Council authorises the signature of the Protocol on ICZM in the Mediterranean

The Official Journal of the European Union, OJEU, published on February, 4th 2009, the Council Decision on the signing, on behalf of the European Community, of the Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management in the Mediterranean to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean. This Protocol aims at implementing coastal management as to ensure sustainable development and integrating all the related economic activities, respecting the ecosystems and landscapes as well as Mediterranean cultural heritage.

The Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) in the Mediterranean Protocol provides a framework to stimulate a more concerted and integrated approach, involving public and private stakeholders including civil society and economic operators. Such an inclusive approach is required to address these problems more effectively and achieve a more sustainable development of the Mediterranean coastal zones.

The text of the ICZM Protocol was adopted by the Conference of Plenipotentiaries on January 20th 2008 and was opened for signature until January 20th 2009. This adoption followed the negotiations organised by the Barcelona Convention, where the Commission participated on behalf of the Community, in consultation with the representatives of the Member States. Provision of this Protocol follow some of the issues which were already in the agenda at the Union for the Mediterranean project, launched at the Paris Summit in July 2008, and which aimed at strengthening and deepening the cooperation between both sides of the Mediterranean.

According to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean and its Protocols, the Parties will establish a common framework for the integrated management of the Mediterranean coastal zone and will take the necessary measures to strengthen regional cooperation for this purpose. Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) is one component of the EU Integrated Maritime Policy as endorsed by the European Council held in Lisbon on December 13th and 14th 2007.

Objectives of Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM)

  1. Facilitate, through the rational planning of activities, the sustainable development of coastal zones by ensuring that the environment and landscapes are taken into account in harmony with economic, social and cultural development.
  2. Preserve coastal zones for the benefit of current and future generations.
  3. Ensure the sustainable use of natural resources, particularly with regard to water use.
  4. Ensure preservation of the integrity of coastal ecosystems, landscapes and geomorphology.
  5. Prevent and/or reduce the effects of natural hazards and in particular of climate change, which can be induced by natural or human activities.
  6. Achieve coherence between public and private initiatives and between all decisions by the public authorities, at the national, regional and local levels, which affect the use of the coastal zone.

The area to which the Protocol applies will be the Mediterranean Sea area as defined in the Convention, also defined by:

  • The seaward limit of the coastal zone, which will be the external limit of the territorial sea of Parties.
  • The landward limit of the coastal zone, which shall be the limit of the competent coastal units as defined by the Parties.

This Agreement includes provisions regarding some crucial issues such as the protection and sustainable use of the coastal zone and regulation of economic activities in the area (aquaculture, fisheries, agriculture and industry, tourism, sporting and recreational activities, energy infrastructure facilities, natural resources utilisation, and maritime activities). Special attention is granted to preservation of coastal ecosystems and landscapes, ensuring the sustainable development of the area.

According to the Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management in the Mediterranean, the Parties will also adopt, individually or collectively, all appropriate measures to preserve and protect the cultural, in particular archaeological and historical, heritage of coastal zones, including the underwater cultural heritage, in conformity with the applicable national and international instruments.

As from January 21st 2009 this Protocol shall be open for accession by any Party to the Convention. This Protocol will enter into force on the 30th day following the deposit of at least six instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.