The Mediterranean is the largest European sea, shared by 427 million people living in its 22 countries and territories and visited by some 175 million more every year. According to the Eurostat and the UNEP/ Plan Bleu “A Sustainable Future for the Mediterranean” (2005), the shores of the Mediterranean account for 5.7% of the world’s land mass, 7% of the world’s population and 13% of world GDP. However, despite its richness, the Mediterranean region represents one of the most vulnerable environments in the world, accounting also for 60% of the world’s “water-poor” population and 8.3% of global carbon dioxide emissions. The World Bank has estimated that the annual cost of environmental damage in some countries on the South and East coasts of the Mediterranean is above 3% of gross domestic product each year.
Over the last thirty years, numerous initiatives and organisations have identified these problems and developed several strategies and actions for their solution. In this regard, the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP), launched in 1975 with the support of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), was the first one of a series of longstanding initiatives that have been developed to decrease pollution in the Mediterranean Region. Some years later (1980), the Contracting Parties of the Barcelona Convention, aware that about 80% of the pollution in the Mediterranean Sea comes from land-based activities and sources, signed the Protocol for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution from Land-Based Sources (LBS Protocol).
Complementary to the aforementioned initiatives, the EU initiated in 2003/2004 the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which is well established nowadays as a principal vehicle for co-operation of the EU with the neighbouring countries. The ENP aims to further enhance political, security, social, economic, sectoral, scientific and cultural relations, based on jointly agreed ENP Action Plans. Implementation of the Action Plans will help to devise and implement policies and measures to promote economic growth and social cohesion, to reduce poverty and to protect the environment, thereby contributing to the long-term objective of sustainable development.
Overall the implementation of the environment section of the ENP Action Plans remains limited, reflecting the vast scale of challenges in this area . During 2008, several partner countries showed increased interest in converging with EU environmental legislation and policy. Many partner countries took steps to prepare (Jordan), review (Morocco) and implement (Jordan, Israel and Tunisia) their overall environment strategies and actions plans. Egypt took steps to review environment framework legislation. New legislation was adopted on air quality in Israel, as well as implementing legislation on waste management and environmental impact assessment in Morocco.
The evaluation of these more than 30 years of international efforts to protect the sea shows that the proposed goals have hardly been achieved, remaining the Mediterranean nowadays fragile and continuing to deteriorate. To combat this ongoing decline and improve co-ordination among already existing initiatives, the Euro-Mediterranean leaders decided in 2005 to join forces and launch Horizon 2020, an initiative to tackle the top sources of Mediterranean pollution by the year 2020. Horizon 2020 is built around four elements:
- Investment projects to reduce the most significant pollution sources focussing on industrial emissions, municipal waste and urban waste water
- capacity-building measures to help neighbouring countries create environmental administrations that are able to develop and police environmental laws at various levels (national, regional, local);
- using the EC’s Research budget to develop and share knowledge of environmental issues relevant to the Mediterranean;
- developing indicators to monitor the success of Horizon 2020.
Against this background, the European Commission has included in the 2010 Work Programme of the Environment (including climate change) Theme of the Seventh Research Framework Programme a specific topic serving the aims of Horizon 2020 and the above mentioned initiatives: ENV.2010.3.1.4-1 Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control of industrial emissions in the Mediterranean region. The topic is addressed to Mediterranean Partner Countries and aims at preparing the ground for the implementation of Best Available Techniques (BAT) to respond to particular health and environmental impacts from industrial emissions, with the overall objective of reducing the “pollution leakage” due to the displacement of polluting industries. The BAT4MED project, “Boosting Best Available Techniques in the Mediterranean Partner Countries”, arises within this context.
BAT4MED aims to analyse the potential impact of the introduction of the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) concept in the Mediterranean region. The overall objective is to ensure a higher level of environmental protection of the region, minimising the negative impacts associated with activities, products and services from key industrial sectors in Mediterranean Partner Countries (MPC). To that aim, the possibilities for and impact of diffusion of the EU Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control approach to the MPC will be assessed and the implementation of best available techniques in the national environmental programmes will be promoted and supported. The project aims to act as a catalyst for change in the MPC, while supporting the growth and leadership of European industries producing or managing environmental technologies.
Overall objective is to ensure a higher level of environmental protection, minimising the negative impacts on human health and environment of key industrial sectors in Mediterranean Partner Countries (MPC)
- To identify, assess and select the Best Available Techniques (BAT) for pollution prevention and control in key industrial sectors with the highest environmental potential benefit;
- To promote and spread the use of BAT through dissemination activities;
- To assess the possibility and the impact of diffusing the EU Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control approach to Mediterranean partner countries.