The start of the network

The “Mediterranean Protected Areas Network” was created in 1990 during the Monaco Conference with the support of the World Bank. The two main objectives established at its creation were:

  • the sharing of experience between managers of Mediterranean protected areas;
  • the development of management tools.

The MedPAN Network, led by the Port-Cros National Park (France), operated for 6 years, from 1990 to 1996, with one thematic seminar and four publications each year.

The lack of human and financial resources left the network in a dormant state from 1996, but its value was reaffirmed by the United Nations Programme for the Environment in the spring of 1999 via the Regional Activity Center for Specially Protected Areas (RAC/SPA), based in Tunis.

In 1999, Port-Cros National Park applied for new statutes for MedPAN, transforming MedPAN into a non-profit organization under French law, with administrative offices hosted in the premises of Port-Cros National Park. The General Secretariat is provided by RAC/SPA. The Executive Secretariat is provided by Port-Cros National Park and the Federation of French Regional Natural Parks.

In 2001, Port-Cros National Park proposed that WWF-France “Oceans and Coasts” programme takes on reviving, coordinating and raising funds for the MedPAN Network.


Further to a feasibility study carried out in 2003, MedPAN activities started again with a three-year project (2005 – 2007) financed by the INTERREG IIIC South zone Initiative. The Network is now fully dedicated to Marine Protected Areas.

The project brought together 23 partners from 11 countries around the shores of the Mediterranean, including 14 European partners from France, Italy, Greece, Spain, Malta, Slovenia and 9 non-European partners from Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Croatia and Turkey. Additional funding from the IUCN allowed participants from Lebanon, Libya and Egypt to be associated to the project. Together, they managed more than 20 marine protected areas and worked on the functional and regulatory supervision of several new sites.

The project helped organize several workshops each year on management issues common to all marine protected areas, such as management planning, management of fisheries and tourism, habitat management or financing of marine protected areas.

It also funded the studies and the production of methodological tools and communication tools to assist managers in their daily work and to establish the first global database of marine protected areas in the Mediterranean. This database has now been updated and version 2012 is known as MAPAMED.

During the 5th Steering Committee of the INTERREG project, the partners expressed their will to see MedPAN activities being carried on after the end of the INTERREG IIIC project.

A feasibility study was then carried out in August 2007 to provide an institutional framework to the MedPAN Network, prefiguring the future independent MedPAN Organization.

Together, the Network of Marine Protected Areas’ Managers in the Mediterranean – MedPAN, Port-Cros National Park and WWF-France – coordinator of the Network – organized from 24th to 27th October 2007, on Porquerolles Island (France), the 1st Conference of the Marine Protected Areas Network in the Mediterranean, in close partnership with the SPA/RAC and the IUCN-Med. A statement was drawn up by the participants during this conference.

List of resources produced by the project:

  •  Education and Communication – May 2005
  • Preparing and using management plans, management evaluation –  Workshop procedings, October 2005
  • Sustainable Tourism – April 2006
  • Financing and Economic Impact – June 2006
  • Sustainable Management of Fisheries – October 2006
  • Permanent ecological moorings – December 2006
  • Consultation – February 2007
  • Environment management – May 2007
  • The first conference of Mediterranean MPAs – October 2007
  • Status of MPAs in the Mediterranean – 2008

The network today

At the end of 2007 the managers who were part of the Interreg IIIC project decide that a permanent structure should be dedicated to support the network.

A non profit Organisation is created in 2008 in France under the technical coordination of WWF-France and with the support of 9 founding members; the statutes of the Organisation are registered and new members and partners joined the Organisation.

In 2009, a 2010-2012 action strategy is developed. At the end of 2009, the Executive Secretariat of the Organisation is established in Hyères (France). The first General Assembly is organised.

2010 and 2011 are the first two years of activity for the Organisation. The network grows.

In 2012, the Organisation and its partners work on the 2013-2015 strategy. The secretariat moves to Marseille.

In December 2021, the Organisation brings together 78 members who manage over 110 MPAs and 49 partners from 21 Mediterranean countries. The Executive Secretariat of the Organisation counts 9 employees.