Protecting 30% of the Mediterranean: Towards a Sustainable Future

Published 25.02.2024


Protecting 30% of the Mediterranean: Towards a Sustainable Future

Surrounded by more than 20 countries, the Mediterranean Sea has been the epicentre of history and life for centuries. Its waters are home to some 17,000 marine species, 7.5% of the world's marine fauna, and 18% of the world’s marine flora.

Today, it faces an unprecedented crisis due to human pressure, overfishing, pollution, and other environmental challenges.

At the end of 2022, the 195 countries that have ratified or accepted COP15 signed the 30x30 agreement to protect 30% of oceans and land by 2030 and ensure that at least 10% of these areas have strict protection.

There are less than six years to 2030. We must work to achieve these protection targets, not only in the Balearic Sea but throughout the Mediterranean. This requires a coordinated effort between different countries (and in Spain, between different autonomous communities) to establish marine protected areas and marine refuges that safeguard our unique biodiversity.

The challenge is important. The 30x30 is possibly one of the most ambitious initiatives in the field of biodiversity being carried out at a global level. But if we succeed, we will have a tool to tackle the climate and biodiversity crisis that affects us all. A recent study coordinated by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) reveals that the Mediterranean is one of the most threatened marine ecosystems on the planet, with a high concentration of invasive species and an accelerated loss of natural habitats. It is also a sea that is warming 2 to 3 times faster than other seas on the planet.

The European Union supports the 30x30 and 10x30 commitments, reflected in its Biodiversity Strategy 2030. Spain, committed to leading these objectives, has expressed its support for the EU strategy and seeks to meet these protection quotas, especially in the marine environment. The autonomous communities of the Spanish Mediterranean also play a key role in this process.

Currently, 1.7% of the Balearic Sea is highly protected, and at Marilles Foundation, we are working to reach 10% by 2030 through the Balearic Blue Deal. Beyond regional borders, we are working with the Med Sea Alliance project to ensure that both in Spain and in the Mediterranean as a whole these levels of protection are achieved. Political leaders, local communities, and society as a whole must join this collective effort to ensure a sustainable future for our future generations.