About the Global Programme of Action

The Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA) was adopted by 108 Governments and the European Commission in 1995. It targets major threats to the health, productivity and biodiversity of the marine and coastal environment resulting from human activities on land. The GPA proposes an integrated, multi-sectoral approach based on commitment to action at local, national, regional and global levels. It is an important global mechanism that explicitly addresses the linkages between freshwater, coastal and marine environments.


At the national level, the GPA has catalysed many governments around the world to build institutional capacities, and review legislative frameworks and environmental policies for the sustainable management of the marine and coastal environment. This is done through the development and implementation of National Programmes of Action (NPA). So far, more than 70 countries are planning, developing, or implementing NPAs. Find out more about the GPA in your country.


At the regional level, coordination of efforts to implement the GPA is required. This is because of the transboundary nature of threats to the marine environment. Development of national and regional programmes of action is of primary importance. The UNEP Regional Seas Programme plays an important role in implementing the GPA at the regional level. Find out more about the UNEP Regional Seas Programme.


At the international level, the GPA has raised international awareness and facilitated action to address the environmental dimension of urban sanitation and municipal wastewater, and the physical alteration and destruction of habitats. It is also recognized as a valuable tool for achieving internationally agreed goals and targets, including those associated with the Millennium Declaration and the Mauritius Strategy on Small Island Developing States.


Active participation by stakeholders in the work of the GPA is vital to its success as it will increase acceptance of responsibility for marine pollution. This participation should strengthen present efforts but will also produce new and innovative ways of addressing marine pollution and further integrating sectoral management as it relates to the natural environment.


If you would like to find out more about protecting the marine environment from land-based activities, please visit the UNEP/GPA website. You will find a wealth of information including a newly designed Clearing-House and search engine.