Valencia hosted the Mare Nostrum Final Conference last 24-26 November 2015. The event brought together 124 people from Public Administrations, European/Mediterranean Institutions, Universities, NGOs and specialized associations of 17 Mediterranean Countries.

The scope of the conference was to analyze the implementation process of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Protocol to the Barcelona Convention (ICZM Protocol) gathering the vision from experts and international bodies, and presenting how the process is taking place in several MED countries on the basis of the work and findings of Mare Nostrum.

The ICZM Protocol sets out a list of principles and objectives to be met by signatories, but those principles represent ideals that are not (or not fully) reflected in the legal frameworks and practices of individual countries and localities. This legal-institutional gap is the focus of the Mare Nostrum Project.

The three day event included a study visit and a two day conference devoted to discuss about the real room for bridging this legal-institutional implementation gap.



About 65 people took part in the study visit, most of them part of the Mare Nostrum project group.

The field trip comprised a visit to the waterfront of La Albufera (Valencia) one of the Mare Nostrum case studies, and a visit to Benidorm.

Visit to the waterfront of La Albufera (Valencia).

The visit covered one of the Mare Nostrum case studies selected by FEPORTS. The coastal section selected for the case study is located in the south of the city of Valencia. It is a coastal sandy fringe which measures 13 kilometres long and 1 kilometre wide. It is part of a natural park that is integrated into the Natura 2000 network and belongs to the international wetland network RAMSAR. Its environmental attributes coupled with its proximity to the city of Valencia, have conferred it a social function of extraordinary importance, making it one of the symbolic areas of its metropolitan area, among other reasons, due to the intense recreational use of its seafront.

albufera The group visiting the waterfront of La Albufera

In recent decades, human pressure has generated a multitude of degradation factors that have negatively affected the area’s natural values, creating a conflict between the growing social desire to preserve this natural area and the processes resulting from human activities carried out within and around the area. During Spain’s tourism boom in the ‘60s, the City promoted urban development plans aimed at catering to tourism in the area. The plan was partially implemented, but the development process was halted due to popular opposition in the late '70s. Since then, the three levels of the Public Administration have carried out works of environmental recovery. During the visit, officers from the Ministry of Environment and from the Municipality explained the Mare Nostrum group this process which is still underway.

Visit to Benidorm (Alicante).

The aim of this visit was to compare two opposite urban development models on-site: extensive/low density-residential vs intensive-hotel based.

Benidorm is a touristic town with a particular urban model which is unique in the Spanish Mediterranean coast. It is characterized by high concentration of formal lodging (hotels & apartments) and skyscrapers. Figures from 2014 give us an idea of the tourism potential of this coastal town: 11.2 million overnight stays and 82.4% of average occupancy supported by 8 km of coastal length.

benidormThe group visited also Benidorm.

The Councillor for Town Planning welcomed the expedition in the City Council. The reception in the auditorium included the presentations “The Paradigm of Benidorm” and “Benidorm Seafront promenades”, by the Arch. Planner of the Municipality. A discussion about urban planning issues and parameters followed the presentations.

After the reception, Officers from the Tourism Dept. guided the expedition through some particular locations of Benidorm including their beaches and the waterfront.

During the trip, explanations about the different urban development models in the Valencian coast were given by the team of the Spanish research project "Regeneration strategies of tourist settlements on the Mediterranean coast" (ERAM).


The first day of the Final Conference comprised four sessions. After the Welcome and Greetings by Prof. Rachelle Alterman, Project Coordinator, Ms. Rosa Expósito, Coordinator of the Liaison Office, Branch office for the Western Mediterranean of ENPI CBC MED and Mr. Vicente Cerdá, Director of FEPORTS, Session 1 addressed the rationale and implementation of the ICZM Protocol.

The aim of this session was to tackle the implementation process of the Protocol, gathering the vision from international bodies and presenting how the process is taking place in several MED countries. For that purpose the project consortium joined some of the persons that followed the drafting and adoption process, in order to get from them the aims in that period and their current feeling about it.

