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1 - Countries Agree Ambitious Conservation Measures for Mediterranean

Athens, 12 February 2016 - Ministers and representatives of 21 Mediterranean countries agreed in Athens yesterday an ambitious plan to address critical threats to marine and coastal environments, including loss of biodiversity, climate change and unsustainable consumption and production.

The event marked the 40th anniversary of the Barcelona Convention, which together with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Mediterranean Action Plan represents one of the most advanced legal frameworks for marine protection.

Alternate Minister of Environment and Energy of Greece Ioannis Tsironis said: "Environmental protection, which used to be on the sidelines of the political agenda, is now at the centre of our quest on how our societies can move on to the future. The Mediterranean Action Plan has proven it can contribute to many fields with great success."

Deputy Executive Director of UNEP, Ibrahim Thiaw said: "I am very proud to celebrate with you today the 40th anniversary of the Barcelona Convention. Forty years of success. Forty years of management of an exceptional ecosystem that not only one, or two but three continents share! Forty years of cooperation, collaboration and solidarity between North and South, beyond political divergences, social upheavals, and economic differences."

He pointed out that the meeting was one of the first major conferences to follow the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement. "While 2015 will be remembered as a major milestone in terms of international agreements, 2016 has been called the year for implementation and delivery. We must seize that opportunity, and ride that momentum," he said.

The meeting concluded with Mediterranean countries adopting the Athens Declaration, in which they pledged to prevent pollution from maritime transport, marine exploration, and land-based activities, protect biodiversity, sustainably manage coastal zones, and increase the region's resilience to the impacts of climate change.

Countries also approved the MAP budget submitted by the Secretariat, including a 3 per cent increase to cover various costs including the convening of the Conference of the Parties.

Acting on behalf of UNEP/MAP, UNEP Deputy Executive Director Ibrahim Thiaw signed memoranda of understanding with the Black Sea Commission and the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS).

The agreements will see tighter cooperation between the two Regional Seas systems on marine monitoring programmes, integrated coastal zone management and ecosystems-based approach to conservation, particularly of cetaceans, such as whales and dolphins.



The Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) was adopted in 1975 by Mediterranean countries and the European Community under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme's Regional Seas Programme to monitor and protect the Mediterranean marine environment from pollution threats while ensuring the integrated development of the natural basin's resources on the basis of multilateral cooperation.

About the Barcelona Convention

In 1976, Mediterranean countries and the European Community adopted the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution as the legal basis for international cooperation in protecting the Mediterranean environment.

The scope of Barcelona Convention gradually widened to include integrated coastal zone planning and management. Today, 40 years later, there are 22 Contracting Parties working together to protect the Mediterranean marine and coastal environment while boosting regional and national plans to achieve sustainable development.

Photo Credit: Thierry CC



Further Resources

Speech by Ibrahim Thiaw, UNEP Deputy Executive Director at the Barcelona Convention meeting



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