At their 19th Ordinary Meeting (COP 19, Athens, Greece, 9-12 February 2016), the Contracting Parties to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean (Barcelona Convention) - namely 21 Mediterranean countries and the European Union - adopted a novel and ambitious Integrated Monitoring and Assessment Programme and related Assessment Criteria (IMAP).
IMAP is a key achievement for the Mediterranean region, which will enable for the first time a quantitative, integrated analysis of the state of the marine and coastal environment, covering pollution and marine litter, biodiversity, non-indigenous species, coast, and hydrography, based on common regional indicators, targets and Good Environmental Status descriptions.
Following the approval of this ambitious framework for the integrated monitoring and assessment in the Mediterranean at COP 19, the initial implementation phase starts in 2016 through a number of steps that are expected to cover the next 3 years, i.e. :
· supporting the integration process at national level (review of country level existing national monitoring and assessment programmes in line with IMAP principles, common indicators);
· updating GES definitions and further refining the assessment criteria;
· developing a Quality Status Report at regional level in 2017.
The agreement on IMAP is a milestone in the successful history of the MAP-Barcelona Convention. It provides the basis for a solid assessment of the Good Environmental Status of the Mediterranean, and it shows again the commitment of all Contracting Parties to the protection of the environment of the Mediterranean through cooperation and dialogue.