MAP Coordinator at UN Ocean Conference

Opening statement by Tatjana Hema, UNEP/MAP Coordinator

To the colleagues who are with us today and to the guests who are connected here or watching the livestream through YouTube: greetings to you all and thank you for joining us on this virtual side-event organized by the UNEP/MAP Coordinating Unit and the MAP components:

  • The Regional Activity Centre for Information and Communication (INFO/RAC);
  • The Regional Activity Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production (MedWaves);
  • The Priority Actions Programme Regional Activity Centre (PAP/RAC);
  • Plan Bleu Regional Activity Centre (Plan Bleu);
  • The Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC);
  • The Specially Protected Areas Regional Activity Centre (SPA/RAC);
  • and MED POL.

Since its inception in 1975, UNEP/MAP—the pioneer of the UNEP Regional Seas Programme— has set in motion an exemplary multilateral endeavor to tackle the challenge of reconciling development with environmental protection.

The scope of this endeavor has gradually expanded from combating marine pollution to encompass all the themes pertaining to land- and sea-based pollution prevention and control, biodiversity conservation, coastal management and sustainable development.

Today, the UNEP/MAP-Barcelona Convention system constitutes a unique legal, institutional and implementation framework that underpins sustainability and resilience in the Mediterranean region.

We are delighted that the UN Ocean Conference Secretariat gave us this platform to contribute to the global conversation that Lisbon is hosting this week.

The UNOC Secretariat approved the concept of this side-event in what was a very competitive process this year. I am sure they saw the added value of the reflection that we are undertaking with you all today.

This side-event is not about our own institutional visibility as UNEP/MAP-Barcelona Convention.

We have come to the Ocean Conference to convey the voice of the Mediterranean, and share lessons learned from almost five decades of regional collaboration on environmental protection and sustainable development in a regional sea context.

The Mediterranean, this region that we at UNEP/MAP are honoured to serve, is special.

Situated at the intersection of three continents, the Mediterranean is the cradle of civilizations that have shaped human history and a unique space for intercultural dialogue and effective collaboration.

The Mediterranean is facing the triple planetary crisis of pollution, climate change and biodiversity loss.

Mediterranean countries have committed to achieving Good Environmental Status (GES) of the Mediterranean Sea and coast and more broadly, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under the United Nations 2030 Agenda.

We have a Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development (MSSD 2016-2025) under implementation with a growing coalition of countries, civil society organizations and private sector entities referring to it as a common umbrella for launching sustainability initiatives.

The MSSD provides an integrative policy framework for all stakeholders, including MAP partners, to translate the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs at the regional, sub-regional, national and local levels in the Mediterranean region.

COP 22, held in Antalya in December last year, charted the path for UNEP/MAP until 2027. This will be a crucial period for the achievement of SDG-14.

The Antalya Ministerial Declaration aligns the MAP agenda with global commitments around four building blocks:

  1. Shift to a climate-resilient, resource-efficient and sustainable Mediterranean;
  2. Leave a pollution-free and waste-free legacy for future generations;
  3. Protect and restore biodiversity and ecosystems;
  4. Raise ambition for joint achievements.

The new UNEP/MAP Medium-Term Strategy (MTS) provides for a transformational change and will contribute to bending current trajectories.

The effective implementation of the MTS will situate the region on a path of sustainability, thus pushing for a green recovery in the Mediterranean in the post COVID-19 era.

Branded the “COP for the Mediterranean”, COP 22 marked 45 years of seamless environmental multilateralism and regional solidarity under the UNEP/MAP-Barcelona Convention system.

COP 22 offered an inclusive platform for renewed commitment in the Mediterranean and sent a clear signal that UNEP/MAP is ready to act effectively and in a timely manner to support the region in building back greener with strong environmental objectives.

These are among many aspects where the Mediterranean region has a good story to tell the world.

That story deserves to be told in Lisbon along with that of the gaps that remain and the challenges that are yet to be overcome.

Today the UNEP/MAP team will share stories of achievements and challenges faced.

We are organizing this virtual side-event to advocate for a swifter implementation of the SDGs in the remaining eight years that we have before 2030.

There is plenty that can be done in eight years.

The full implementation of all existing obligations and commitments will do wonders.

Let me recentre this reflection on the Mediterranean.

The full implementation of the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean – the long name of the Barcelona Convention– , its seven Protocols, and the wealth of associated strategies and action plans covering the full spectrum of common environmental challenges encountered in this basin; the full implementation of these instruments and tools is a shortcut to achieving crucial targets, not just those related to SDG-14 (Life Below Water), but also many pertaining to the 17 Goals as a whole.

The implication of this and, in essence, what we came here to assert, is that translating commitments made by the Contracting Parties into national regulations that are backed by effective enforcement and compliance tools will benefit the crucial pursuit of the SDGs in the Mediterranean.

A great deal is at stake.

This region concentrates many of humanity’s current challenges and of the issues that undermine the sustainability of the global ocean.

Success in the Mediterranean region will reverberate well beyond the basin and send a much-needed signal of hope that humanity can overcome differences and work together for the common objective of protecting and living in harmony with the ocean and nature in the broadest sense.

Thank you for your attention. I wish us a productive session.

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published on 2022/09/09 09:37:00 GMT+0 last modified 2022-09-16T09:10:59+00:00