International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

Developing the Implementation of the Black Sea Strategic Action Plan (BSSAP)

As a result of recent strong cooperation among the Black Sea countries, much of which was within the broad framework of the GEF Black Sea Environmental Programme (BSEP), an extensive effort has been made to gather, analyse and disseminate reliable information on the state of the Black Sea environment. These activities have confirmed the serious state of the commons and coastal environment and its consequences for the coastal economies of the six Black Sea countries. Particularly acute problems have arisen as a result of pollution (notably from nutrients, fecal material, solid waste and oil), a catastrophic decline in commercial fish stocks, a severe decrease in tourism and an uncoordinated approach towards coastal zone management. The transboundary nature of most of these problems, coupled with earlier political realities, was the main reason for the insufficiency of previous control measures. Only through acceptance of common but differentiated responsibilities, is it possible to take coherent actions to reverse this situation. The problems themselves, however, also have important extra-regional and global dimensions. One of the main factors in the decline of Black Sea fisheries, for example, was the massive invasion of the Black Sea by a comb jelly, Mnemiopsis leidyi, which was probably accidentally introduced one decade ago in ship-borne ballast water from the eastern seaboard of America. Unchecked by natural predators, Mnemiopsis attained a Black Sea biomass an order of magnitude higher than that of the world's annual fish harvest. Its presence in the Black Sea represents a threat to other regional seas. Similarly, quantities of persistent pollutants, such as persistent organic pollutants of global significance, reach the world ocean from the Black Sea basin and reduction in their sources to the Black Sea is an essential part of a global strategy to control them. Finally, the conservation of biodiversity in the Black Sea as well as the preservation of Black Sea habitats, vital for endangered migratory bird populations, has an important global significance. The six Black Sea coastal countries have initiated joint action to protect this unique environment. With the support from a GEF Pilot Phase programme, concrete, country-driven actions have been launched. However, because of the short time frame of the GEF Pilot Phase programme (three years, terminating on 30 June, 1996), the economic realities of the coastal countries and the recently approved GEF Operational Strategy, a new step has to be taken in order to allow a strategic reorientation of the project. While building upon the three year pilot phase activities, this project will enable the smooth transition by funding key activities to achieve the results required under the new GEF Operational Strategy on International Waters. In particular, it will allow the full development of the Black Sea Strategic Action Plan which will be consistent with the GEF Operational Strategy. In 1993, as a response to regional and global concern about the critically degraded environmental conditions in the Black Sea and to the positive policy initiative of the six Black Sea governments in subscribing to the 1992 Odessa Ministerial Declaration, a three-year GEF Pilot Phase project was approved. This project, entitled "Environmental Management and Protection of the Black Sea (RER/93/G31)" focused on three main objectives: (1) to strengthen and create regional capacities to manage the Black Sea ecosystem, (2) to develop an appropriate policy and legislative framework for the assessment, control and prevention of pollution and maintenance and enhancement of biodiversity, and (3) to facilitate the preparation of sound environmental investments. An independent evaluation of the project conducted in November 1995, revealed that "In general terms, the BSEP may be qualified as a success, and its approach towards achieving its goals could stand [as a] model for other complex regional programmes...". It also urged the GEF partners to continue their support for international actions to restore the Black Sea. During the three years since the creation of the BSEP, there has been an important additional development which has motivated the Black Sea Governments to formulate the present project brief. By early 1994, all six Governments had ratified the Bucharest Convention for the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution. The creation of a Black Sea Commission with a permanent Secretariat in Istanbul to be in place by mid-1996, will provide an essential mechanism for sustaining the achievements of the BSEP and implementing the Black Sea Strategic Action Plan. A major portion of the BSEP and its infrastructure can be gradually integrated into the Secretariat. However, there are still a number of barriers to be overcome: the legislative framework should be completed in order to operate effectively, the Odessa Declaration and the Black Sea Action Plan should be fully integrated as a single process. As required by the GEF Operational Strategy, on the basis of the transboundary water-related environmental analysis, a Strategic Action Plan (SAP) should now establish clear transboundary priorities as well as a realistic baseline for environmental commitments by the countries themselves. It also has to determine the agreed incremental costs for subsequent assistance. For this to occur, National Actions Plans addressing the priorities identified by the SAP have to be formulated and activities included in the SAP have to be realistically evaluated. In addition, it is be necessary to develop a basin-wide approach to manage pollution inputs to the Black Sea. This can only be properly achieved through full cooperation between all seventeen Black Sea basin countries, by ensuring the strategic coordination of GEF activities which should now be developed.

Other (not set)

Black Sea (LME)


Documents & Resources
General information
GEF ID 341
Project type Full-Size Project
Status closed (Project Closure)
Start Date 09 Apr 1997
End Date 01 Dec 2000
GEF characteristic:
Focal Area International Waters
GEF Allocation to project USD 1,790,000
Total Cost of the project: USD 8,745,000
YES - See results data (341)
Bulgaria , Georgia , Romania , Russian Federation , Turkey , Ukraine , Regional

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Project contacts
Iosefina Lipan Regional Support Officer for Harmonisation with the EU Water Policies
Figen Canakci-Erpek Financial Administrator
Basak Gunduz Technical Assistant on Contracting
Bill Parr Eutrophication/Marine Pollution Specialist
Vladimir Mamaev UNDP/GEF Regional Technical Advisor for International Waters for Europe, CIS and Arab States