The CIESM (Commission internationale pour l'exploration scientifique de la mer Méditerranée) was founded in 1919 by countries with Mediterranean coastlines. It aims to advance scientific cooperation, by supporting the international use of national research stations. The CIESM is structured in scientific committees and organizes congresses and interdisciplinary meetings.
Later landlocked countries such as Switzerland that also have a scientific interest in the Mediterranean as well as countries on the North and on the Black Sea also jointed the Commission. Today its membership consists of the following: Algeria, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Malta, Monaco, Morocco, Portugal, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine.
Six scientific committees at the CIESM organize thematic workshops and meet every three years at a congress. Between these congresses the CIESM Board makes policy decisions. The Commission organizes conferences and workshops and encourages the participation of young scientists from financially disadvantaged countries.
A theme of central importance in recent years has been investigations into the pollution of the seas with the collaboration of the United Nations Environment Program and UNESCO. State-of-the-art informatics technology has enabled the inclusion of underwater topography in the numerical simulation of currents.
Cooperation with CIESM is for the landlocked country of Switzerland of great value. Switzerland finances around 4.4 % of the total CIESM annual budget (ca. 910,000 €/year).
The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI is responsible for the financial participation of Switzerland. Daniel Ariztegui of the University of Geneva and president of the Commission for Oceanography and Lymnology COL represents Switzerland on the CIESM board, at the congress and at the general assembly.