Mediterranean Coastline is Tough to Preserve Because of Uncontrolled Development

Representatives of Mediterranean countries, participating in Mare Nostrum's opening event, emphasized the need to bridge the differences between countries and municipal authorities on how to implement ICZM principles.

Uncontrolled development along the coastline is the most common problem faced by Mediterranean Basin countries that seek to pursue coastline preservation, according to participants at the opening conference of the EU-funded Mare Nostrum Project. The four-day event emphasized the fact that countries that wish to implement the integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) Protocol of the Barcelona Convention face serious challenges in tackling on-the-ground realities.

Some thirty representatives from Greece, Malta, Israel, Jordan, Spain, Turkey, Italy, and Germany participated last week in the event, which marked the launch of Mare Nostrum, to explore new ways of preserving the Mediterranean coastline.

"We found that there is a big disparity between ICZM principles and the situation in reality," said Technion Prof. Rachelle Alterman, the initiator and coordinator of Mare Nostrum. “Full implementation of the ICZM Protocol requires very gradual change and intensive learning of land ownership issues," Prof Alterman added. "For example, in implementing the ICZM requirement of a100 meters non-building line along the entire Mediterranean coast, it is difficult to overcome the expectations of private land owners without the introduction of innovative instruments."

Prof. Alterman, the founding president of the International Academic Association on Planning, Law and Property Rights and an internationally acclaimed expert on land-use planning and law, noted that there are major differences between countries and even neighboring municipal authorities in the instruments used and their degrees of success.

"ICZM is taking place at the local level. Working at the level of municipalities and exploring how legal aspects are dealt with and how bridges and vertical integration is made among different geographical scales and administrative levels is very interesting," said Zeljka Skaricic, Director of PAP/RAC, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP/MAP) Regional Centre, specializing in ICZM. "We hope to learn more about it through Mare Nostrum because ICZM is an endeavor for all of us and implementation remains a very big challenge."

The European Union (EU) has awarded Mare Nostrum consortium $4.3 million to explore new ways of preserving the Mediterranean Sea and its coastline. The research is conducted, as part of the European Neighbourhood Partnership Instrument -Cross-Border Cooperation in the Mediterranean) program.