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Mediterranean (Euro-Med)

Region's countries

The cooperation area of the Mediterranean region includes countries from the Northern shore of the Mediterranean. The Cooperation Area of the Interreg EURO-MED programme (2021-2027) embraces the whole area of the previous programme (southern parts of Portugal, Spain and France, almost the entire territory of Italy, and the whole extension of Slovenia, Croatia, Greece, Malta, Cyprus, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro). With additional two countries (Bulgaria and Republic of North  Macedonia), for the first time after two previous programming periods, it reaches as well the Black Sea coastal area. Additional regions from Spain (Extremadura, Castilla-La Mancha and Comunidad de Madrid) are also included. Due to Brexit, Gibraltar (UK)*, that participated in the two previous programming periods, is no longer part of the transnational Programme area. A map comparing the old and new borders can be seen here.

 

* From the entry into force of the UK Withdrawal Agreement on 1 February 2020, content from the United Kingdom will no longer be updated on this website.

 

Policy framework

1.     Transnational cooperation programme

The main goal of the 2021-2027 Interreg Euro-Med Programme, adopted by the EU Commission on 22 June 2022,  is to contribute to the “transition towards a climate-neutral and resilient society: fighting against global changes impact on Mediterranean resources, while ensuring a sustainable growth and the well-being of its citizens”. A strategic approach based on four operational missions was adopted.

  • Mission 1: strengthening an innovative and sustainable economy
  • Mission 2: protecting, restoring and enhancing our environment and natural heritage
  • Mission 3: promoting green living areas
  • Mission 4: enhancing sustainable tourism

The programme sets three priorities:

  • Priority 1: Smarter Mediterranean
  • Priority 2: Greener Mediterranean
  • Priority 3: Better Mediterranean Governance

Climate change is recognised as one of the major challenges of the region. It is especially addressed under Priority 2, Greener Mediterranean, that promotes a greener living space by improving natural resources management and by preventing and mitigating risks. Actions for climate change adaptation, supported by the Programme, are expected to contribute to operational Missions 2, 3 and 4.

Synergies and cooperation with existing transnational networking schemes, such as the macro-regional strategies that are relevant for the region (EUSAIR, EUSALP), are promoted by the Interreg Euro-Med Programme.  Thus, stakeholder coordination and transnational exchanges of good practices are fostered by the programme.

The previous INTERREG V B MED Programme 2014-2020 aimed to promote sustainable growth in the Mediterranean area by fostering innovative concepts and practices (technologies, governance, innovative services). It also encouraged the sustainable use of natural and cultural resources and supported social integration, through an integrated and territorially based cooperation approach. Climate change adaptation was more or less directly covered by projects funded under Priority Axis 2 (to foster low carbon strategies and energy efficiency) and Priority Axis 3 (Protecting and promoting Mediterranean natural and cultural resources).

 

2.     Macro-region strategies

Parts of the Mediterranean region overlap with the geographic scope of two 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 whole Mediterranean territory covered by the Barcelona Convention and by the UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP-MAP). The Convention is  a regional cooperation platform that coordinates activities aimed at the protection of the marine environment through a regional approach. 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 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 that are part of the four strategic directions related to this objective. MedECC (Mediterranean Experts on Climate and Environmental Change) is a flagship initiative developed under the MSSD. It is an open and independent international scientific expert network providing support to decision-makers and the public on the basis of up-to-date sound scientific information. MedECC’s objective is to bridge the gap between scientists and policy-makers. It also aims to contribute to the improvement of policies at all levels by supporting decision-making with accurate and accessible information on current and future impacts of climate and environmental change in the Mediterranean. The network prepared the First Mediterranean Assessment Report (MAR 1) about climate and environmental change in the Mediterranean Basin, that analyses current situation and risks for the future.

Integrated coastal management (ICM) is an acknowledged tool to deal with current and long-term coastal challenges, including climate change and its impacts. The Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM Protocol) to the Barcelona Convention was developed in 2008, ratified by the European Council in 2010 and entered into force in 2011. It provides a common framework for the Contracting Parties to promote and implement ICZM. In 2019, the Contracting Parties adopted the Common Regional Framework for ICZM (CRF). Among its objectives, CRF aims to ‘address natural hazards and the effects of natural disasters, in particular coastal erosion and climate change’.

