Interreg Euro-MED MPA4Change

Image of beach area in Barcelona, by EUROPARC Federation

MPA4Change project is an Interreg Euro-MED initiative that aims to promote the role of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and marine restoration as Nature Based Solutions for the adaptation and mitigation of Climate Change.

The ultimate goal of this initiative is to enhance the resilience of Mediterranean coastal areas in view to support the good environmental status and sustainable use of marine ecosystems.

MPA4Change logo

Background – Climate Change and Marine Protected Areas:

Climate change is dramatically affecting the Mediterranean Sea, which is warming three times faster than the world’s average rate, while amplifying the effects of existing threats to marine ecosystems. Besides the increased water temperature, the sea-level rise, the increased ocurrence of extreme events and the ocean acidification are leading some of the factors leading to impacts on both habitats and species.

As a consequence, the Mediterranean region is increasingly more vulnerable to shifts in species distribution, the appearence of invasive species, changes in the timings of seasonal biological events, such as migrations of species, spawning periods, flowering and other changes in species life cycles present in it.

Additionally, these impacts and shifts negatively affect the provision of ecosystem services that the Mediterranean society relies on such as food production, flood and erosion control, carbon storage, sequestration and water quality. Nonetheless, besides the nature-based solution they offer to support efforts towards climate change adaptation and mitigation, MPAs also experience the widespread and pervasive effects of climate change that may challenge their effectiveness to fully protect biodiversity.

In response to the increas in threads, MPA4Change project aims enhance the resilience of Mediterranean coastal areas in view to support the good environmental status and sustainable use of marine ecosystems.

Project objectives:

The MPA4Change project is structured to work on three axis following three different objectives:

  • promote and fine-tune consolidated tools for risk assessment, monitoring, data sharing, restoration, citizen science, participatory approaches and defining adaptation action plans, communication – this tools already exist and where developed in previous Euro-MED projects such as MPA-Adapt and MPAEngage.
  • support the Policy dialogue and coordinate with EU, Mediterranean and Global ICZM/MSP Strategies (e.g., FAO/GFCM, UNEP/MPA, RAC/SPA, UfM).
  • develop a Roster of experts to fully operationalise the implementation of policies and tools ensuring the long-term sustainability and capacity for adaptation and mitigation to climate change.

Expected results:

This initiative will result in the development of action plans for Mediterranean MPAs in view to ensure its long-term sustainability and capacity. To do so, MPA4Change will focus on the transferring of ready-to-use toolkits on Restoration and Nature Based Solutions and the integration of its principles into effective public policies at Mediterranean and EU level. Additionally, the creation of a roster of experts to will support the implementation of these tools tools during and beyond the project´s life, with the objective of reaching up to 100 Mediterranean MPAs by 2030.

Climate Change adaptation toolkits:

  • Harmonized monitoring – standardised Monitoring Protocols for assessing climate change effects and impacts in MPAs across the Mediterranean and beyond. The toolkit is complemented by learning materials and tools to assist the whole process, from the data collection and analysis to the interpretation of data and final assessment of climate change impacts, including management advice. These tools and associated indicators are fully in line with the Barcelona Convention Ecosystem Approach and EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD; Directive 2008/56/EC),
  • Vulnerability assessment – guidance and tools, tested in seven pilot sites in the Mediterranean, to assess the MPAs´ ecological and socio-economic vulnerability to climate change (or the predisposition to be adversely affected by climate change impacts, defining how severe the effects can be in a given system). The assessment methodology is based on the calculation of a multidimensional socio-ecological index that combines the vulnerability scores of habitat, species and users of the MPA, providing scores per species, habitat and user groups, as well as a total vulnerability score and two scenarios according to CO2 emission scenarios and for 2 timeframes.
  • Citizen science – protocols on how to engage local communities in citizen science activities to monitor the climate change effects and impacts in MPAs, providing them with the right tools, skills and methodologies to do it. Citizen science allows comprehensive data collection, providing citizens the opportunity to acquire a deeper understanding of the impacts of climate change to marine ecosystems and creates a space to link citizen science with adaptive management. Three of the eleven protocols for Harmonized monitoring are selected to be deployed in the citizen science activities.
  • Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change – guidance, tested in seven pilot sites in the Mediterranean, with actions to elaborate climate change adaptation and mitigation plans.
  • Participation – guidance on how to apply the Quintuple Helix Participatory Approach, tested in seven pilot sites, for engaging and mobilizing all the key actors (Socio-economic Actors, MPA Managers, Scientists, Public Authorities and Citizens). Participatory engagement of local communities is a context-driven process, where the full understanding of the political, cultural and institutional context at local, national, regional and global level is needed. However, it is perhaps the most important component to ensure increased support and long-term sustainability and can successfully lead to effective decision-making for climate change adaptation in Mediterranean MPAs.
  • Communication – a compendium of resources to support the design and implementation of climate change adaptation, mitigation and restoration plans in MPAs (cartoon, 60sec videos, webinars,…)

What can EUROPARC members expect?

EUROPARC members will be able to benefit from the outputs of this project by uptaking the solutions transfered.

Interested in learning how to adapt MPAs to Climate Change?

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For any other query, please contact Fernando Pinillos – EUROPARC Communications Officer/ MPA4Change project manager at EUROPARC side: fernando.pinillos<at>

MPA4Change in a nutshell:


9 Project Partners from Croatia, Cyprus, France, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain- Additionally, 13 Associated Partners will support the project implementation and uptake of results.


From January 1st 2024 to December 31st 2025

Total Budget

1M €