Regional Seas Programme
Status of initiative: On track
Description/achievement of initiative

The Regional Seas Programme, launched in 1974 in the wake of the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm, is one of UNEP’s most significant achievements in the past 35 years.The Regional Seas Programme aims to address the accelerating degradation of the world’s oceans and coastal areas through the sustainable management and use of the marine and coastal environment, by engaging neighbouring countries in comprehensive and specific actions to protect their shared marine environment. It has accomplished this by stimulating the creation of Regional Seas programmes prescriptions for sound environmental management to be coordinated and implemented by countries sharing a common body of water.Today, more than 143 countries participate in 13 Regional Seas programmes established under the auspices of UNEP: Black Sea, Wider Caribbean, East Asian Seas, Eastern Africa, South Asian Seas, ROPME Sea Area, Mediterranean, North-East Pacific, Northwest Pacific, Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, South-East Pacific, Pacific, and Western Africa. Six of these programmes, are directly administered by UNEP.

Implementation methodologies

The Regional Seas programmes function through an Action Plan. In most cases the Action Plan is underpinned with a strong legal framework in the form of a regional Convention and associated Protocols on specific problems. Furthermore, 5 partner programmes for the Antarctic, Arctic, Baltic Sea, Caspian Sea and North-East Atlantic Regions are members of the RS family.All programmes reflect a similar approach, yet each has been tailored by its own governments and institutions to suit their particular environmental challenges.The work of Regional Seas programmes is coordinated by UNEP’s Regional Seas Branch based at the Nairobi Headquarters. Regional Coordination Units (RCUs), often aided by Regional Activity Centres (RACs) oversee the implementation of the programmes and aspects of the regional action plans such as marine emergencies, information management and pollution monitoring.

Arrangements for Capacity-Building and Technology Transfer

Coordination mechanisms/governance structure


UN-Ocean agencies, participating Governments, IUCN, regional organisations such as Western Indian Ocean Marine Scientist Association, etc.) UNEP function as coordinator of all regional seas programmes including those involving SIDS UNEP administers all the regional seas programmes involving SIDS, except SPREP and the one for South Asian Seas (hosted by SACEP)
Resources devoted to implementation
Progress reports
Cut off date each year: 1 July
This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Date of completion: ongoing
Operating in countries
Partner connections
Contact information/focal point(s)
Regional Seas Programme , regionalseas@unep.org

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