The Mediterranean Sea Programme: Enhancing Environmental Security (MedProgramme)


The Mediterranean Sea Programme: Enhancing Environmental Security (MedProgramme) aims to improve the health and livelihoods of coastal populations in the Mediterranean region by reducing major transboundary environmental stresses and strengthening climate resilience and water security.

Toxic Chemicals

Knowledge is our greatest asset. Coordinating and applying our knowledge across the region is a key to successfully transition to a sustainable future.

The Mediterranean region is composed of transboundary, ecologically connected areas. Following the wisdom found in nature, the MedProgramme promotes knowledge sharing and meaningful cooperation. This is how we ensure protection and eliminate pollution.

In 2020, the Mediterranean Action Plan of the UN Environment Programme announced the launch of the MedProgramme. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded project of USD$ 43 million aims to reduce transboundary environmental stresses, strengthen climate resilience and water security, and improve the health and livelihoods of coastal populations in the Mediterranean region. 

Seven projects exist under the MedProgramme umbrella, each formed to reflect the priorities adopted by the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention to: 

  • Reduce land-based pollution in priority coastal hotspots and measuring progress to impacts;
  • Enhance sustainability and climate resilience in the coastal zone;
  • Protect marine biodiversity; and
  • Coordinate programmes and knowledge management.

The priority actions under the MedProgramme programmes focus on:

  • Hotspots of land-based sources of pollution;
  • Harmful chemicals and wastes (Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and Mercury) and excess nutrients;
  • Critical sections of the coastal zone particularly affected by climatic variability;
  • Freshwater stress and habitat degradation; and
  • Efficient and sustainable management of priority marine protected areas.


The seven MedProgramme projects build critical momentum in the region by demonstrating the power of change. From 2020-2022, these projects have deployed more than 100 coordinated actions at the regional and national level. These actions are expected to stimulate a range of positive impacts, such as: 

  • Disposal of 3,250 tons of POPs and of 50 tons of Mercury and the prevention of the use of 1,309 tons of POPs per year;
  • Development of an updated Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA), including gender assessment;
  • Investment for the de-pollution of the waters in drains and canals in the Nile Delta, Egypt;
  • Wastewater collection systems in coastal hotspots in Lebanon;
  • Ten upgraded wastewater treatment plants to improve the quality of Tunisian surface water, groundwater and coastal waters;
  • Improved management of coastal aquifers in several Mediterranean countries through Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) and Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems (WEFE) Nexus;
  • Increased resilience to climate change in Morocco and Montenegro, as well as at the regional level;
  • Expanded seascapes under protection and improved protected marine area management in Libya; and
  • Innovative and cross-cutting knowledge management and gender mainstreaming strategies that will provide a pilot for further integration into the operations of the UNEP/MAP-Barcelona Convention system.


MedWaves’s role:

When we act together, we change together.

MedWaves: converging synergies for planetary transformation. 

MedWaves is implementing the activities of the MedProgramme. 

In order to address toxic chemicals, MedWaves has proposed an innovative approach to prevent the use of toxic substances identified as country priorities. Considering the high cost of disposal and elimination of POPs and mercury-containing waste, MedWaves seeks to demonstrate the practical replacement of new POPs with the recently listed under the Stockholm Convention and mercury, now regulated under the Minamata Convention. We are ensuring the adoption of environmentally sound alternatives in three target Mediterranean countries; Tunisia, Lebanon and Morocco.

This work focuses on three chemicals in priority sectors, according to national inventories. For example, fluorosurfactant is a global pollutant (PFOS) widely used in carpets, clothing, upholstery, packaging and other materials resistant to water, grease or stains as well as in firefighting at airfields. The pilot project targets the largest users of the PFOS foam; the Civil Defence and public firefighting organisations.  

A brominated flame retardant known as HBCD (Hexabromocyclododecane) focussing on importers and manufacturers of EPS/XPS insulation panels; and short chained chlorinated paraffins (SCCP) known to be used in large quantities in the PVC production. 

In each pilot project, although the chemicals used differ, the mechanisms to effectively implement change are similar. The first point of intervention is the production of an accurate inventory of the identified priority sectors to produce a database of current users and quantities. The identified groups receive support through a coordinated awareness campaign and legal support for technical staff and political decision makers and officials. The goal of these interventions is to update legislation with mandatory provisions that restrict the import, export and use of these chemicals based on the Stockholm Convention requirements and provide technical assistance for testing and training in the adoption of environmentally sound alternatives. 

MedWaves will carry out pilot activities on mercury alternatives to prevent the use of mercury in the health sector, in particular mercury containing measuring devices. This will involve top-down and bottom-up approaches in Lebanon and Tunisia based on the approach developed by World Health Organisation, involving key public servants from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Environment and Customs as well as managers, maintenance and procurement staff who have a role in acquiring medical measurement equipment and managing current mercury containing devices and mercury waste.

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