The 23rd Meeting (COP23) of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols took place in Portoroz (Slovenia) from 5-8 December. The MIO-ECSDE Chairperson, two staff members of the MIO-ECSDE Secretariat, three members of its Executive Bureau and several of its member NGOs were among the 365 participants.

The Chairman was a panelist of the Ministerial Session: “Green transition in the Mediterranean: From decisions into actions” (December 7th) during which he explained how the Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystem (WEFE) Nexus approach can help in bringing down the silos in governmental action, recognizing natural continuums and “turning knots of competing uses of natural resources into points of convergence”. In this way the nexus can serve the green transition we all want to see in the Mediterranean.

In the Portoroz Ministerial Declaration (En, Fr, Ar), the Contracting Parties (21 countries and the European Union) once again vow to undertake the required shifts to decouple economic progress from the drivers of environmental degradation, and to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Mediterranean region. It remains to be seen if actual implementation will follow suit.

MIO-ECSDE along with member organisations AOYE, CIDCE, DPPVN, ECO-UNION, EKO-KVARNER, MAREVIVO, MEDASSET, MOHAMMED VI FOUNDATION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION, RAED) and other MAP Partners (ACG, AREBI, GWP-Med) present, prepared a joint statement which was read to the Ministers and other participants, during the Ministerial segment of the COP. We tried to stress some of the weaknesses of the Declaration, with perhaps the biggest one being that it did not mention at all the need for the region as a whole to advance in acceding to the Aarhus Convention on access to environmental information, public participation in environmental matters and access to justice. We would like to thank the member organisations that were there with us. These principles underpin the much coveted green and fair transition.

In addition to the intense work during the proper sessions of the COP, MIO-ECSDE was very active in the many official Side Events of the COP. In fact, the following side events were (co-)organized by MIO-ECSDE:

  • Navigating Change: Progress and prospects in the Mediterranean’s Plastic Pollution Battle (December 5th). The side event aimed to chart the progress in the Mediterranean’s fight against plastic pollution and illuminate the transformative actions taken to shift from a throwaway mindset to embracing sustainable alternatives. This workshop, which brought together more than 65 participants, was insightful as it illuminated the challenges faced and explored the future steps that hold the key to lasting change. The event was organized by MIO-ECSDE, UNISI, RAED, ACG, and EnerGeo Alliance (read more here).
  • Education and youth: The process and actors to secure a sustainable future for the Mediterranean region (December 8th). The Mediterranean Committee on Education for Sustainable Development (MCESD – technically supported by MEdIES/MIO-ECSDE) and the Republic of Slovenia joined forces and brought more than 60 participants (governments, IGOs, NGOs and Youth Associations representatives to the event to share, discuss and provide insights on how to solidify and upscale good practices at national and regional levels of youth empowerment and engagement in and through Education for Sustainable Development, and further explore resisting challenges at the institutional and operational levels (read more here).

As a Water and Environment Support (WES) project consortium member, MIO-ECSDE also contributed to two more official COP23 side events:

  • Unite locally, act nationally: EcoPact implements national plans for a sustainable environment in Bizerte-Tunisia, organized by the Ministry of Environment of Tunisia/ ECO PACT – Lake Bizerte Program and the WES project (7 December)
  • Advancing the Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems (WEFE) Nexus: towards a strategic framework document in the Mediterranean source to sea continuum (8 December)

Finally, MIO-ECSDE contributed to the civil society side event organized by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of Slovenia on the last day of the COP.

Read more on COP23 and its results in English, French and Arabic here.

Read this article in French here