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mediterrenean  UNEP ON THE GROUND
Countries renew commitment to protect Mediterranean

More than 150 delegates from 21 Mediterranean countries and the European Union attended the 19th ordinary meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols held in Athens, Greece, from 9 to 12 February 2016.


Hosted by the Hellenic Government, the UN meeting discussed and adopted basin-wide strategies. These included the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development 2016-2025, the medium-term strategy of the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) for the coming six years, and other key guidance in the areas of offshore, pollution, biodiversity, coastal zone management, and climate change adaptation.


Addressing participants, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner highlighted the proud record of the Barcelona Convention as the only legally binding instrument that addresses management of the unique Mediterranean ecosystem.


Mr Steiner emphasized that 2015 “laid out a new trajectory” with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Summit on Climate Change, confirming that the Barcelona Convention will have a key role in achieving these goals in the Mediterranean.


Mediterranean ministers, representatives of Contracting Parties and partners also celebrated the Convention’s 40th anniversary with the theme ‘Forty Years of Cooperation for Healthy and Productive Mediterranean Sea and Coast: A Collective Journey Towards Sustainable Development,’ in the presence of UN Assistant-Secretary-General and UNEP Deputy Executive Director Ibrahim Thiaw.


With the Athens Declaration, they also renewed their commitment to enhance measures to reduce pressures on their marine and coastal environment.


In his statement, Gaetano Leone, Coordinator of the MAP-Barcelona Convention Secretariat, emphasised that “the immediate future will be about implementation with focus on two lines of actions. One is to support countries in the implementation of the package of instruments developed around the Barcelona Convention and the ambitious agenda discussed at the COP. The other is to work towards better data sharing and a more rigorous and integrated monitoring, environment assessment and reporting,” he revealed.


Following an invitation from Albania, the Contracting Parties decided to hold the next COP in Tirana in December 2017.


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