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The Post-2020 Regional Strategy for marine and coastal protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures in the Mediterranean

In 1995, the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity (SPA/BD) in the Mediterranean was adopted under the Barcelona Convention, as a regional framework for the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biological diversity in the region. Since its entry into force in December 1999, a number of marine and coastal protected areas-related strategic tools have been developed to help the Contracting Parties meet their obligations under the Protocol and under other relevant global frameworks, mainly the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).


The Roadmap to achieve Aichi Target 11 in the Mediterranean


In order to translate the CBD Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, and mainly its Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 at Mediterranean level, in 2016, the Contracting Parties adopted, at their COP 16, a Roadmap for a Comprehensive Coherent Network of Well-Managed Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to achieve the Aichi Target 11 in the Mediterranean.

In 2019, the roadmap implementation was assessed and the results presented to COP 21. Although good progress has been made, with some countries exceeding, meeting, or very close to the 10% coverage by 2020 (Aichi target 11), the region as a whole fell short.


A transformational Strategy to reach the 30 x 30 target in the Mediterranean


Based on this fact, the Contracting Parties requested SPA/RAC to elaborate an ambitious and transformational post-2020 strategy, in line with the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and other regional and global processes. The purpose was to further advance and strengthen the network of Marine and Coastal Protected Areas (MCPAs) and Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs) in the Mediterranean, meet global targets, and address the geographical imbalance, the strong bias in relation to the type of ecosystems protected, and the weak management and enforcement.

The incorporation and integration of recognized OECMs as a means to achieve the ambitious post-2020 targets would be central to the transformative approach.


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The development process and resulting Post-2020 MCPA & OECM Strategy


The MCPA & OECM Strategy was developed, in 2021, under the coordination of SPA/RAC, the guidance of the Ad hoc Group of Experts for Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean (AGEM), and in consultation with the Contracting Parties SPA/BD Focal Points, relevant national, regional and international organizations and stakeholders.

Four online meetings and consultation workshops led to the elaboration of a draft strategy that was submitted to the Barcelona Convention's governing bodies biennial meetings: the SPA/BD and MAP Focal Points meetings (June and September 2021, respectively) reviewed and endorsed the strategy, and COP 22 (Antalya, Turkey, December 2021) eventually adopted it.

The Strategy includes 5 strategic pillars and their corresponding 5 strategic outcomes, 20 outputs and indicative key actions under each output. Actions are identified at Contracting Parties level, and regional and international organization level.

The below figure shows the MCPA & OECM Strategy at a glance:


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The Post-2020 MCPA & OECM Strategy implementation and follow-up


The implementation of the MCPA & OECM Strategy will be a cooperative process and will hold at its core the effective participation and collaboration of local, national, sub-regional, and regional stakeholders, encompassing inter-governmental agencies, local communities, civil society, private sector, research/academic communities, MCPA networks, and relevant regional and international organizations.

Contracting Parties are responsible for the delivery of relevant actions at the national and local levels and for enabling effective collaboration and active participation of national and local stakeholders and other sectors.

SPA/RAC, with the support of the MAP Secretariat, will be undertaking a central role in coordinating and facilitating the delivery of the strategic outcomes through technical, logistical, and, where possible, financial support to the Contracting Parties and fostering regional collaboration between Contracting Parties and regional and international organizations and donors.

Other regional and international organizations will also play a supportive role in delivering the outcomes of the strategy through sharing best practices, building capacity, co-financing activities and advising on new tools and approaches.

The timeframe for the implementation of this strategy is 2022-2030, with a full review at mid-point (2026) and again at the end (2030).

During the 2022-2023 period, SPA/RAC is requested to develop a detailed evaluation and monitoring framework for the Strategy with the technical support of the AGEM, and submit it for consideration of the Contracting Parties at their COP 23 (December 2023).



Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs) are areas in which management has a positive impact on biodiversity conservation status, for example, fisheries restricted areas, archaeological and cultural heritage sites, etc.

This approach offers the opportunity to recognize conservation taking place in areas that are not intended to be MPAs. When they are officially recognized, OECMs will contribute to the ecologically representative and well-connected conservation systems of the global 30 by 30 target.

(The definition and criteria to identify OECMs were adopted by the CBD COP 14 in November 2018:




The strategy is further presented in the below video:

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