Barcelona Convention Parties Adopt Declaration on Marine Environment

unep-map11 December 2013: Mediterranean and EU Ministers and Heads of State committed to protect coastal and marine species and habitats at the 18th Ordinary Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean and its Protocols (CoP 18). CoP 18, which took place from 3-6 December 2103, in Istanbul, Turkey, resulted in the Istanbul Declaration, which includes 17 decisions.

Parties adopted decisions to protect and conserve marine species, including monk seals and marine turtles. Among the decisions on habitat protection and protected areas (PAs), Parties agreed to: develop a representative network of coastal and marine PAs, supported by sustainable financing; protect Mediterranean Sea coral habitat; and increase the number and visibility of the Specially PAs of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMI).

Parties also agreed on a Marine Litter Regional Action Plan to promote sustainable consumption and production (SCP) patterns, ensure environmentally sound waste management and reduce waste volumes. This plan represents the first regional effort on reducing marine debris since the outcome document of UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) called for such commitments. The plan outlines collaboration between the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) and industry to prevent, reduce and remove marine litter from the Mediterranean through developing technical capacity, reducing knowledge gaps and providing financial resources.

Parties further adopted decisions on, inter alia: development of an Action Plan to address Mediterranean SCP priorities, including reducing human impacts on coastal and marine ecosystems; and targets and definitions of 'Good Environmental Status' for 11 ecological objectives.

As part of MAP's 2014-15 programme of work, Parties agreed to revise action plans on measures to prevent pollution from offshore and shipping-based activities and to prioritize data collection and information exchange.

MAP signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) at the meeting. MAP and the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) will cooperate on sustainable development and pollution control and prevention. MAP and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) will address marine and coastal ecosystem conservation and the sustainable use of marine living resources.

MAP is a regional seas environmental agreement that includes 21 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea and the EU. MAP aims to protect coastal and marine environments and achieve sustainable development. The Barcelona Convention and its seven Protocols are the legal basis for cooperation to protect the Mediterranean environment. [UNEP Press Release] [COP 18 Website]