MAP was established in 1975 as a multilateral environmental agreement in the context of the Regional Seas Programme of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Mediterranean countries and the European Community approved MAP as the institutional framework for cooperation in addressing common challenges of marine environmental degradation.
Under the auspices of UNEP/MAP, a framework convention dedicated to the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution was adopted in 1976 and amended two decades later to encompass the key concepts adopted at the landmark 1992 Rio Conference and to include coasts in its scope. The Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean (Barcelona Convention) was adopted in 1995.
UNEP/MAP and the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention – 21 Mediterranean countries and the European Union -- have progressively erected a uniquely comprehensive institutional, legal, and implementing framework integrating essential building blocks for sustainability in the Mediterranean.