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UNDA Project 1819AE: Bosnia and Herzegovina - Coastal management

Lake Balkana in Mrkonijic Grad

For the first time, the third EPR of Bosnia and Herzegovina devoted a chapter to the protection of the Adriatic Sea. The assessment revealed that a coastal zone management strategy was missing, in part due to the non-adhesion of the country to the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Protocol (ICZM) of the Barcelona Convention covering the area of coastal management and aiming at offering to the parties common criteria on coastal zone management. While Bosnia and Herzegovina has ratified the Barcelona convention and is a member of the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP), it has not yet ratified the ICZM and thus, does not apply this framework. The country is also part of the Adriatic-Ionian macro-region, which has adopted the EUSAIR Strategy and Action Plan for the promotion of sustainable development of coastal area in the area of transport infrastructure, energy, blue growth, tourism and biodiversity conservation. However, the EPR highlighted a lack of implementation of the strategy. Moreover, specific laws on the protection of the Adriatic Sea and on the designation of protected areas are missing.

Bosnia has 20 km of Adriatic coast, with Neum being the main town. As a hub for tourism but also benefitting from a great economic potential, a sustainable model of management is crucial to ensure the development of the region in an environmentally friendly way. Indeed, activities related to tourism, particularly regarding the waste production, fishing, aquaculture, and maritime transport tend to put pressure on the environment. At the same time, these activities are crucial to offer economic opportunities to the locals. The country started to develop a project, the Coastal Area Management Programme for Bosnia and Herzegovina (CAMP BH), for the city of Neum with a feasibility study already completed.

Vulnerability to climate change urges the country to engage in measures to increase its resilience against the potential future impacts. Indeed, pressures on the eco-system of the sea such as increase in temperature, impact on the species with decrease of the stocks, migration, arrival of intrusive species, pressures on the corals, on the level of the sea and its acidity, as well as indirect pressures on the upstream rivers are expected to alter the eco-system.

As mentioned in the third EPR, there are obstacles which fail to guarantee and actually hinder the promotion of a sustainable management. Indeed, institutional capacity is weak. Coastal management is absent in terms of strategies, legislative instrument, planning and funding mechanisms. For example, no regulation referring exclusively to the quality and monitoring of sea water exists, slowing down any action for concrete measures against polluting activities such as the release of marine litter. The country has neither implemented the Coastal Zone Management Plan under the Mediterranean Action Plan nor ratified the ICZM, a situation which hampers the development of a comprehensive costal management strategy. At the regional or local level, regulations need to be harmonized with these frameworks.

Therefore, UNECE provides support to the country to define a sustainable development plan for the zone by mapping the priorities for coastal management with a particular attention on marine litter, spurring activities to develop maritime legislation and determining activities to achieve the goals of the Agenda 2030. Moreover, the project aims to support the country in the ratification of the ICZM protocol, as well as to identify synergies between the EUSAIR Strategy and the different protocols of the Barcelona Conventional. Finally, it aims at pursuing the efforts already made by the country by assisting it in the implementation of the Coastal Area Management Programme project in Neum.

Coastal management is essential to guarantee decent sustainable development, preservation of the cultural heritage and to fulfil the country’s commitment to the Agenda 2030 regarding notably SDG 6, 13 and 14.