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The Regional Seas Programme (RSP) was launched in 1974 in the wake of the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm, Sweden.

The RSP aims to address the accelerating degradation of the world's oceans and coastal areas through the sustainable management and use of the marine and coastal environments, by engaging neighbouring countries in comprehensive and specific actions to protect their shared marine environment.

Today more than 140 countries participate in 13 regional programmes established under UNEP auspices. Five other partner programmes are also members of the RSP. Thus the RSP covers in total 18 regions across the world making it one of the most globally comprehensive initiatives for the protection of marine and coastal environments.