The 21st Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols (COP21) took place on 2-5 December 2019 in Castel dell’Ovo, a medieval seaside castle in Naples, Italy. The COP21 report is being finalized along with the 14 decisions adopted by the Contracting Parties. The meeting documents will be published on the UNEP/MAP website: www.unepmap.org
Unequivocal signals of commitment and support from the Contracting Parties
The UNEP/MAP Coordinator Gaetano Leone received a message from H.E. Mr. Sergio Mattarella, President of the Republic of Italy, wishing COP21 delegates well in their deliberations.
- H.E. Mr. Sergio Costa, Minister for Environment, Land and Sea Protection of Italy, opened COP21 on 2 December and its Ministerial Segment on 4 December 2019, and attended several sessions of the meeting. “I wish to underline the centrality of the Barcelona Convention, its protocols, its specialized centers and the persons who make them work and who are the bearers of our being Mediterranean, and who find themselves today acting in a context of growing environmental and geopolitical challenges," Minister Costa said in his COP21 opening speech on 2 December 2019.
- The Contracting Parties reiterated their commitment to the health of the Mediterranean Sea and coast. The Naples Declaration encapsulates strong political support to the UNEP/MAP mandate in four priority areas, namely marine litter, the blue economy, biodiversity and marine protected areas, and climate change.
- The UNEP/MAP Coordinator said that the Naples Declaration is “an eloquent expression of political support to the UNEP/MAP—Barcelona Convention system’s role, achievements and plans in responding to the pressing environmental challenges facing the Mediterranean region.”
- All 22 Contracting Parties– 21 Mediterranean States and the European Union – were represented at the four-day meeting. Delegates included Ministers and senior officials from Contracting Parties.
- In her speech at the opening of COP21Ministerial Segment (4 December 2019), UNEP Deputy Executive Director Joyce Msuya observed that “for forceful evidence of the strength of this Convention, we have only to look at its remarkably solid funding situation: to date, nearly 93 per cent of this year’s assessed contributions of Contracting Parties to the Mediterranean Trust Fund have already been received. This financial commitment demonstrates that Contracting Parties believe in this instrument, what it has achieved, and what achievements are still to come.”
Message from the UN to the Contracting Parties: if we make it here, we will make it anywhere
- H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson, United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Ocean, said in his video message to COP21 that “the Barcelona Convention constitutes an important piece in the mosaic of regional Multilateral Environmental Agreements that underpin global efforts to address the plight of the ocean."
- UNEP Deputy Executive Director Joyce Msuya addressed the Ministerial Segment saying that “it is your job here to carry forward this momentum, and then to spread the word at the global level – at other COPs, as well as at the UN Ocean Conference next year – about the immense importance and huge potential of working collaboratively in the regions. Because progress here in the regions can serve as a powerful driving force towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals for the world as a whole.”
- Mr. Habib El-Habr, Coordinator, Global Programme of Action, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), highlighted the UNEP/MAP Regional Plan on Marine Litter Management as the first legally binding plan of its kind.
- In a video message, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim spoke about the importance of the pioneering UNEP Regional Seas Programme and said that “it all started here in the Mediterranean”. He commended UNEP/MAP in the following terms: “the Mediterranean has one of the oldest and most established programs with a long-standing record of cooperation that has served as an example for many other regions in the world to follow.”
- Mr. Gaetano Leone, UNEP/MAP-Barcelona Convention Secretariat Coordinator, appealed for parties to “look beyond the minutia of words and budget lines and to consider decisions in light of the need for higher ambition.” He argued that “the timing is right to bolster the convening role of UNEP/MAP and to demonstrate our collective commitment to healthy and resilient marine and coastal ecosystems in the Mediterranean. Next year is said to be a super year for the oceans. The MAP-Barcelona Convention system must be part of the global processes.” Read the full speech here.
- Hours after the conclusion of COP21, the Mediterranean was in the spotlight again, this time at COP25 UNFCCC. Coordinator Gaetano Leone spoke about the UNEP/MAP-Barcelona Convention system as a framework for regional cooperation to address climate change: http://bit.ly/MAPCOP25.
COP21 was the most inclusive meeting of the Contracting Parties since the inception of the Mediterranean Action Plan
- A young activist, Ms. Federica Gasbarro, spoke at the Ministerial Segment highlighting the involvement of representatives of Mediterranean youth in the COP21 preparatory process. The “Towards COP21 - Youth Meeting” (Naples, Italy, 23 October 2019) saw the participation of representatives of youth nominated by the Contracting Parties.
- A regional consultation took place in Athens, Greece, on 24-25 October 2019, and served as an opportunity for the MAP stakeholders to reflect on the main themes of COP21 and to provide their contributions to the discussions on the Ministerial Declaration. The outcomes of the meeting were reported to the Contracting Parties of the Barcelona Convention at COP 21 for consideration in the Naples Ministerial Declaration and in the preparation of the new UNEP/MAP Medium-Term Strategy 2022-2027. Read more about the stakeholder consultation.
- A record 300 registered participants, including civil society and intergovernmental organizations, took part in the negotiations, side-events, exhibitions and panel discussions on the health of Mediterranean marine and coastal ecosystems.
