Barcelona Convention

Barcelona Convention

Map showing the parties of the convention.

The 1976 Barcelona Convention for Protection against Pollution in the Mediterranean Sea is a regional convention to prevent and abate pollution from ships, aircraft and land based sources in the Mediterranean Sea. This includes, but is not limited to, dumping, run-off and discharges. Signers agreed to cooperate and assist in dealing with pollution emergencies, monitoring and scientific research. The convention was last amended in 1995.

The Barcelona Convention and its protocols, together with the Mediterranean Action Plan, form part of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Regional Seas Programme.


The key goal of the convention is to 'reduce pollution in the Mediterranean Sea and protect and improve the marine environment in the area, thereby contributing to its sustainable development' [1]. To achieve this a number of aims and commitments have been composed.


  • To prevent, reduce, combat and, as far as possible, eliminate pollution in the Zone of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • To attain the objective of sustainable development, taking fully into account the recommendations of MCSD.
  • To protect the environment and to contribute to sustainable development:
    • By applying the precautionary principle and that the polluter should pay
    • By performing Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA)
    • By promoting cooperation between coastal States in EIA procedures.
    • To promote the integrated management of coastal zones, taking into account the protection of zones of ecological and landscape interest and the rational use of natural resources. To apply the Convention and its Protocols:
    • By adopting programmes and measures with defined deadlines for completion.
    • By using the best techniques available and the best environmental practices.
  • To formulate and adopt Protocols that prescribe agreed measures, procedures and regulations to apply the Convention.
  • To promote, within the relevant international bodies, measures relating to the application of sustainable development programmes and environmental protection, conservation and rehabilitation and the natural resources of the Mediterranean Sea.


Members agreed to take specific measures:

  • against pollution due to dumping from ships and air planes and against incineration at sea,
  • against pollution due to discharges from ships,
  • against pollution caused by prospection for, and exploitation of, the continental shelf, the seabed and its subsoil,
  • against land-based pollution,
  • to cooperate in pollution incidents giving rise to situations of emergency,
  • to protect biological diversity,
  • against pollution due to transboundary movements of dangerous wastes and to eliminate them,
  • to monitor pollution,
  • to cooperate in science and technology
  • to apply environmental legislation, and
  • to facilitate public access to information and public participation.


Originally, in 1976, fourteen states (contracting parties) and the European Union signed the convention. During the review in 1995 all parties signed again. It came in effect on February 12, 1978. The 1995 amendments have yet to be ratified by all members. Members are all countries with a Mediterranean shoreline as well as the European Union. NGOs with a stated interest and third party governments are allowed observer status.

The convention is applicable to the 'Zone of the Mediterranean Sea'. This is defined as 'the maritime waters of the Mediterranean as such, with all its gulfs and tributary seas, bounded to the west by the Strait of Gibraltar and to the east by the Dardanelle Strait'. Members are allowed to extend the application of the convention to the coastal areas within their own territory.

See also

External links

  • Governing Instruments of the Mediterranean
  • UNEP Regional Seas programme - Barcelona Convention
  • UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan for the Barcelona Convention
  • EUROPE: Barcelona Convention: protecting the Mediterranean Sea, acts and protocols