After four days of negotiations, panel discussions and side events, the works of the 21st Meeting of the Contracting Parties (COP21) to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean (the Barcelona Convention) and its Protocols held in Naples, Italy were concluded today with the adoption of the Naples Ministerial Declaration.

The year 2020 was recognized as a critical turning point for the conservation and sustainable management of the Mediterranean Sea and the imperative need for a green New Deal was highlighted.

Gaetano Leone, Coordinator, UNEP/Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP)-Barcelona Convention Secretariat, called the Mediterranean governments, stakeholders and all parties “to whom this beautiful basin belongs” to “look beyond the minutia of words and budget lines and consider decisions in light of the need for higher ambition.”

Signatories were deeply concerned with the increasing pressures that human activities are exerting on the natural resources of the Mediterranean Sea and committed to gear up for action on four priority areas: effectively address marine litter; strengthen and expand the Marine Protected Areas network, respond to the challenges arising from climate change; promote blue economy and an ecological transition in the region.

In their Declaration, all Parties agreed, among others, on: promoting circular approaches to open green economy opportunities; adopting national plans to progressively achieve 100% plastic waste collection and recycling; achieving the 10% of coverage of the Mediterranean region with MPAs by 2021; supporting a new ambitious plan for biodiversity and ecosystems through the development of the revised Strategic Action Programme; developing an ambitious strategy of adaptation to climate change.

Michael Scoullos, Chairman of MIO-ECSDE, said: “We live in a region that warms 20% faster than the world’s average. In times like the present, when the Mediterranean countries struggle with economic recessions and political instability, it is vital to adapt, replicate and scale up existing best practices in order to achieve the 2030 targets within the time frames. Full and effective collaboration between civil society and Contracting Parties is critical to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and achieve SDG14 and a series of other related SDGs at local, national, regional and transboundary level. We welcome the decisions of the COP21 and we hope that these will provide useful tools and inspiration for more ambitious targets for the conservation and sustainable management of our large marine ecosystem, the Mediterranean. We look to the next biennium with confidence that we can make considerable advances towards good environmental status in the Mediterranean; and we reaffirm our commitment and readiness to work with you together for a happier Mediterranean society within a better Mediterranean environment!

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