Policy background

The project was designed to meet the objectives of European Union policy on ocean governance and the Union’s strategy for foreign and security policy. It coincided with the aims of the European Green Deal to address climate change and environmental degradation, and with the ambition of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 to support protected areas, restore degraded ecosystems and lead efforts to address the global biodiversity crisis.

In the 2016 Joint Communication on international ocean governance, the EU set out 50 actions to reach safe, secure, clean and sustainably managed oceans. It committed to engage with international and regional organisations and third countries to take the agenda forward. It also identified the need to reduce pressure on oceans and seas and create the conditions for a sustainable blue economy, and to agree on joint actions to protect and restore marine and coastal ecosystems, and to launch international public-private partnerships. This includes designating and managing marine areas protected from negative impacts of human activities. Through twinning projects, research funds and exchange of best practices, the EU aims to promote the expansion of marine reserves worldwide. A Progress Report on the Joint Communication was published in 2019 (with accompanying Joint Staff Working Document). In early 2021, the European Commission published the results of a 2020 consultation on the ocean governance agenda. Read more.

The Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy recognises the aim of fostering peace and human security through an integrated approach. Priorities include the prevention of conflict and the monitoring of root causes such as resource stress and climate change that can multiply threats and lead to water and food scarcity, pandemics and displacement. Recognising that environmental degradation and resource scarcity and stress know no borders, the EU supports cooperative and reciprocal relationships across regions and with the EU for mutual benefit and learning. Read more.

The European Green Deal was proposed at the end of 2019 as a strategy to transform Europe into a modern, resource-efficiency and competitive economy. It aims to turn climate and environmental challenges into opportunities, and make the transition just and inclusive for all. The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 is one of several new policy initiatives launched under the Green Deal, designed to put Europe on the path to ecological recovery, to unlock new funding for biodiversity and to make the EU a world leader in addressing the global biodiversity crisis.

The project contributed to meeting several of the EU’s global commitments, including:

  • The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and in particular Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 (and 14.2).
  • The Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which states that it is important to “ensure the integrity of […] oceans”.
  • The Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD), which stresses the importance of oceans and coastal ecosystems and the need to better care and manage them, underlining the dangers of the negative effects of multiple pressures, such as over-exploitation, climate change, acidification, pollution, and habitat loss and degradation.

Transatlantic MPA project (2016-2019) 

This project built on the collaboration and results achieved during a pilot project in the Atlantic basin implemented in 2016-2019 (‘Cooperation with Northern and Southern Transatlantic Dimension – MPAs’ and its extension period). It developed the Atlantic scoping study and three twinning projects: Cooperation and common strategy between MPA networks of managers in the Atlantic region; MPAs and costal resilience, coping with rapid changes; Marine mammals’ protection, a way to enhance transatlantic cooperation between MPAs. One key lesson that came out of the transatlantic pilot project was the important role that an MPA manager can play as a mediator between other stakeholders to promote more resilient territorial management.

Images: (top) European Parliament. Credit: Guillaume Périgois. (right) European Union flag. Credit: Christian Wiediger.
Images: (top) European Parliament. Credit: Guillaume Périgois. (right) European Union flag. Credit: Christian Wiediger.