Module 1

Unit 1.2

Introduction to the Blue Economy

University of Malta
Institute for Tourism, Travel & Culture

Focus on international
institutional frameworks


read pdf

Institutional Frameworks

Blue Economy implementation strategies are part of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 14 “Life Below Water”. This goal aims to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution; sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems; minimise and address the impacts of a growing number of environmental risks including ocean acidification; strengthen the regulation of harvesting by ending overfishing and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; conserve coastal and marine areas; increase scientific knowledge; and transfer sustainable marine technologies.

Sustainable Development Goal 14

Institutional frameworks for the Mediterranean

In the Mediterranean region, for example, international institutions such as UN Environment and its Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP), the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and the European Union (EU) work to coordinate their strategies for a sustainable Blue Economy.

This is in line with the mid-term strategy of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), the EU’s Blue Growth long term strategy that includes the EU’s Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, and the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development 2016-25 (MSSD); the latter was adopted by all the Contracting Parties of the Barcelona Convention (BC).

We will be referring to this frameworks regularly during this course.

General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM)

more info

European Commission – Blue Growth

more info

The Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development (MSSD) 2016-2025

more info

Family-run fisheries struggle as new generation casts net wider.


The European Union has stepped in to help small fishing communities preserve their way of life, as young people turn away from the job that their forebears did for generations…

more info

The Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development

The Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development (MSSD) 2016-2025 provides an integrated policy approach for all stakeholders, including MAP partners, to translate the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the regional, sub-regional, national and local levels in the Mediterranean region.

As a strategic document, the MSSD serves to:

  • adapt international commitments to regional conditions;
  • guide national strategies and stimulate regional cooperation in the achievement of sustainable development objectives.


The MSSD was adopted by all Mediterranean countries at the 19th Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention (COP 19) (Athens, Greece, 9-12 February 2016) (Decision IG.22/2).


A prosperous and peaceful Mediterranean region in which people enjoy a high quality of life and where sustainable development takes place within the carrying capacity of healthy ecosystems. This is achieved through common objectives, strong involvement of all stakeholders, cooperation, solidarity, equity and participatory governance.

Implementation of the MSSD


The implementation of the MSSD is supported by the UNEP/MAP – Barcelona Convention system, in particular through the work of the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development (MCSD).

The Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development (MCSD) was created in 1995, under the auspices of the UNEP/MAP, as the multi-stakeholder advisory body of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention and as a forum for experience sharing and peer learning on sustainable development in the Mediterranean region.

The MCSD gathers on an equal footing government representatives (22) and stakeholders (18) from various categories: local authority networks, civil society/Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), socio-economic actors, Inter-Governmental Organizations (IGOs), the scientific community, and parliamentarians.

The MSSD implementation is a collective process. The participation and efforts of all stakeholders plays a decisive role in its delivery.

The Mediterranean Sustainability Dashboard

The Mediterranean Sustainability Dashboard is a regularly updated set of indicators dedicated to the monitoring of the MSSD implementation. As international work on SDG indicators progresses, the dashboard is regularly reviewed under the guidance of the MCSD Steering Committee, with the technical support of Plan Bleu Regional Activity Centre (UNEP/MAP).

The indicators are populated to showcase observed trends, produce analytical factsheets, and prepare regional assessment and foresight studies on the interactions between environment and development. On-going work on the dashboard includes the integration of Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) indicators related to circular, green and blue economy.


The Simplified Peer Review Mechanism

The Simplified Peer Review Mechanism (SIMPEER): SIMPEER and peer learning experiences facilitate the transposition, implementation and monitoring of the MSSD and SDGs at the regional and national level, improving effective coordination between governmental departments. SIMPEER has the potential to support the preparation and follow-up of the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) presented by Contracting Parties at the UN High-Level Policy Forum (HLPF). SIMPEER helps Contracting Parties to identify common obstacles in the implementation of their national strategies on sustainable development.

Plan Bleu coordinated the two first editions of SIMPEER with France, Montenegro and Morocco in 2016-2017, and Albania, Egypt and Tunisia in 2018-2019.


The Barcelona Convention

The Barcelona Convention (for the Protection of Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean) is a regional sea programme adopted in 1995 that now entails 22 Contracting Parties.

Its main purpose is to “protect the Mediterranean marine and coastal environment while boosting regional and national plans to achieve sustainable development”. Contracting Parties regularly take part in Ministerial meetings, during which they decide on Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) strategies, budget and programme. It is therefore an important point of reference for the Mediterranean Blue Economy.

The contracting parties are: Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, the European Community, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Slovenia, Spain, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey.

The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM)

The UfM Ministers gathered in Brussels in November 2015 to promote the Blue Economy, agreed on “the need for the Mediterranean region to make the best use of the potential of the blue economy, to promote growth, jobs and investments and reduce poverty, whilst safeguarding healthy seas and developing a clear vision for the sustainable and integrated development of marine and maritime sectors at national and sea basin level”, while recognising “the need to ensure that the policies and actions required to promote the blue economy are clearly identified as priorities and reflected as far as appropriate in national strategies”.

EU, UfM, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (2015), Union for the Mediterranean Ministerial Conference on Blue Economy

more info

End of Unit 1.2

Unit 1.1
Unit 1.3