The marine conservation strategy focused on the establishment of marine protected areas (MPAs) has been adopted widely in the Mediterranean, in line with the main international conservation conventions and agreements. Of particular relevance is the Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 of the Convention of Biological Diversity, where signature countries agreed to protect and effectively manage 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020.

This paper explores how the area-based conservation policy at both the national and international level is evolving in the Mediterranean in relation to the Aichi target 11 objectives.

The authors state that as 2020 approaches the Aichi objective is far from being achieved and the deadline is necessitating a pace of planning, declaration, management and evaluation of the Mediterranean network of MPAs that is unattainable for most of the Southeast Mediterranean riparian states.

It is highlighted that two years ahead of the Aichi deadline, the global advances are arriving at a very slow pace in such a complex, varied and idiosyncratic sea, and both the quantitative and qualitative goals are far from being reached.

The authors state that if Mediterranean biodiversity conservation and its sustainable use has to be included in the agenda for once and forever, a subregional perspective under the shelter of the Barcelona Convention should be adopted, and a more intense and direct dialogue with fisheries agencies and involved stakeholders has, inevitable, to be faced.

It is concluded that is hard to justify investment in the protection of large and pristine areas in remote oceans and not promote effective changes in our backyard sea, which is of paramount importance in marine biodiversity and is in strong need of protection and fair socioeconomic development. It is underlined that the Mediterranean countries and the European Union have the singular chance to adopt measures which could serve in the future as a model to be followed by other regional MPAs networks facing similar problems.

Amengual J & Alvarez-Berastegui D (2018) A critical evaluation of the Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 and the Mediterranean MPA network, two years ahead of its deadline. Biological Conservation 225:187-196.