Interview with Mr. Giuseppe Italiano - General Director for Sea and Coasts - Italian Ministry of Environment Land and Sea (IMELS)

Under Bilateral Agreement between UNEP/MAP and IMELS
Q.: Italy is one of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention since its ratification: which is the main goal of the Agreement signed between IMELS and UNEP/MAP?
One of the core businesses of the Italian environmental policy, mainly in the field of Oceans and Sea protection, is the promotion of the value of Regional Cooperation, through Regional Sea Programs as the UNEP/MAP Barcelona Convention, as key instruments for the implementation of policies, action plans and measures able to effectively respond to the major global challenges affecting our planet.

The regional approach, that the Italian Ministry of Environment (IMELS), and the General Directorate for Sea and Coasts I have the honor to represent, has always supported in all relevant fora, is the most adequate mean to overcome threats that for their nature cannot be managed individually within the National borders.

This clear vision, together with the objective to strengthen synergies for the implementation of National policies at a wider scale by guaranteeing at the same time the effective application of the ecosystem approach, has strongly inspired the Cooperation Agreement between IMELS and UNEP, whose results are tangible proof of the success of the said approach. 

The Cooperation Agreement between the Italian Ministry for the Environment and the United Nations Program for the Environment was born in 2016 with the clear objective to boost the collaboration of both the signatory Parties on key themes of common interest for the protection of the Mediterranean and its coastal Regions.

Q.: Which are the main outcomes of this agreement and how they can make the difference in Mediterranean Sea protection?

The Agreement, meant to contribute to the implementation of priority actions as the management of Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Interest (SPAMI), the prevention and reduction of marine litter, the implementation of Coastal Areas management programs (CAMP), the promotion of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management and Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) as well as other governance tools for the Blue Growth, revealed itself an exemplary model of concrete cooperation between a Contracting party of the Barcelona Convention and its Secretariat.  

The design of the Bilateral Agreement itself, intended to support a number of activities of a cross-cutting nature and deliver multi-dimensional outcomes, such as ecosystem-based MSP or marine litter management in MPAs, has definitely promoted coordination and integration, meaning integration of responses, by addressing different sectors in a holistic manner, and institutional integration through a coordinated work between the UNEP/MAP System and IMELS.

Q.: What is from an institutional/governmental point of view the added value in terms of coordination and integration of activities of this cooperation mechanism?

The success of the Agreement has been guaranteed by mainstreaming its activities into the programmatic framework of UNEP/MAP, going far beyond the scope of an ad-hoc project. In 2018-2019, it supported indeed 24 activities of the UNEP/MAP Programme of Work, under 5 Themes of the Mid-Term Strategy (MTS), involving all MAP Components, and its deliverables have been instrumental in achieving important results to MTS implementation at all sub-regional, national and regional levels. That, without forgetting the needed synergy with the global processes and instruments including the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and relevant SDGs, the UNEA Resolutions, especially those related to marine litter and microplastics and SCP patterns and circular economy, as well as the CBD and Aichi Targets.

Further, the focus on the sub-regional Adriatic area, with some outcomes being tailored to the Adriatic needs and specificities, has not jeopardized the overall objective to benefit the whole Region because the best practices, tools and methodologies applied in those contexts can be surely expanded and/or replicated in other areas or at regional level.

Q.: Based on the overall results and impacts achieved does Italy consider this framework as a model to be used for similar cooperation mechanisms with other Contracting Parties within the Barcelona Convention system?

The vision of the Agreement, together with the methodology and strategic approach applied by all actors involved, indeed, represent a model to be exported to any future bilateral relations with other Mediterranean Countries and Italy commits itself to help the Mediterranean Community, mainly our developing neighbor Countries, to take advantage of instruments like that for the benefit of our Mare Nostrum.

Finally, the success of this Cooperation, which echoed in the whole Mediterranean Community, cannot be isolated and limited to its duration. It represents a solid basis on which Italy is keen to work in view of future cooperation agreements, including with UNEP/MAP Secretariat, benefitting the Mediterranean and advancing in the fight against its emerging threats also in consideration of the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on our Region.


Giuseppe Italiano

General Director for Sea and Coasts

MAP Focal Point

Italian Ministry of Environment (IMELS) 


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published on 2020/06/17 00:00:00 GMT+0 last modified 2020-06-18T14:16:26+00:00