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. It also takes climate change adaptation into account. The ICZM Platform is an interactive online space. It is designed as a multi-disciplinary “bank” of information, documentation and good practices related to ICZM in the Mediterranean (and elsewhere), as well as a place for networking and exchange. It hosts the MSP workspace that supports region’s planners in developing Maritime Spatial Planning, also taking climate change challenges into account (Climate Action Planning tool).

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. It consists of all Mediterranean countries of the European Union  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  from the northern and southern sides of the Western Mediterranean basin (Algeria, France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia). The initiative, adopted by the European Commission and endorsed by the Council of the EU, 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. It 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. In 2018, the signatories of the Initiative agreed on a roadmap for the development of a sustainable blue economy in the west Mediterranean sub-basin. This roadmap should ensure preserving the services performed by the Mediterranean ecosystem. Under the roadmap priority ’Biodiversity and marine habitat conservation and restoration’, member states of the Initiative agreed to undertake actions to face coastal erosion and habitat degradation. Those actions aim to achieve the ‘good ecological status’ of the marine environment in the Mediterranean and to improve coastal areas’ resilience to climate change. 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.

The Centre for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) is a multi-partner initiative, joining countries from the northern and southern sides of the region. Development agencies, governments, local authorities, and civil society from around the Mediterranean convene to exchange ideas, discuss public policies, and identify regional solutions to address regional challenges in the Mediterranean. Under the second thematic pillar for the period 2019-2021 (Resilience: mitigation and adaptation to external shocks, mainly climate change and response to the effects of conflicts), the CMI launched the “Territorial Resilience to Climate Change Active Programme” with a multi spatial and multi sectoral approach

 

4.     Adaptation strategies and plans

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

Moving from the consideration that MPAs (Marine Protected Areas) can play an important role in climate change mitigation and adaptation, two projects supported Mediterranean MPAs to adapt to and mitigate the ongoing climate change effects in the Mediterranean Sea:   MPA-ADAPT (Guiding Mediterranean MPAs through the climate change era: building resilience adaptation, 2016-2019) and the following MPA-ENGAGE (Engaging Mediterranean key actors in Ecosystem Approach to manage Marine Protected Areas to face Climate change, 2019-2022)  The MPA Engage and MPA-ADAPT projects developed monitoring protocols and encouraged their use in every Mediterranean MPA. Through these two projects, for the first time, climate change adaptation plans were developed in selected Mediterranean marine protected areas.

The POSBEMED Project (2016-2018), recognized the role of Posidonia Oceanica residues (withered leaves, fibres and rhizomes that are regularly stranded and beached ashore) in increasing the overall resilience of the coast to natural and climate change effects. The project achieved an important progress towards a more sustainable approach for the management of Posidonia beach-dune systems. The final deliverable was a comprehensive strategy for the Mediterranean region “Governance and management of Posidonia beach-dune systems”, targeting all relevant stakeholders for decision-making processes in Posidonia coastal environments.

Knowledge and practices related to climate change impact assessment and adaptation in the Mediterranean region (and in particular toward non-EU countries) are also promoted by UNEP-MAP. They include different projects within the GEF-funded MedProgramme and several adaptation activities, implemented by the various UNEP/MAP Regional Activity Centres. 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).

Other projects were funded within the BalkanMed Programme 2014-2020. It covered a large geographical area which is partly embraced by the 2021-2027 Mediterranean transnational region. Some examples are reported below.

BeRTISS  (BalkanMed real time severe weather service) (2017-2019) involved partners from three countries (Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria). It aimed to develop a pilot transnational severe weather service to enhance the safety, the quality of life and environmental protection in the Balkan‐Mediterranean region. Early warning is also the focus of the DISARM (Drought and fire ObServatory and eArly waRning systeM) project (2017-2019), which involved partners from the same countries. It contributes to BeRTISS but focussed on different climate-related impacts (drought and wildland fires).

Wildfire events are acknowledged as one of the most relevant risks in the region. Their early detection is also the focus of the SFEDA (Forest Monitoring System for Early Fire Detection and Assessment in the Balkan-Med area) project (2017-2019).

Partners representative of all the four coastal Balkan-Mediterranean countries (Greece, Cyprus, Albania and Republic of North Macedonia) contributed to the HERMES (A Harmonised fRamework to Mitigate coastal EroSion promoting ICZM protocol implementation) project (2017-2019). HERMES, by capitalising on previous projects, developed a common framework for coastal erosion mitigation and beach restoration. This was achieved through implementing a coherent ensemble of studies, the sharing of already developed technical tools and the design of joint policy instruments.