Meetings of the MAP Focal Points, which take place prior each COP convened every two years, constitute important milestones as part of the intergovernmental process that UNEP/MAP has been steering since its inception in 1975. Therefore also this year, on 10-17 September 2021, the Focal Points of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP) met online in order to pave the way for the 22nd Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols that will held on 7 - 10 December 2021 to Antalya in Turkey.

In his opening statement, Carlo Zaghi, the President of the Bureau of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention, praised the Contracting Parties’ commitment to the vision of a healthy Mediterranean Sea and coast. He also warned that the Mediterranean region had one of the highest rates of biodiversity loss in the world, with 40 per cent of its marine species in decline, and that it was adversely affected by climate change, the overexploitation of the coastal and marine environment, marine litter, and an increase in invasive alien species. The President of the Bureau also said that over the previous decade, the Mediterranean experienced a steady rise in oil transport and cruise shipping and thus in the release of hazardous substances and emissions. Rising levels of air pollution pose a serious threat to residents of port cities. He also recalled that “in recent international forums – for example, the G20 under the Italian presidency – there were calls for immediate change to prevent further degradation of the coastal and marine environment and reverse the decline in its biodiversity”, “such change would be possible only through effective regional coordination.”

Tatjana Hema, the UNEP/MAP Coordinator, said that the Mediterranean region was at a historic juncture. To address the triple crisis of pollution, biodiversity decline and climate change, “deep transformations are required in all sectors. Decision makers at the national level have to acknowledge the irrefutable scientific evidence demonstrating that it is no longer possible to maintain current trajectories”.

During the meeting of the MAP Focal Points, the new and ambitious UNEP/MAP Medium Term Strategy (MTS) for 2022-2027 was reviewed. This new MTS reflects the Mediterranean and UNEP priorities and considers the emerging global and regional context. The new MTS also aims to underpin the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Mediterranean as part of a post-COVID green recovery and can constitute a firm and coordinated regional response to the challenges that the region is facing. In addition to the MTS, the MAP Focal Points reviewed also several draft thematic decisions on addressing biodiversity conservation and Marine Protected Areas; prevention, preparedness and response to pollution from ships and form land bases sources; possible designation of the Mediterranean Sea as an Emission Control Area for Sulphur Oxides emissions from ships under MARPOL, etc. Under the recommendation of MAP Focal Points, the new MTS and the draft thematic decisions will be submitted to the Contracting Parties during the COP 22 for their adoption.

Commenting on the extensive agenda of the meeting, Ms. Hema observed that “UNEP/MAP is bringing to the region an ambitious agenda combining both strategic and action-oriented responses addressing the need for concrete, legally-binding measures to tackle land- and sea-based pollution, promote a circular economy and upstream action, protect and enhance biodiversity in the context of the post-2020 biodiversity framework, foster nature-based solutions, comprehensively address the challenges posed by climate change, and develop up-to-date tools to implement the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols,” .

Effective implementation of the Convention and its Protocols supported by outreach and advocacy, which constitute an enabling programme in the new MTS, are critical to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda in the Mediterranean region.

Partners were invited to regard the Convention and its Protocols as a “regional public good”, and to participate actively in the implementation endeavor through multilateralism and regional cooperation.

Kerstin Stendahl, Head of the UNEP Ecosystems Integration Branch told MAP Focal Points “I am confident that the forthcoming COP 22 will be very successful, further strengthening the legal, institutional and implementation framework for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea and Coast,” while Mr. Zaghi said “This meeting is a time for concrete actions and reactions. I am confident that it will succeed by virtue of the spirit of collaboration that is typical of the Mediterranean family".

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published on 2022/03/03 14:23:09 GMT+0 last modified 2022-03-03T14:23:09+00:00