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The Strategic Action Programme for the conservation of BIOlogical diversity 


The Mediterranean Sea is a marine biodiversity hotspot. Though it only covers 0.3% of the world’s ocean volume, it is one of the major reservoirs of biodiversity, with more than 17,000 species inventoried. This corresponds to 4-18% (according to taxonomic group) of the world’s known marine species. The Mediterranean coasts are under constant and growing human pressure. Habitat degradation, overfishing, pollution, eutrophication, overexploitation of resources, shipping, invasive species and climate change have directly led to the degradation of the marine and coastal biodiversity.


A concerted strategy for marine biodiversity conservation


To cope with the complexity and size of the pressure on marine and coastal biological diversity, the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention agreed on the need for a concerted strategy to further the implementation of the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity (SPA/BD Protocol).

Therefore, SPA/RAC developed the Strategic Action Programme for the Conservation of Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean Region (SAPBIO), which was adopted in November 2003 in Catania by the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention.

It took three years to elaborate, starting from 2001, including a wide-ranging process based on consultations with the countries to diagnose the state of marine and coastal biodiversity, to identify national priorities and to craft a National Action Plan for each of the priority themes. The results of the national consultations were compiled to elaborate the SAPBIO.


The actions identified by the SAPBIO as having priority concerned seven main axes: 


  • inventorying, mapping and monitoring Mediterranean marine and coastal biodiversity
  • conserving sensitive species, habitats and sites
  • developing research to improve knowledge and fill in gaps regarding biodiversity
  • developing skills
  • information and participation
  • increasing awareness.

The SAPBIO adopted in December 2003 has played an important role as a strategic framework for the implementation of the SPA/BD Protocol at national and regional levels. It has also helped to facilitate exchanges between relevant departments within countries and between Parties on common biodiversity conservation concerns.

Between 2008 and 2009, an action to update the SAPBIO on Climate Change issue was conducted. This action was implemented following a participative approach, which led to the elaboration of national, sub-regional and regional overviews on the vulnerability and impacts of climate change on marine and coastal biodiversity.

At their 17th Ordinary Meeting (Paris, February 2012), the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols invited the Secretariat to assess the progress made in applying SAPBIO and to define its new options at national and regional level over the coming years. The Parties stressed the importance of taking into account in this activity both the Ecological Objectives adopted for the Mediterranean in the framework of the Ecosystem Approach and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets of the CBD.


The Post-2020 SAPBIO


Based on the recommendations of the evaluation of the implementation of the SAPBIO during the period 2004-2018, the COP21 of the Barcelona Convention COP21 requested the Secretariat to prepare in 2020-2021 the Post-2020 Strategic Action Programme for the Conservation of Biological Diversity and Sustainable Management of Natural Resources in the Mediterranean Region (Post-2020 SAPBIO), aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and harmonised with the CBD Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and other relevant global and regional frameworks.

The new Post-2020 SAPBIO is not intended to be an additional layer of commitments for countries but rather a tool to strengthen and streamline the implementation of the plans and strategies they have already adopted at national and international level.

While bringing a high level of ambitions, the Post-2020 SAPBIO is designed to be action-oriented and made of activities tailored towards realistic objectives that countries could reasonably achieve with the coordination of relevant international organisations and the support of donors and funding agencies.

All the riparian countries that are signatories to the Barcelona Convention have been involved in the development of the Post-2020 SAPBIO.



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