Following the discussion about the ICZM Protocol implementation, Prof. Rachelle Alterman gave a presentation about the Mare Nostrum Project, deepening on the project approach and framing the rest of conference sessions.

conferenceThe implementation process of the ICZM protocol under focus.

Session 2 was devoted to present the findings of the analysis of the coastal & planning legislation in the participating countries and how its implementation is in line with the provisions of the ICZM protocol.

The panel of the first part of this session was composed by Mare Nostrum partners who presented the situation in Greece, Israel, Malta and Spain, revising the conclusions of the national legal-institutional analysis on coastal policy implementation, and cross checking the outputs with the provisions of the ICZM Protocol.

The second part of Session 2 was devoted to present the situation in some non participating countries, giving a special focus to Mediterranean countries from North Africa: Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey and Italia.

Session 3 was devoted to the comparative analysis of the legal-institutional frameworks. This is one of the pillars of the project, since its findings are the basis for the proposed toolkit. Presentations covered the comparative analysis of Mare Nostrum local case studies and the Legal - Institutional Implementation Gaps in the Partner Countries, synthesizing the findings and the knowledge gathered during the project.


Second day started with session 4 which was devoted to present some tools as examples for a more effective ICZM implementation on some of the gaps identified by the project (eg. coastal setbacks demarcation, a very sensitive issue in coastal policy implementation).

Session 5 was devoted to show some of the pilot experiences carried out within the project in the use of the so called PPGIS (Public participation geographic information systems) tools based on coastal planning and management participatory processes, and to the presentation of the Mare Nostrum Network of NGOs. The session comprised seven interventions organized under the following themes:

  • The use of GIS Tools in Public Participation: Safeguarding the Green and Blue Open Spaces around Malta’s Grand Harbour through Public Participatory GIS (PPGIS);
  • Haifa: The Right to a Seashore;
  • Public participation through the ICZM Observatory of Kavala Municipality;
  • Mare Nostrum Network of NGOs;

Session 6 was devoted to the Spanish Coastal Law & Coastal Planning. The aim of this session was to put the focus on the implementation of the Spanish Coastal Law, recently amended, and on the coastal planning, which is key to ensure the achievement of the general goals of ICZM.

The session addressed the clashes between spatial planning (which relies in the Regional Level) and the provisions of the Coastal Law on the setback zone (National regulation) and the implementation of the Regulations, which is part of the Mare Nostrum Local Think Tank.

conference2There was a special session devoted to the Spanish Coastal Law & Coastal Planning

Session 7 put the focus on the legislative-institutional aspects in port-city relations, on the conflicts over land and planning-related issues and in particular, those that have been addressed in the comparative analysis carried out within Mare Nostrum.

Parallel Session: the Mare Nostrum Network of NGOs

During the Conference a parallel workshop took place. It was devoted to the Mare Nostrum Network of NGOs. 10 organizations from 7 countries participated in the workshop. Participants put on the table collaboration opportunities among NGOs and identified relevant conservation challenges and trends in the Mediterranean.

Closing Session: Celebrating a better managed Mediterranean coast.

This session comprised two parts: a first one by Prof. Rachelle Alterman addressing the Mare Nostrum Toolkit of Alternative Instruments, and a second one devoted to closing statements and final remarks.

During her intervention, Prof. Rachelle Alterman deepened into the Toolkit of Alternative Instruments in which Technion is working and then conducted a participatory session on legal provisions affecting land use management in coastal zones (eg. legal properties in public domain). Attendants were actively involved in this group dynamics.

Finally, Ms. Rosa Expósito, Coordinator of the Liaison Office, Branch office for the Western Mediterranean of ENPI CBC MED, and Prof. Rachelle Alterman, Project Coordinator, made some closing statements & final remarks thanking attendants, partners, speakers, organization and rest of the staff for the success of the conference.





From FEPORTS, we would like to thank all participants and partners for their contributions, and especially to the speakers for their availability and their cooperation.

Instituto Portuario de Estudios y Cooperacion de la Comunitat Valenciana - FEPORTS