New Project to Improve Environmental Monitoring in the Black Sea

20 Jun 2013


Odessa: A NEW project aimed at protecting the environment of the Black Sea has been launched in Ukraine.

The UNDP/EU project “Improving Environmental Monitoring in the Black Sea” will promote cooperation among the Black Sea countries, especially Georgia, Russia and Ukraine, as well as cooperation with the EU in developing a unified monitoring system of the sea.

“The problem of the lack of information on the state of the Black Sea - its contamination level, the status of rare species and biological resources - is very serious,” Elena Panova, Deputy Country Director UNDP Ukraine, stressed when launching the project. “Often the information we have is incomplete and scattered among different sources; that hinders a long-term prediction of environmental trends and proper planning of the necessary environmental conservation measures. A modern system of monitoring of the Black Sea is a key measure that will help us to save it.”

The Black Sea is one of the most vulnerable regional seas in the world given its limited exchange of water with the open oceans and the large area of continental Europe from which it receives drainage. The sea is also very important for economic and social development in Europe, and conservation of its natural environment is essential  to ensuring a high quality of life for the people of the region.

Unbalanced economic development of the Black Sea region in the second half of the twentieth century led to a significant degradation of the ecosystem; many species of marine animals and plants have become rare or disappeared entirely. As a result of water pollution a number of areas had become unsafe for recreation and that led to diminishing incomes for people living in these areas.

The Odessa Declaration on the Conservation of the Black Sea, adopted in 1993, was one of the key documents which initiated international cooperation aimed at preserving and restoring the sea’s ecosystem and sustainable use of its resources. Much has been done since then, but much more needs to be done. At present, the development of the economy of the region, especially maritime transport, extraction of oil and gas on the sea shelf, expansive development  of coastal resorts, intensive use of marine biological resources, including fish stocks, have led to increased burdens on its ecosystem. Thus it is very important for Black Sea countries to cooperate in protecting and restoring the Black Sea and to use its resources in a sustainable way.

The Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea against Pollution (Bucharest Convention) addresses these problems through enhanced cooperation among its signatories. The development/improvement of a monitoring network is considered to be a high priority management target. Further coordination in policies and legislation between the Black Sea countries is also of common interest to the EU's partner countries – being also members of the Black Sea Commission (BSC) - as it influences their own ability to implement EU legislation and policies, notably the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).