The Mediterranean basin, with its limited and fragile natural resources, is characterized by a recent socio-economic development that has given rise to major changes, which put its heritage in peril. Recognizing the growing regional and transboundary character of the water management and related environmental problems, in 1975, Mediterranean countries and the EEC adopted the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP). In 1976 the Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution (Barcelona Convention) was signed by the Mediterranean countries establishing a basin-wide co-operation in the Mediterranean to protect the marine environment.

Pollution from land-based sources and activities has long been recognized as a major problem being responsible for approx. 80% of the pollution of the Mediterranean marine environment. Under the framework of the Barcelona convention, the responses of the Mediterranean countries to this problem was the adoption of the Protocol for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution from Land-Based Sources (LBS Protocol), which came into force in 1983.

The LBS-MAP protocol requires, among other, individual industrial sectors or industries to apply best available techniques (BAT) and best environmental practices (BEP). As a measure for strengthening the LBS Protocol, the MED POL programme carried out in the framework of the Mediterranean Action Plan, is gradually refocusing on problems of direct relevance to the prevention and elimination of pollution from land-based activities.

The Mediterranean countries, recognizing that there is a need for a coordinated and innovative approach for the implementation of policy reforms, priority interventions and investments that address transboundary pollution and biodiversity conservation priorities have agreed on a collective effort for the protection of the environmental resources of the Mediterranean, the Strategic Partnership for the Mediterranean Sea Large Marine Ecosystem. This initiative is led by UNEP and the World Bank, co-funded by the GEF and involves several UN agencies including UNIDO, IFIs and bilateral and multilateral donors.

The UNIDO TEST-MED project is a component of the “Strategic Partnership for the Mediterranean Large Marine Ecosystem (LME)”, aiming to support national governments in effectively implementing national strategies for reducing industrial discharges. The MED-TEST project is co-funded by the Italian Government, has an expected duration of 3 years (2008-2011) and involves three pilot countries: Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia.

The MED-TEST project is a replication initiative of the GEF/Danube-TEST project successfully implemented by UNIDO during 2001-2004 in five countries of the Danube River Basin (Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia).