprus, as well as the UK territory of Gibraltar and Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro.


Policy framework

1.    Transnational cooperation programme

The INTERREG V B MED Programme 2014-2020 aims to promote sustainable growth in the Mediterranean area by fostering innovative concepts and practices (technologies, governance, innovative services). It will also encourage the sustainable use of natural and cultural resources and support social integration, through an integrated and territorially based cooperation approach. For the period 2014 - 2020 the MED Programme focuses on four priorities:

  1. To promote innovation capacities to develop smart and sustainable growth;
  2. To foster low carbon strategies and energy efficiency;
  3. To protect and promote the Mediterranean natural and cultural resources;
  4. To enhance the Mediterranean transnational governance.

During this period, the Programme is expected to:

  • Foster innovation of public and private actors involved in green and blue growth sectors, creative industries and social economy;
  • Raise capacity for better management of energy in public buildings;
  • Increase access and use of sustainable transports systems;
  • Improve the level of sustainability of tourism in Mediterranean coastal regions, through better cooperation and joint and integrated planning.

The MED Programme 2014-2020 makes explicit references to climate change adaptation under the priority 2. Adaptation is also included in the possible foci of the funded projects, as well as the areas to which the projects will contribute. In addition to the thematic orientation, the MED Programme addresses three horizontal thematic aspects highlighted in EU regulations, including that of sustainable development.


2.    Macro-region strategies

Parts of the Mediterranean region overlap with the geographic scope of some EU macro-regional strategies; the most relevant one for the Mediterranean is EUSAIR on the Adriatic-Ionian region; and to a smaller extent the EUSALP which includes the French Alps Maritimes, the northern Regions of Italy and Slovenia.


3.    International conventions and other cooperation initiatives

The INTERREG MED region includes the European parts of the territory interested by the Barcelona Convention and the UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP-MAP). The Barcelona Convention with its several protocols covers the area of the entire Mediterranean. Through the UNEP-MAP, the contracting parties to the Barcelona Convention aim to meet the challenges of protecting the marine and coastal environment while boosting regional and national plans to achieve sustainable development.

The UNEP-MAP Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development (MSSD) was adopted in 2005, for the period 2005-2015; its revision (MSSD 2016-2025) was adopted in 2016. This strategy provides a strategic policy framework for securing a sustainable future for the Mediterranean region consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The strategy focuses on cross-cutting objectives that lie in the interface between environment and development. ‘Addressing climate change as a priority issue for the Mediterranean’ is one of the MSSD 2016-2025 objectives; climate change adaptation is included in a wide number of actions part of the four strategic directions related to this objective.

In 2008 a Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM Protocol) to the Barcelona Convention was developed to provide a common framework for the Contracting Parties to promote and implement ICZM. The ICZM Protocol entered into force in March 2011. It includes actions which are also beneficial for climate change adaptation along the coastal system. The UNEP/MAP Regional Activity Centre of the Priority Actions Programme (PAP/RAC) provides support for the implementation of the ICZM Protocol for the Mediterranean and the MSSD, taking also climate change adaptation into account.

Transnational cooperation on climate change adaptation in the region is also promoted through the following initiatives:

  • The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) is a multilateral partnership created in 2008 and consisting of the 28 EU Member States and 15 other Mediterranean partner countries. UfM aims to act as a unique platform to facilitate and promote regional dialogue and cooperation as well as concrete projects and initiatives in the fields of energy and climate action. In 2014 UfM established a ‘Climate Change Expert Group’ to foster the exchange of information and best practices across the entire Mediterranean region, as well as to promote the development of concrete projects and initiatives.
  • The WESTMED Maritime Initiative involves 10 countries (Algeria, France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia). The initiative identifies three main goals: (1) a safer and more secure maritime space; (2) a smart and resilient blue economy; (3) better governance of the sea. Climate change adaptation is mentioned within the second objective and refers to the development of tailor-made solutions and new technologies to harness marine renewable energies, to mitigate and adapt to climate change as well as to promote energy efficiency and adaptation to climate change in coastal cities.
  • The Bologna Charter is a policy initiative aiming at strengthening the role of coastal regional administrations in the context of European policies and initiatives at the Mediterranean scale related to: coastal protection, integrated management and adaptation to climate change. The charter also promotes a macro-project initiative which is detailed in the Joint Action Plan.


4.    Adaptation strategies and plans

Adaptation strategies and plans have not been developed for the Mediterranean Area in the frame of the INTERREG transnational cooperation or other forms of cooperation. However, the 19th meeting of Contracting Parties (COP19) of the Barcelona Convention endorsed in 2016 the ‘Regional Climate Change Adaptation Framework for the Mediterranean Marine and Coastal Areas’. The document aims at building a common regional strategic approach to increasing climate resilience and adaptation capacity.


Examples of projects funded in the 2014–2020 period

Examples of projects funded by the MED Programme 2014-2020 are reported below.

Integrated management of coastal areas is one of the topic addressed by the project CO-EVOLVE (Promoting the co-evolution of human activities and natural systems for the development of sustainable coastal and maritime tourism) (2016-2019). CO-EVOLVE aims at analysing and promoting the co-evolution of human activities and natural systems in touristic coastal areas, facing effects due to climate change and allowing sustainable development of touristic activities, in coexistence and synergy with other uses of the coastal and marine space and resources, based on the principles of Integrated Coastal Zone Management and Maritime Spatial Planning.

Moving from the consideration that MPAs (Marine Protected Areas) can play an important role in climate change mitigation and adaptation, MPA-ADAPT (Guiding Mediterranean MPAs through the climate change era: building resilience adaptation) (2016-2019) aims to: (1) raise awareness of the role of effective MPAs for enhancing resilience to climate change and safeguarding ecosystem services as well as contributing to adaptation measures; (2) strengthen capacity of MPAs to plan for and respond to climate change impacts based on a better understanding of climate risk and vulnerability; (3) showcase how climate change can be integrated into planning and management of Mediterranean MPAs. Five MPAs from three Mediterranean countries act as pilot sites for the development of climate change adaptation action plans and their integration into existing management framework.

A relevant role in sharing knowledge and practices also related to climate change impact assessment and adaptation in the Mediterranean region (and in particular toward non-EU countries) is also played by UNEP-MAP. A good example of UNEP-MAP activities on knowledge creation and sharing is represented by the ClimVar & ICZM (Integration of climatic variability and change into national strategies to implement the ICZM Protocol in the Mediterranean) project (2012–2015). ClimVar&ICZM aimed at: (1) strengthening knowledge on regional climate variability and change and on their impacts, defining their specific characteristics in the Mediterranean region; (2) improving capacity building and establish mechanisms for exchange of data and information for integration of climate variability and change into concrete ICZM policies, plans and programmes.