Regional Seas Programme

The Regional Seas Programme - a framework for regional coordination and cooperation to protect shared resources

The Regional Seas Programme, launched in 1974 in the wake of the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm, is one of UNEP's most significant achievements in the past 30 years.

The Regional Seas Programme aims to address the accelerating degradation of the world's oceans and coastal areas through the sustainable management and use of the marine and coastal environment, by engaging neighbouring countries in comprehensive and specific actions to protect their shared marine environment. It has accomplished this by stimulating the creation of Regional Seas programmes prescriptions for sound environmental management to be coordinated and implemented by countries sharing a common body of water.

Today, more than 140 countries participate in 13 Regional Seas programmes established under the auspices of UNEP: Black Sea, Wider Caribbean, East Asian Seas, Eastern Africa, South Asian Seas, ROPME Sea Area, Mediterranean, North-East Pacific, North-West Pacific, Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, South-East Pacific, Pacific, and Western Africa. Six of these programmes, are directly administered by UNEP. Furthermore, 5 partner programmes for the Antarctic, Arctic, Baltic Sea, Caspian Sea and North-East Atlantic Regions are members of the RS family. All programmes reflect a similar approach, yet each has been tailored by its own governments and institutions to suit their particular environmental challenges.

The Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans (RSCAPs) provide a platform for the implementation of marine and coastal policies at the regional and national level.

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