United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

The MerMéd Project. To see the Mediterranean Sea Reign Again ! The Rights of the Mediterranean Sea as a Legal Entity : A science based feasibility study

IRD (French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development) (
Scientific community
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#OceanAction46735
    Description
    Description

    The Mediterranean Sea is in dire straits. As made clear by a rich scientific literature, its biodiversity has never been under such harsher impacts from man-made pollutions and disturbances of all sorts aggravated by climate-change induced negative variations of its physical-chemical-biological integrity. Because, yes, the Mediterranean Sea is a living entity. Despite countless calls to improve its situation and existing binding international rules and coastal States’ legislation to protect it, several European Union Directives and largely funded schemes, even with numerous public and private initiatives or the sincere and strong mobilisation of international and regional organisations, international and national NGOs, nothing really changes. Here again, a dispassionate analysis reveals that existing legal rules – and it is a worldwide phenomenon – have shown their limits and many international objectives of past decades to protect marine and terrestrial biodiversity have sadly failed to be met. We therefore propose to undertake a Voluntary Commitment consisting of a scientific feasibility study, for recognising the Mediterranean Sea as a legal entity with its own rights. Like Pacha Mama in Ecuador (2008) and the Amazon River in Colombia (2016), Whanganui River in New Zealand, Ganges/Yamouna rivers in India (2017), the Magpie river in Quebec (2021) and recently the Mar Menor Lagoon (April 2022) in the Murcia region of Spain, just to name a few. In addition to the many technical aspects from a legal point of view (international law of the sea, marine environmental law of coastal States, blue economy issues, etc.) to move towards the recognition of the Mediterranean Sea as a legal entity, the issues at stake in terms of protection of marine biodiversity, international relations and regional geopolitics are extremely important. The study of the very perception of the Mediterranean Sea over the centuries and across the region will be a major contribution. The feasibility study will be accompanied by awareness raising, capacity building in marine protection. Participatory methods will be strongly mobilised. The final report of the VC, in time in 2025 for the 3rd UN Oceans Conference co-organised by France and Costa Rica, should outline the rights of the Mediterranean Sea as a legal entity, the rights and duties of coastal States, and the criminal sanctions for non-compliance with the Mediterranean Seas’s own rights. The feasibility study could be structured around three axes: 1. The state of play of the law (international law, regional law, law of coastal States) applicable to the Mediterranean and the issues at stake. 2. Why recognise the Mediterranean Sea as a legal entity: historical, cultural, biological, physical, and chemical reasons etc. for a holistic approach. This will include an update of previous ecological studies. 3. Prospective: what rights should the Mediterranean Sea be recognized? what socially and politically acceptable “human face(s)” to represent it and defend it can be imagined? Where else this solution could be transposed? IRD will coordinate the research (with thematic calls for papers) with the help of the 6 identified official partners. A steering scientific committee will be set up.

    Partners

    Centre International de Droit Comparé de l’Environnement – (NGO - Contact Pr. Michel Prieur - michel.prieur@unilim.fr) Institut Jean Nicod /CNRS-EHESS (Scientific Community - Contact Pr. Roberto Casati casati@ehess.fr) University of Malta (Academic Institution - Contact Pr. Godfrey Baldacchino godfrey.baldacchino@um.edu.mt) Università Sapienza di Roma ((Academic Institution - Contact Pr. Matteo Aria matteo.aria@uniroma1.it) Università del Salento (Academic Institution - Contact Pr. Fabio Pollice - segreteria.rettore@unisalento.it) Centre de Recherches et de Documentation sur l’Océanie /CREDO-EHESS) (Scientific Community - Contact Marc Tabani marc.tabani@pacific-credo.fr)

    Goal 14

    Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

    Goal 14

    14.1

    By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution

    14.1.1

    (a) Index of coastal eutrophication; and (b) plastic debris density

    14.2

    By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans

    14.2.1

    Number of countries using ecosystem-based approaches to managing marine areas

    14.3

    Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels

    14.3.1
    Average marine acidity (pH) measured at agreed suite of representative sampling stations

    14.4

    By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics

    14.4.1
    Proportion of fish stocks within biologically sustainable levels

    14.5

    By 2020, conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information

    14.5.1
    Coverage of protected areas in relation to marine areas

    14.6

    By 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the World Trade Organization fisheries subsidies negotiation

    14.6.1

    Degree of implementation of international instruments aiming to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

    14.7

    By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism

    14.7.1

    Sustainable fisheries as a proportion of GDP in small island developing States, least developed countries and all countries

    14.a

    Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries

    14.a.1
    Proportion of total research budget allocated to research in the field of marine technology

    14.b

    Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets

    14.b.1

    Degree of application of a legal/regulatory/policy/institutional framework which recognizes and protects access rights for small‐scale fisheries

