Programme for the Assessment and Control of Marine and Coastal Pollution in the Mediterranean Region (MEDPOL)

25 October 2012 | Article



MED POL [1] is the Assessment and Control Programme for marine and coastal pollution of the Mediterranean.

The MED POL Programme is responsible for following up work related to the implementation of the Protocol on Land-based Sources, addressing protection of the Mediterranean Sea from pollution deriving from land-based sources and activities (adopted in 1980, amended in 1996), the Dumping Protocol adopted in 1975 and amended in 1995, and the Hazardous Wastes Protocol adopted in 1996, all under the Barcelona Convention.

MED POL helps Mediterranean countries to formulate and implement on-going programmes for the assessment of pollution, including measures for controlling pollution, and to develop action plans aimed at eliminating pollution of land-based origin.

As part of its implementation of article 15 of the Protocol on Land-based Sources, the MED POL coordinated preparation of the strategic action plan against pollution, identifying regional and national activities, including closely targetted objectives aimed at reducing pollution of the Mediterranean (SAP MED). Following its adoption by the Parties in 1997, the MED POL has helped them to develop national action plans which in fact represent basic policy for reducing pollution at national level.

In November, 2009, in Marrakesh, the 16th meeting of the Parties adopted programmes and measures which are legally binding and which concern biochemical oxygen demand on the part of of water purification plants, and a few persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Entering into force in June, 2010, these programmes and measures contain concrete, quantitive obligations, directly related to the reduction of pollution in the Mediterranean.

MED POL has also developed control measures aimed at eliminating pollution from land-based sources and furthermore, proposes assistance to Mediterranean countries so that they can formulate and implement programmes to assess pollution on a continuous basis.

The MED POL programme has evolved over time to adapt to global developments, the needs of the States and the Mediterranean itself. In 1999, the contracting Parties adopted the following mandate:

Mandate of the Mediterranean Pollution Assessment and Control Programme (MED POL)

The Mediterranean Pollution Assessment and Control Programme (MED POL) was established in 1975 by the very first intergovernmental meeting of the Mediterranean coastal States, convened by the UNEP to consider the formulation of a broad and complex programme for the protection of the Mediterranean area. MED POL became the first operational programme of the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) as its land-based pollution assessment and control component. The Programme went through three phases and is now in Phase IV (2006-2013). After giving emphasis to the assessment of pollution, since Phase III, MED POL has focused on pollution reduction and control.

Objective and mission statement
The objective of MED POL is to contribute to the prevention and elimination of land-based pollution of the Mediterranean. In this respect, MED POL’s mission is to assist the Contracting Parties, through planning and coordination of initiatives and actions, including promoting and catalyzing synergies and investment programmes, to meet their obligations under the Barcelona Convention and the Dumping, LBS and Hazardous Wastes Protocols; facilitate the implementation of National Action Plans to address land-based pollution and legally binding programmes concerning Hazardous Wastes; and continuously assess the status and trends of pollution in the Mediterranean.

Scope of action and key issues
MED POL’s main fields of action include:

— the assessment of the status and trends in the quality of the marine and coastal environment including health-related aspects of marine pollution;
— promoting policy reforms for the implementation of national action plans, including programmes and measures, for the reduction and gradual elimination of pollution, the mitigation of its impacts and the restoration of systems damaged by pollution;
— catalyzing and facilitating the realization by the countries of the pollution reduction actions listed in their NAPs by bridging between countries and international and regional donors and financial institutions;
— the regular assessment of loads of pollution reaching the Mediterranean, and the determination of trends in coastal areas including pollution hot spots;
— the collection, analysis and dissemination of data and information on pressures and state of the marine and coastal environment;
— capacity building and technical assistance to support the Contracting Parties in the above areas.

MED POL’s action in these fields is based on a number of principles and assumptions:

— the full integration of monitoring into the pollution control process adopted by the Contracting Parties, so as to ensure the continuous assessment of the status and trends of pressures and quality of the marine and coastal environment and the effects of pollution and to assess the effectiveness of the pollution reduction measures implemented by countries;
— the gradual application, as appropriate, of common and differentiated responsibilities in the process of reducing pollution, as agreed by the Parties, to facilitate the long-term implementation of pollution reduction policy, strategies and programmes;
— the functional harmonization of monitoring, assessment and pollution control activities, as well as data quality assurance, data collection and processing, reporting and data management policies and procedures, with those adopted by regional, international and global bodies and organizations;
— the synchronization of MED POL assessment and reporting schedules, and the harmonization of assessment and reporting procedures, with the schedules and procedures adopted for the evolving global assessment of the state of the marine environment.


Mediterranean landscape