The UNEP Regional Seas Programme is UNEP’s most important regional mechanism for conservation of the marine and coastal environment since its establishment in 1974. It is an action-oriented programme that implements region-specific activities, bringing together stakeholders including governments, scientific communities and civil societies. These Multilateral Environmental Agreements are governed by their own meetings of the Contracting Parties.
To date, UNEP’s Regional Seas Programme consists of three types of Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans (RSCAPs), across 18 different regions:
- UNEP-administered – These RSCAPs have been established and are directly administered by UNEP who provides Secretariat functions, managing of finances and technical assistance. UNEP administers 5 regional seas conventions and 2 action plans. These are: Caribbean Region, East Asian Seas, Eastern Africa Region, Mediterranean Region, North-West Pacific Region, Western Africa Region.The Regional Office for Europe administers the Tehran Convention (Caspian Sea)
- Non-UNEP administered – These RSCAPs have been established under the auspices of UNEP, but another regional body provides the Secretariat and administrative functions. These are: Black Sea Region, North-East Pacific Region, Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, ROPME Sea Area, South Asian Seas, South-East Pacific Region, Pacific Region
- Independent – These RSCAPs have not been established by UNEP but cooperate with the Regional Seas Programme and attend regular meetings. These are: Arctic Region, Antarctic Region, Baltic Sea, North-East Atlantic Region