A large literature exists regarding explanations for the emergence of cooperation in the Mediterranean basin, but there is less information regarding the effectiveness of Mediterranean cooperation and its programs. Through a case study of Israel's implementation and compliance with the Barcelona Convention and the Mediterranean Action Plan, we evaluate the effectiveness of these international institutions. We find that international institutions and their efforts to target state capacity as the mechanism to improve compliance and effectiveness are often misguided unless their efforts are also directed towards enhancing societal capacity. We then explicate the way in which societal actors such as environmental NGOs can improve domestic compliance and effectiveness. These findings are illuminated through an assessment of the activities of several environmental NGOs in Israel to target Mediterranean pollution and coastal management policies. Where NGOs have taken action, they have often proved successful in forcing the Israeli government and the business sector to honor its environmental commitments.