The MedProgramme: Enhancing Environmental Security in the Mediterranean

Nine countries from the Mediterranean and a plethora of partners have joined forces in one programme that aims to reduce major transboundary environmental stresses in the Mediterranean coastal areas, strengthen climate resilience and water security and improve the health and livelihoods of coastal populations.

The Mediterranean region, surrounded by 22 countries sharing a coastline of 46,000 km, is home to around 480 million people. The region is characterized by a unique and rich, yet fragile biodiversity, and diverse ecosystems, which together form an invaluable natural capital on which populations and economies depend on.

A region under threat

Currently, a range of human activities threatens many of these species and ecosystems. Densely and increasingly populated coastal regions, coupled with tourism activities – the Mediterranean region hosts one-third of the world’s tourism – generate high pressures on the quality and security of supply of critical resources such as water, food and energy, also resulting in often critical impacts on vulnerable coastal and marine ecosystems and habitats. The increasingly vulnerable coastal zones must cope with relentless urban pressures, coupled with the rising impacts of climate change, including erosion and the salinization of river deltas and aquifers that underpin livelihoods and food security.

To address this multiplicity of threats, nine countries from the Mediterranean basin, namely Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lebanon, Libya, Montenegro, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt and a plethora of partners will be working together on different levels to tackle these problems through 8 interconnected Child Projects have joined forces. The GEF/UN Environment “Mediterranean Sea Programme (MedProgramme): Enhancing Environmental   Security” (2019-2024) represents the first GEF programmatic multi-focal area initiative in the Mediterranean aiming to operationalize priority actions to reduce major transboundary environmental stresses in its coastal areas, while strengthening climate resilience and water security and improving the health and livelihoods of coastal populations.

Implementing the Nexus approach to address major transboundary issues

Throughout the Mediterranean, Water, Energy, Food and the Environment sectors have been dealt with unilaterally with regard to the policy development, management and investment planning, mostly through separate regulatory and institutional frameworks and related strategies, priorities and infrastructure. However, it is being increasingly realized that through such fragmented approaches it is difficult - or even impossible - to achieve sustainable management of and security in any of these sectors.

Under the Nexus approach linkages among the relevant sectors will be identified and existing or potential trade-offs will be assessed with the aim to identify solutions that will foster security of supply for these resources and efficiency in their use, while reducing impacts and risks on ecosystems.

Child Projects 2.1 and 2.2: Objectives, Components & Activities – applying impactful measures to protect Mediterranean coasts, ecosystems and livelihoods

Child project 2.1 “Mediterranean Coastal Zones: Water Security, Climate Resilience and Habitat Protection” has planned a set of activities aimed at assisting countries, coastal zone managers and populations to protect and use sustainably the available coastal freshwater supply threatened by evolving climatic conditions, pollution, and competition at the water nexus, and to adopt coastal zone management and land use policies respectful of the intrinsic vulnerabilities, carrying capacity, and cultural, social and economic functions of the Mediterranean coasts and ecosystems.

Executed by PAP/RAC, Plan bleu, Global Water Partnership-Med and UNESCO IHP, the Project is structured around 2 Components:

  • Component 1: Coastal Zone Management executed by PAP/RAC, Plan Bleu and GWP Med
  • Component 2: Management of Coastal Aquifers and Related Ecosystems executed by UNESCO IHP

Under Component 1, GWP-Med is contributing to the ICZM Strategy for Lebanon and the ICZM Plan for Morocco that are led by PAP/RAC. GWP-Med offers to the process the results from the application of a Nexus approach in Lebanon (National level) and in Morocco (TTAH region) (under CP 2.2). As such:

  • Pressures on the coastal area due to upstream causes are acknowledged by considering the source-to-sea continuum and;
  • Interlinkages in the policy/thematic areas of priority are identified along with key cross-sectoral actions that produce synergistic positive effects in solving the root causes of degradation.

Under Child Project 2.2 “Mediterranean Coastal Zones: Managing the Water-Energy-Food and Ecosystems Nexus” a set of activities are planned aimed at balancing competing water uses through integrated governance around water, energy, food and ecosystems, to enhance environmental security and sharing of benefits. The Project will be key in informing the policy and management paradigm of natural resources in the Mediterranean through the introduction of practical assessments and consultation approaches related     to Nexus striving to link these with investment development, allowing the Water and Environmental policy  and management approaches at the coastal and marine area to be informed by and/or inform the Energy and Agricultural decision making. Overall, by using the Nexus approach, the “Source-to-Sea” approach goes beyond Environment and Water objectives, addressing Energy and Agriculture considerations, thus facilitating sectoral and spatial integration through tracing the  drivers and the solutions of interlinked challenges faced within and beyond the coastal zone.

Executed by the Global Water Partnership-Mediterranean (GWP-Med), the Child Project 2.2 envisages to achieve its objectives though activities structured in 4 Components:

  • Component 1: Institutional Strengthening throughout the region

This component aims at Enhanced Regional (i.e Mediterranean-wide) and National Capacities on the use of the Nexus approach to address land-based issues through the organisation of Regional Nexus Roundtables and Trainings targeting decision-makers of all nine MedProgramme beneficiary countries and the preparation of a Mediterranean Nexus study that will offer conceptual and technical background for these activities, along with other relevant materials.

  • Component 2: Addressing Nexus issues affecting priority coastal zones of the Mediterranean Large Marine Ecosystem 

This component aims to identify and strengthen interlinkages among Nexus sectors in Albania, Lebanon and Morocco through the preparation of Nexus Assessment and Policy Dialogues and the development of Nexus strategies or Nexus Action Plans, steered by new or existing inter-institutional bodies, and feeding into policy making.

  • Component 3: Testing and upscaling Nexus solutions 

This Component aims at:

            a. Identification of traditional or novel Nexus solutions;

            b. Assessment of replication potential and feasibility of four already applied                                 Nexus solutions;

            c. Testing of two novel applications and assessment of their replication potential                        and feasibility.

  • Component 4: Consultation and outreach

This component aims to ensure the medium and long-term sustainability of results by engaging relevant stakeholders from all beneficiary countries through specific targeted activities.

GEF Lead Implementing Agency: UNEP. Other GEF Implementing Agency: European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Leading Executing Agency: UN Environment/MAP. Executing partners: UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (IHP), European Investment Bank (EIB), Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP-Med), WWF Mediterranean Programme Office (WWF MedPO), IUCN, Priority Actions Programme Regional Activity Centre (PAP/RAC), Plan Bleu Regional Activity Centre (Plan Bleu), Specially Protected Areas Regional Activity Centre (SPA/RAC) and the Sustainable Consumption and Production Regional Activity Centre (SCP/RAC).