On November 29, 2022, Tunisia, under Decree No 2022/917, ratified the ICZM Protocol becoming the 13th Contracting Party bound by the relevant provisions. Signed in January 2008 in Madrid by 15 Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention and entered into force on March 24, 2011, following the sixth ratification of the Protocol by the Syrian Arab Republic, the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Protocol constitutes the first regional, legally binding regulatory instrument concerning coastal zone management.
The ratification of the Protocol by the President of the Maghreb country, Kais Saied, indicates a major development for all stakeholders across the Mediterranean -international organizations, NGOs, scientists, and academia- advocating for the sustainable development of coastal zones. Following the revision of the Barcelona Convention in 1995, the implementation of the sustainability principles in the coastal zones of the Contracting Parties was designated as a central pillar of UNEP/MAP initiatives. In this regard, several soft law instruments, mainly guidelines, and recommendations, were adopted, albeit they lacked the requisite degree of normative content to establish a dynamic process towards the sustainable management and use of coastal zones. As such, the Parties to the Convention, along with the technical assistance of PAP/RAC, proceeded with the adoption of the ICZM Protocol, which introduced a novel approach to the sustainable development of the coastal zones across the Mediterranean Basin.
By ratifying the Protocol, Tunisia is efficiently engaged in the implementation of the principles of integrated coastal zone management to reconcile the health of ecosystems along with social progress and economic development in the coastal context. Besides, by turning the legal provision of the Protocol into domestic law Tunisia accepts compliance and enforcement of such provisions. In this context, it is expected that coastal legislation will be further implemented in the country, as the Protocol requires the Contracting Parties, in conformity with international and regional legal regimes, to ensure the sustainable use and management of coastal zones, aiming at preserving the coastal natural habitats, landscapes, natural resources and ecosystems of the Mediterranean as well as at establishing a framework where the coastal and maritime economy is perfectly adjusted to the fragile nature of coastal zones.
In addition, the ratification of the Protocol is introducing an innovative shift in the governance system of the country. Containing provisions concerning public participation and access to information, the Protocol aims to facilitate efficient governance mechanisms by attempting to engage all the stakeholders (territorial communities and public entities, market and social actors, NGOs, and the public concerned) throughout the formulation and implementation of the relevant sustainability policies in the coastal zones. The Protocol also generates a framework that guarantees access to justice to any stakeholder challenging state decisions subject to the participation provisions of the legal instrument.
Moreover, it is noteworthy that Tunisia’s blue economy will be significantly bolstered through the implementation of the Protocol. In particular, a possible formulation of a coastal implementation plan, as outlined in Article 18 of the Protocol, would underpin the promotion of a resilient, low-carbon, resource-efficient, and socially equitable economic development contributing to the collective fight against so-called triple planetary crisis (three main interlinked issues: climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss) across the Mediterranean.
The ratification of the ICZM Protocol by Tunisia, indeed, indicates a substantial step towards sustainable development in the Mediterranean coastal zones. Ultimately, transplanting the instrument’s provisions into the realm of implementation emerges as the next challenge, and, in the context of promoting participatory environmental governance, further stakeholders’ engagement would be essential.
Sources: UNEP/MAP, PAP/RAC
- What you need to know about the ICZM Protocol that Tunisia has just ratified, UNEP/MAP, December 5th, 2022, Retrieved from:
https://www.unep.org/unepmap/news/story/what-you-need-know-about-iczm-protocol-tunisia-has-just-ratified (accessed March 12th, 2023)
- How coastal plans bolster adaptation to climate change, UNEP/MAP, November 2022, Retrieved from:
https://www.unep.org/unepmap/ar/news/story/how-coastal-plans-bolster-adaptation-climate-change (accessed March 12th, 2023)
- Barcelona Convention and Protocols, UNEP/MAP, Retrieved from:
https://www.unep.org/unepmap/who-we-are/barcelona-convention-and-protocols (accessed March 12th, 2023)
- Who are we?, PAP/RAC, Retrieved from:
https://paprac.org/who-are-we (accessed March 12th, 2023)
- Tunisia has just ratified the ICZM Protocol, PAP/RAC, Retrieved from:
https://paprac.org/news/item/la-tunisie-ratifie-le-protocole-gizc (accessed March 12th, 2023)
- ICZM Protocol, PAP/RAC, Retrieved from:
https://paprac.org/iczm-protocol (accessed March 12th, 2023)
ID & GR
About the author
MEPIELAN Centre is an international research, training and educational centre established by Professor Evangelos Raftopoulos at the Panteion University of Athens in 2008.
Before its establishment as a University Centre, MEPIELAN operated as a successful international research, training and informational programme (2002-2007) under the scientific direction of Professor Evangelos Raftopoulos and the aegis of the Panteion University of Athens, supported by the Mediterranean Action Plan/UNEP and the Greek Ministry of the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works.
MEPIELAN Centre is an accredited UNEP/MAP PARTNER (since 2013), a Member of the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development (MCSD) (since 2016), and a Member of the Steering Committee of the MCSD (since 2019).
On 22 May 2022, MEPIELAN Centre proceeded to the development of MEPIELAN as a Non- Profit Civil Organization (INGO) for the more effective and efficient advancement of its Goals and Missions and furtherance of its activities. MEPIELAN Centre as a Non- Profit Civil Organization (INGO) is registered in Greek Law (Hellenic Business Registry, Reg. No. 16477300100) in accordance with Laws 4072/2012 & 4919/2022 as applicable