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Contracting Parties to Barcelona Convention and its Protocols meet in Naples to take action to protect Mediterranean ecosystems

ATHENS, NOVEMBER 30 – Convened by the Mediterranean Action Plan of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP/MAP), the 21st Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols (COP21) will take place on 2-5 December 2019. More than two hundred participants and guests will take part in the four-day negotiations, side-events, exhibitions and panel discussions that will begin on Monday, 2 December, in Castel dell’Ovo, a sea-side medieval castle that will host the meeting in Naples, Italy.

The Ministerial Segment of COP21 will open on 4 December 2019 with statements from H.E. Mr. Sergio Costa, Minister for Environment, Land and Sea Protection of Italy, and Ms. Joyce Msuya, Deputy Executive Director of UNEP. Other Dignitaries from Italy and eminent guests representing academia, civil society, the private sector and intergovernmental organizations will also speak during the Ministerial Segment, which will feature a High-Level Panel discussion on “Protecting the marine environment and coastal region of the Mediterranean: game-changing action for sustainability”.

Draft decisions prepared by the UNEP/MAP—Barcelona Convention Secretariat and submitted to COP21 for adoption include regional plans to prevent and reduce pollution from Land-Based Sources (LBS), standards and guidelines under the Offshore, LBS and Dumping Protocols of the Barcelona Convention, and an ambitious roadmap for the possible designation of the Mediterranean Sea Area as an Emission Control Area for Sulphur Oxides, in line with the terms of  Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).

Official delegations will also examine draft decisions related to biodiversity and ecosystems, such as the alignment of the Strategic Action Programme on Biodiversity in the Mediterranean (SAPBIO) with the forthcoming Post-2020 Biodiversity framework and the designation of four new Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMIs).

The COP21 agenda notably carries a focus on sustainability with a view for UNEP/MAP to underpin efforts by the Contracting Parties in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Contracting Parties will therefore consider for adoption a Common Regional Framework on Integrated Coastal Zone Management encompassing resilience-bolstering action in the face of climate hazards, as well as a set of regional measures on green and circular businesses and sustainable products.

The UNEP/MAP Coordinator Gaetano Leone said that “COP21 will contribute to the ongoing intergovernmental processes on the ocean, climate change and biodiversity with a focus on the Mediterranean region. Its outcomes will feed into the UNEP marine and coastal Strategy for the 2020–2030 decade, and it will mark an important milestone in the Mediterranean environmental governance process that UNEP/MAP continues to successfully coordinate despite disparities in socio-economic contexts and capacities among the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention”.

“The UNEP/MAP State of Environment and Development Report, which will be examined by COP21, describes mounting pressure on our basin, deriving from population growth, climate change, agriculture and fisheries, tourism, extractive industries, and transport”.

The UNEP MAP Coordinator added that “the June 2020 UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon and the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to be adopted at a landmark United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD) conference in October 2020, will be very present in our COP21 deliberations and discussions with the Contracting Parties in Naples”.

The decisions on the COP21 agenda, together with the proposed Programme of Work and Budget of UNEP/MAP for 2020-2021, the launch of preparations for the next UNEP/MAP medium-term strategy (2022-2027) and the Naples Ministerial Declaration, will guide the work of the MAP-Barcelona Convention system during the next biennium (2020-2021) and beyond.

In the lead-up to COP21, UNEP/MAP coordinated a participatory process to ensure that the voice of stakeholders in the Mediterranean be heard in Naples. The process started in the framework of the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development – a multi-stakeholder, inclusive advisory body to the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention – with an online consultation of experts from the region with a view to capturing their perspectives on the COP21 priority themes.

An additional stakeholder consultation took place on 24-25 October 2019 in Athens, Greece, and saw the participation of representatives of several civil society and intergovernmental organizations working in the Mediterranean region. The interactive discussions with and among participants generated suggestions and proposals pertaining to the preparation of the Naples Ministerial Declaration and the future work of UNEP/MAP.

The Host Country, Italy, organized a gathering of youth on 24 October 2019 in Naples to provide young women and men for across the Mediterranean region with a platform to voice their concerns and proposals for consideration by Mediterranean policymakers at COP21.

Earlier in September, Focal Points of the UNEP/MAP in Mediterranean countries met in Athens to pave the way for the intergovernmental negotiations to be held in Naples next week. (@OnuItalia)


Il giornale Italiano delle Nazioni Unite. Ha due redazioni, una a New York, l’altra a Roma.

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