Barcelona Convention Contracting Parties meet to discuss pollution and biodiversity
17 Dec 2017 - 20 Dec 2017
Tirana, Albania
The 20th Ordinary Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean and its Protocols (Barcelona Convention) took place in Tirana, Albania from 17 20 December 2017. Present at the meeting were the following contracting parties: Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, European Union, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Slovenia, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey.

The Interactive Ministerial Policy Review Session on 19 December 2017 was opened by a welcoming address by H.E. Mr. Blendi Klosi, Minister of Tourism and Environment of Albania, Ms. Mette Lyche Wilkie, Director, Ecosystems Division of UNEP, representing the Executive Director of UNEP and Mr. Branimir Gvozdenović, Vice-President of the Parliament of Montenegro and 2017 Ambassador of the Coast. They underlined the importance of the Mediterranean for the people and culture along its coast and highlighted the need for continuous preservation of the Mediterranean biodiversity and its ecosystems and integrated coastal zone management. The UNEP-MAP Coordinator, Mr. Gaetano Leone presented a progress report on activities carried out in the framework of UNEP/MAP since COP 19 especially emphasizing its support for the prevention of marine and coastal pollution included through the establishment of an appropriate regulatory framework, the development of national action plans, and the provision of capacity-building and technical assistance.

The Ministerial Session discussed the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with focus on Sustainable Development Goal 14: pollution and biodiversity. UN-DESA together with CBD and UNEP were asked to be on a panel to kickstart the discussions. UN-DESA focused its presentation on SDG 14 in relation to other SDGs in the 2030 Agenda; follow-up to the UN Ocean Conference and voluntary commitments. It showed commitments already registered by UNEP-MAP Secretariat and encouraged registration of new commitments and engagement of nine communities of ocean practice. It also discussed the link between regional and global levels through the Mediterranean Sustainable Development Strategy and Mediterranean Commission for Sustainable Development including in the context of engagement at the high-level political forum on sustainable development. The CBD focused on its proactive identification of ecologically or biologically significant marine areas and related activities, as well as its timely focus on pollution and biodiversity that complemented its recent work on marine debris. UNEP focused on the latest UN Environment Assembly that discussed pollution, including marine pollution and underlined the present meeting was an opportunity to showcase the importance of implementing pollution and biodiversity-related commitments in the region through collective action within the framework of multi-stakeholder partnerships and support for the inclusion of Goal 14 in national agendas for sustainable development.

Ministers of the contracting parties who took the floor underlined that holistic, ecosystem-based and precautionary approaches were key to addressing ocean-related challenges. They presented what strategies, measures and concrete actions their countries are undertaking to limit pollution and its effects and preserve marine biodiversity and some also called for creation of a common policy for fisheries in the Mediterranean. Many mentioned the importance of implementation of the SDG 14 and its related targets in this regard.
The Session also saw the Istanbul Environment Friendly City Award 20162017 presented to the Mayor of Izmir, Turkey. This is the first city that received the award since the decision was taken in COP 19 in Athens, Greece in February 2016. Two other cities that were short listed were Tel Aviv, Israel and Crikvenica, Croatia. Izmir, the Mayor said, was a leader in terms of investing in the environment, including through the construction of wastewater treatment plants and through efforts to make the Gulf of Izmir suitable for swimming, promote sustainable environmental practices and increase the number of green spaces and promote sustainable transport through expansion of rail and low emission busses and vessels as well as setting up a public bicycle system.

The Session closed by adoption of the Tirana Ministerial Declaration. It reaffirmed the commitment to making progress towards achieving and/or maintaining Good Environmental Status in the Mediterranean, in line with the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols, and decided to start discussions on the next steps of the ecosystem approach implementation beyond 2021, to contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It decided to continue taking appropriate measures to prevent and reduce marine pollution from land-based and marine sources and committed to promoting sustainable consumption and production patterns. It committed to accelerate efforts to ensure the implementation of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and especially Aichi Target 11, as well as the ocean related SDG targets, in particular SDG target 14.5 in the Mediterranean, and to cooperate so as to achieve ambitious targets by 2030. It also encouraged Contracting Parties to work on advancing the process of establishing marine protected areas (MPAs). It highlighted the important contribution that coordination at the regional sea level can have in delivering the 2030 Agenda, including through the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development 2016-2025 and committed to promote maximum coherence and synergy of regional monitoring mechanisms with global mechanisms for the 2030 Agenda monitoring. It also committed to continue and enhance engagement and partnership with global, regional and subregional bodies and programmes, the scientific community and academic institutions, the private sector, the donor community, non-governmental organizations, community groups, and other relevant actors to support the achievement of common goals on the implementation of ocean-related Agenda 2030, including Sustainable Development Goal 14, and especially on pollution prevention and reduction and on biodiversity conservation.
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