Focus on the COP22: what are territories doing to preserve the coastline in the Mediterranean?

Published : Tuesday 15 November 2016

In the framework of the COP22, IPEMED wanted to organise an event to exchange on the role of territories to preserve the coastlines in the Mediterranean.

This event took place in the multi-actor Pavilion of Comité 21 / Club France Développement Durable, on 15th November. It was led by Kelly ROBIN, project manager at the institute, and gathered:
Driss AZARIZ, founder of AZAD Environnement and member of the MEDCOP Climate Experts’ Committee;
Anne-France DIDIER, Director of Plan Bleu;
Agnès LANGEVINE, vice-President of the Region Occitanie / Pyrénées-Méditerranée in charge of the Energy and ecological transition, of Biodiversity, of Circular economy and Waste.

Following the challenges that were pointed out during the MEDCOP Climate, this event enabled to highlight the major climate and environmental challenge facing the Mediterranean:

  • The impacts of climate change (rising sea levels between 0.20m and 0.60m by 2100*, acidification and warming of oceans disturbing the ecological balance**, etc.) are threatening the adaptation of coastal zones, especially as Southern Mediterranean countries are facing a high demographic growth, and an exponential urbanisation, with a concentration of its population on its shores;
  • The activities linked to the coastal economy (fishery, tourism, maritime transports, offshore exploration, etc.) have a major impact on marine and coastal ecosystems, as indicated in the last WWF report on blue growth. It is therefore necessary to reach a balance between the development of economic activities and the preservation of the coastline and marine resources.

Coastline protection: the difficulty of implementing the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols

The Barcelona Convention of 1976 for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region enabled to offer a constraining regional framework in the Mediterranean, which then led to the creation of seven specific Protocols (among which the Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management in the Mediterranean – ICZM). Regional Activity Centres of the Mediterranean Action Plan were also created and dedicated to the implementation of the Convention in each country, as the RAC/MAP had acquired a strong reputation in the ICZM. As Anne-France DIDIER recalled, these actions went hand in hand with the implementation of pilot projects at the territorial scale, following the example of the management of coastal zones programme (MCZ), that favoured a participatory governance of the project, according to a method developed by the Plan Bleu (IMAGINE).

However, given the significance of climate change challenges in the Mediterranean, all the participants highlighted the importance of raising awareness in actors and of implementing adapted territorial strategies that take into account the (sometimes negative) results of former policies (massification of tourism, etc.).

How to rethink the sustainable land planning of territories in the face of climate change?

Agnès LANGEVINE shared these observations. She recalled the prospective construction “Plan Littoral 21”, launched in July 2016 by the new Region Occitanie aiming at reconciling, in a sustainable manner, economic and sustainable development. She also presented the actions implemented by the Region in terms of spatial relocation and the decline of certain activities, in cooperation with the territory’s actors, following the example of the new “Tourism Pact”.

Driss AZARIZ compared these examples to Morocco. Indeed, the advanced regionalisation of Morocco enables to provide Moroccan regions with new skills. In this regard, Regional Development Plans are being created. They will be complemented with Territorial Plans for the fight against climate change (PTCR), that will be developed to complete the National Plan according to local specificities. The Region Souss-Massa attaches great importance to the sea and the coastline in the development of the PTCR in terms of attenuation and adaptation. For information purposes, Driss AZARIZ recalled the projet de la ceinture bleue [blue belt project] launched by the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Fishery.  This initiative, dedicated to marine fishery, follows the “Blue Growth” initiative promoted by the FAO. It aims at developing coastal observation integrated systems and at encouraging actions for sustainable fishery throughout the value chain.

Yet, all these programmes require a closer collaboration with research institutes (such as l’INRAH) and all the present actors.

Towards new models of “environmental governance” in territories?

For Agnès LANGEVINE and Driss AZARIZ, the key to sustainable land planning, and especially coastlines, relies on the implementation of consultation tools for actors. In this regard, the Parlement de la Mer  [Sea Parliament] of the Region Occitanie is an original model that works both as a dialogue body and a place of appropriation of the challenges linked to the protection of marine coastlines.

The participants reacted to the example of Occitanie and they called for a new governance framework in the Mediterranean, including not only States, but also communities, the civil society, the private sector, etc. to work in favour of environmental protection.


* Source: Plan Bleu
** For a more detailed study, refer to: Changement climatique et littoral méditerranéen : comprendre les impacts, construire l’adaptation - Synthèse des programmes de recherche CIRCLE-Med 2008-2011

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