MED NEWS 02/2021

TH-UN-Flag (2).jpgEditorial

By Tatjana Hema, Coordinator of the UNEP/MAP-Barcelona Convention Secretariat

Continuity, enhanced integration and renewed commitment

On 1 July 2021 I assumed my duties of Coordinator of the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP), taking over from Gaetano Leone, who recently retired after seven years of outstanding service at the helm of the UNEP/MAP-Barcelona Convention Secretariat.

As many of you know, I am not new to MAP. I have worked in the Secretariat for several years and in various positions. I see in my latest appointment by the UNEP Executive Director an expression of appreciation for the work that the entire MAP-Barcelona Convention Secretariat, including the Regional Activity Centres (RACs), has competently delivered. I also see a clear message on the importance of continuity. As I embark on this new professional journey, I am determined to draw upon the leadership of the Contracting Parties and build on what UNEP/MAP has achieved with a view to addressing the triple crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution that the Mediterranean is grappling with.  

The goal is to divert current trajectories towards more sustainable and resilient paths. The new UNEP/MAP Medium-Term Strategy 2022-2027, to be examined for adoption this December at the 22nd Meeting of the Contracting Parties (COP 22) in Antalya, Turkey, will guide our collective efforts to achieve this crucial mission in line with UNEP’s mandate and within the framework of the global agenda and the commitment that it has generated.

I am fully aware of the complex nature of the issues in hand. Luckily, we have a robust platform for a stronger collective effort. UNEP/MAP has delivered a vast body of assessments, and devised strategies, action plans and concrete measures to help Contracting Parties accelerate the transition to sustainability across a wide thematic spectrum: from Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP)—as the linchpin of circular economies—to curbing marine pollution and expanding the protection of marine and coastal species to achieve Good Environmental Status. The vision is clear, but the journey ahead is challenging.

Fostering political commitment is essential to the transformational changes needed in all sectors. This will be among the priorities that I will be pursuing in my new role. Implementation and enforcement of the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols, breaking the silos through greater integration at all levels, and effective collaboration and outreach are critical to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Mediterranean region.

I will strive for a nimble, efficient and forward-looking UNEP/MAP-Barcelona Convention system that responds adequately to existing and emerging challenges in the Mediterranean and serves the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols at the highest standards.

I am confident that COP 22—the first meeting of the Contracting Parties to take place after the global pandemic rose on the Mediterranean horizon—will serve as a new push for effective multilateralism and coordinated action among Mediterranean countries and the European Union.

Gender equality and enhancing the way we listen to and work with youth in the Mediterranean will also receive adequate attention. As we step up efforts to spur a post-COVID green renaissance in the Mediterranean, we must and will do more to ensure that no one is left behind in the delivery of the UNEP/MAP Programme of Work and the projects that we implement with our partners.