    14.c

    Enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources, as recalled in paragraph 158 of "The future we want"

    14.c.1

    Number of countries making progress in ratifying, accepting and implementing through legal, policy and institutional frameworks, ocean-related instruments that implement international law, as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, for the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and their resources

    Goal 15

    Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

    Goal 15

    15.1

    By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements

    15.1.1
    Forest area as a proportion of total land area
    15.1.2
    Proportion of important sites for terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity that are covered by protected areas, by ecosystem type

    15.2

    By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally

    15.2.1
    Progress towards sustainable forest management

    15.3

    By 2030, combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world

    15.3.1
    Proportion of land that is degraded over total land area

    15.4

    By 2030, ensure the conservation of mountain ecosystems, including their biodiversity, in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development

    15.4.1
    Coverage by protected areas of important sites for mountain biodiversity
    15.4.2
    Mountain Green Cover Index

    15.5

    Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species

    15.5.1
    Red List Index

    15.6

    Promote fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and promote appropriate access to such resources, as internationally agreed

    15.6.1
    Number of countries that have adopted legislative, administrative and policy frameworks to ensure fair and equitable sharing of benefits

    15.7

    Take urgent action to end poaching and trafficking of protected species of flora and fauna and address both demand and supply of illegal wildlife products

    15.7.1
    Proportion of traded wildlife that was poached or illicitly trafficked

    15.8

    By 2020, introduce measures to prevent the introduction and significantly reduce the impact of invasive alien species on land and water ecosystems and control or eradicate the priority species

    15.8.1
    Proportion of countries adopting relevant national legislation and adequately resourcing the prevention or control of invasive alien species

    15.9

    By 2020, integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts

    15.9.1

    (a) Number of countries that have established national targets in accordance with or similar to Aichi Biodiversity Target 2 of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 in their national biodiversity strategy and action plans and the progress reported towards these targets; and (b) integration of biodiversity into national accounting and reporting systems, defined as implementation of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting

    15.a

    Mobilize and significantly increase financial resources from all sources to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity and ecosystems

    15.a.1

    (a) Official development assistance on conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity; and (b) revenue generated and finance mobilized from biodiversity-relevant economic instruments

    15.b

    Mobilize significant resources from all sources and at all levels to finance sustainable forest management and provide adequate incentives to developing countries to advance such management, including for conservation and reforestation

    15.b.1

    (a) Official development assistance on conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity; and (b) revenue generated and finance mobilized from biodiversity-relevant economic instruments

    15.c

    Enhance global support for efforts to combat poaching and trafficking of protected species, including by increasing the capacity of local communities to pursue sustainable livelihood opportunities

    15.c.1
    Proportion of traded wildlife that was poached or illicitly trafficked
    Name Description
    14.1 <p>By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution</p>
    14.2 <p>By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans</p>
    14.3 <p>Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels</p>
    14.4 <p>By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics</p>
    14.5 <p>By 2020, conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information</p>
    14.6 <p>By 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the World Trade Organization fisheries subsidies negotiation</p>
    14.a <p>Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries</p>
    14.c <p>Enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources, as recalled in paragraph 158 of "The future we want"</p>
    17.14 <p>Enhance policy coherence for sustainable development</p>

    A multidisciplinary symposium  on the Ocean as legal entity in early 2023 in Marseille FRANCE

    Publication at various stages of the project of Articles in Law (International and Mediterranean Coastal States) and other scientific journals on Oceans and seas as a legal entities.

    Final report on the Voluntary Commitment (2025)

    In-kind contribution
    “Research time” (Senior scientists, post-doctoral fellows, PhD students and Masters) from IRD and Partner research institutes and universities
    Financing (in USD)
    Funds provided by IRD and partners to organize the launch seminar in Marseille France (travel and stay) and the final conference in one of the partner institution
    No progress reports have been submitted. Please sign in and click here to submit one.
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    Timeline
    08 June 2022 (start date)
    07 June 2025 (date of completion)
    Entity
    IRD (French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development)
    SDGs
    Other beneficiaries

    The Mediterranean Sea itself, its water, its marine and birds’ biodiversity. Coastal States in the Mediterranean Basin, their populations. Scientific Communities from major universities around the Mediterranean Sea Conservation Communities from States around the Mediterranean Sea

    Ocean Basins
    Global
    Communities of Ocean Action
    Marine pollution, Sustainable blue economy, Scientific knowledge, research capacity development and transfer of marine technology, Implementation of international law as reflected in United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
    More information
    Countries
    France
    France
    Italy
    Italy
    Malta
    Malta
    Headquarters
    MARSEILLE - FRANCE
    Contact Information

    VÍCTOR, Research Fellow