The decisions adopted demonstrate a continued action-oriented momentum
The Contracting Parties adopted 14 decisions: 13 thematic decisions and one decision on the MAP Programme of Work and Budget 2020-2021
- Groundbreaking A roadmap for the proposal of a possible designation of the Mediterranean as an Emission Control Area for Sulphur Oxides was adopted, in line with the terms of Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). Read this article from our archives (June 2019) on the significance of this development.
- The Contracting Parties adopted thematic decisions pertaining to the circular economy, guidelines on the placement of artificial reefs at sea, offshore guidelines and standards and the common regional framework for integrated coastal zone management (ICZM).
- COP21 examined the findings of the evaluation of the implementation of the Strategic Action Programme for the Conservation of Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean Region (SAP BIO) and adopted updated strategies and plans for the conservation of monk seal, sharks and rays among other iconic Mediterranean species. The designation of four new sites as “Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMI)” in France, Italy, Slovenia and Spain was also adopted.
- The Contracting Parties adopted elements of six regional plans to reduce and prevent marine pollution from Land-Based Sources (LBS) will now complement and bolster the LBS and Dumping Protocols of the Barcelona Convention.
- COP 21 updated and mandated the preparation of additional legally binding measures to address marine litter, waste water and sludge management using prevention, resource efficiency, sustainable consumption and production, and circular economy approaches.
- COP21 welcomed and cleared the publication (in 2020) of the UNEP/MAP State of Environment and Development Report (SoED 2019), which describes mounting pressure on the Mediterranean basin deriving from population growth, climate change, agriculture and fisheries, tourism, extractive industries and transport.
- COP21 adopted the proposed Programme of Work and an increased core budget of UNEP/MAP for the 2020-2021 biennium. Contracting Parties also endorsed the launch of preparations for the next UNEP/MAP medium-term strategy (2022-2027) in the context of the 2030 Agenda implementation.
Front and center: the transition to sustainability in the Mediterranean
- COP21 agenda carried 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).
- A High-Level Panel discussion entitled “Protecting the marine environment and coastal region of the Mediterranean: game-changing action for sustainability” took place on 4 December 2019 during the Ministerial Segment. The Panel was rolled out in two consecutive sessions: “Periscope” and “Propulsion”. The former focused on challenges and opportunities that should factor into policymaking to achieve Good Environmental Status in the context of sustainable development. The latter took the shape of an action-oriented collective reflection on leverage points that would accelerate the required transition. Read more about the speakers and the themes.
- The Mayor of the Municipality of Ashdod (Israel), Mr. Yechiel Lasry, received the Istanbul Environment Friendly City Award from Ms. Maria Carmela Giarratano, President of the Bureau of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols, during an official ceremony that took place on 2 December 2019. In the press release announcing Ashdod as the winner for the 2018-2019 edition of the award, UNEP/MAP Coordinator Gaetano Leone highlighted the action taken by Ashdod to reconcile development with environmental protection. Read more about the Award ceremony at COP21 in Naples.
Day 1: UNEP/MAP Coordinator on what’s at stake at COP21
UNEP/MAP-Barcelona Convention Secretariat Coordinator Gaetano Leone provides insights into the COP21 agenda and highlights key decisions before Contracting Parties. Watch
Day 3 (Ministerial Segment): UNEP Deputy Executive Director’s statement on COP21
UNEP Deputy Executive Director Joyce Msuya encourages Contracting Parties to commit new resources, strengthen national plans, ensure universal ratification of pending protocols, and deliver the commitments made in the context of global and regional frameworks. Watch
Day 4: UNEP/MAP Deputy Coordinator’s statement on COP21 outcome
UNEP/MAP-Barcelona Convention Secretariat Deputy Coordinator Tatjana Hema speaks about the outcomes of COP21, and explains their significance in the Mediterranean region. Watch
Biodiversity and Marine Protected Areas
As Contracting Parties considered the designation of four new Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMI), SPA/RAC Director Khalil Attia spoke to IISD about these areas and how they deliver benefits to the region and the world. Watch
State of the Environment and Development Report (SoED 2019)
Plan Bleu Director Elen Lemaitre-Curri speaks about the SoED 2019 and its findings. This flagship UNEP/MAP report will be published and launched in 2020. Watch
What does the latest IPCC SROCC tell us about the Mediterranean region?
Prof. Thomas Frölicher, IPCC Lead Author and member of the COP21 High-Level Panel, presents findings of the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate and shares reflections on the Mediterranean region related to impacts of climate change. Watch
Private sector: part of the solution to the plastic problem
High-Level Panel member Jacob Duer, President of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, was interviewed on the sidelines of COP21 and framed the private sector as part of the solution in addressing the scourge of plastic marine litter. Watch
More about COP21
- IISD coverage of COP21, including daily summaries, photos and videos, is available here.
- The debate that COP21 stoked on Twitter and other social media platforms can be reviewed using the official hashtag #COP21Napoli and #BarcelonaConvention. We have compiled a Twitter Moment for you.
- The COP21 website is available at the following address: www.cop21med-italy.net.