In a resounding success, the side event “Navigating Change: Progress and Prospects in the Mediterranean’s Plastic Pollution Battle,” held on December 5th in Portorož, Slovenia, as part of the Barcelona Convention’s COP23, showcased a vibrant collective effort towards combating plastic pollution in the Mediterranean. Organized by MIO-ECSDE and other leading environmental organizations, including UNISI, RAED, ACG, and EnerGeo Alliance, the workshop brought together over 65 participants dedicated to steering the region away from a throwaway mindset towards effective marine litter prevention actions.

At the heart of the event were two enduring and comprehensive initiatives: the UfM labelled Plastic Busters Initiative and the EU-funded “Water and Environment Support (WES) in the ENI Neighbourhood South Region” project. Participants delved into the cumulative impact, cutting-edge outputs, and best practices of these initiatives, shedding light on invaluable experiences and lessons learned.

Furthermore, the event highlighted several other major marine litter initiatives, addressing the entire management cycle, from monitoring and assessment to prevention and mitigation. Key marine litter civil society actors such as ACG, RAED, EnerGeo Alliance, and MIO-ECSDE shared their experiences, contributing to the collective knowledge in the ongoing battle against marine pollution.

Thomais Vlachogianni, MIO-ECSDE Senior Policy/Programme Officer and co-organizer of the event, highlighted, “The ten-year-long unique spirit of collaboration, commitment, and enthusiasm in implementing the Regional Plan on Marine Litter Management in the Mediterranean is truly commendable. While we may have made strides in breaking the trends of plastic pollution, there is still a long way to go in reversing them.

Marine plastic pollution was one of the main issues addressed also by the Portorož Ministerial Declaration, where the Contracting Parties:

  • Welcomed the progress in developing an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, and calling for all efforts to be undertaken to conclude negotiations before the end of 2024.
  • Pledged to ensure that the contribution of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols to the negotiation process of the international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution considers the regional and national contexts, challenges and achievements in tackling marine litter and plastic pollution.
  • Committed to addressing plastic pollution including through the promotion of circular approaches and reduction of single-use plastics.

Read this article in French here