The Specially Protected Areas Regional Activity Centre SPA/RAC (formerly RAC/SPA) is a UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP) implementing agency. It is based at Tunisia through a host country agreement with UNEP. It was established in Tunis in 1985 by decision of the Contracting Parties to the Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution (Barcelona Convention); amended in 1995 and renamed as the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean). it is entrusted with responsibility for assessing the situation of natural heritage and assisting the Mediterranean countries to implement the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean (SPA/BD Protocol), which came into force in 1999.
Within the context of the implementation of the Barcelona Convention, including the related strategies, programmes and decisions, such as the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) and the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development (MCSD), the specific objective of SPA/RAC is to contribute to the implementation of the SPA/BD Protocol. SPA/RAC’s mission is to provide assistance to Mediterranean countries in the implementation of their commitments under the SPA/BD Protocol, especially in regard to developing and promoting Specially Protected Areas (SPAs) and reducing the loss of marine and coastal biodiversity. The actions carried out by SPA/RAC are aiming for the conservation of habitats, ecosystems, sites and species in the Mediterranean taking into account sustainable management and the ecosystem approach.
With a view to furthering the implementation of the SPA/BD Protocol, SPA/RAC developed a Strategic Action Programme for the Conservation of Biological Biodiversity in the Mediterranean Region (SAP BIO), which was adopted by the Contracting Parties in 2003, and will be succeeded by a new Post 2020 SAPBIO after 202, embracing Post 2020 Global, Mediterranean and European Union concerns and conservation approaches. The SAP BIO specifically requests within its main Regional Activity number V “Capacity Building Coordination And Technical Support”, to develop specific actions with the target to “Strengthen cooperation and coordination among global observing systems and research programmes for integrated global observation, taking into account the need for building capacity and sharing of data from ground-based observations, satellite remote sensing and other sources between all countries” SPA/RAC is involved in the application of the Ecosystem Approach (EcAp) process and its seven steps roadmap, which was adopted by the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention in 2008, in synergy with the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). SPA/RAC is actively supporting the Contracting Parties to implement the Integrated Monitoring and Assessment Programme (IMAP) of the Mediterranean Sea and coasts (IMAP) which will contribute to the assessment of the Good Environmental Status (GES) of the Mediterranean Sea based on a set of agreed common indicators and targets related to Biodiversity cluster. The EcAp Process roadmap requests Contracting Parties to assess the state of the environment during a cycle of six years. The first integrated assessment based on IMAP is the 2017 Mediterranean Quality Status Report (2017 MED QSR) which gives an overview of the status of marine and coastal ecosystems and determines knowledge gaps for each IMAP common indicator. Among the main fields of action of SPA/RAC where a fully-integrated multiplatform Mediterranean network of observing and forecasting systems may play a key supportive role to the Barcelona Convention are:
• Developing research to complete the knowledge base and fill in knowledge gaps on biodiversity;
• Inventorying, mapping and monitoring coastal and marine biodiversity;
• Assessing and mitigating the impact of threats on biodiversity;
• Conserving sensitive habitats, species and sites; and
• Coordinating capacity-building and technical support. SPA/RAC routinely organises international scientific exchange meetings, training workshops, seminars and training sessions for Mediterranean countries at a multiregional scale. Also institutional partnerships support to capacity development in many fields, creating and managing diverse conservation projects with strong capacity building component, and monitoring implementation in many countries simultaneously.
Role In Project
Mainstreaming official involvement and exchanges with Mediterranean Ministries in charge of Environment and UNEP MAP official Partner organisations, as well as with Global and Regional relevant organisations; presenting work in official gatherings and retrieving feedback and synergies. coordinating and facilitating contribution to the integrated monitoring and assessment of the Mediterranean environment (IMAP) to pursue GES; capacity-building and technical support, including training.