The United Nations Environmental Program addresses a broad range of issues, including the health and well-being of coastal areas, estuaries and wetlands.

United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP)

United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) has recognised that almost 50% of the world’s coasts are threatened by development-related activities. The health, well-being and, in some cases, the very survival of coastal populations (about 1 billion people are living in coastal urban centres) depends upon the health and well-being of coastal systems such as estuaries and wetlands.

UNEP Regional Seas Programme

In 1974, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) launched a Regional Seas Programme. The UNEP Regional Seas Programme has emerged over the last 35 years as the prime example of how to craft a regional approach to protecting the environment and managing natural resources. The Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans cover issues ranging from chemical wastes and coastal development to the conservation of marine animals and ecosystems.

More than 143 countries participate in 13 Regional Seas programmes established under the auspices of UNEP. Seven are independently run:

  • Black Sea (Bucharest Convention);
  • North-East Pacific (Antigua Convention);
  • ROPME Sea Area (Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates);
  • Red Sea and Gulf of Aden (Jeddah Convention);
  • South Asian Seas, South-East Pacific Region; and
  • Pacific Region.

Six such programmes are directly administered by UNEP:

  • Wider Caribbean (Cartagena Convention);
  • East Asian Seas;
  • Eastern Africa Region (Nairobi Convention);
  • Mediterranean Region (Barcelona Convention);
  • NorthWest Pacific Region; and
  • Western Africa Region.

There are also independent Regional Seas programmes:

  • Arctic Regio;
  • Antarctic Region (CCAMLR);
  • Baltic Sea (Helsinki Convention);
  • Caspian Sea (Tehran Convention); and the North-East Atlantic Region (OSPAR Convention), which covers the NorthEast Atlantic and North Sea. The OSPAR Commission is made up of representatives of the Governments of 15 Contracting Parties and the European Commission, representing the European Union.

UNEP Global Programme of Action (GPA)

In addition, members of UNEP have set up a Global Programme of Action (GPA) for the protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (1995). The GPA is designed to be a source of conceptual and practical guidance to be drawn upon by national and/or regional authorities for devising and implementing sustained action to prevent, reduce, control and/or eliminate marine degradation from land-based activities.

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