The marine litter threat in the Mediterranean and the ongoing concrete efforts to reduce its adverse effects towards good environmental status in the coastal and marine environment were in focus at the Barcelona Convention COP20 side event organized by MIO-ECSDE. Entitled “SDG14 and Marine Litter: what progress has been made in the Mediterranean” it took place on the last day of the COP, which was held in Tirana, Albania from 17-20 February 2017, and offered a sense of relief that important steps and actions on this serious challenge have been taken in the region.

The side event not only highlighted the policy advances and pilot actions in the region against marine litter pollution and in support of the Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter Management in the Mediterranean, but also showcased on going comprehensive initiatives to tackle marine litter in Mediterranean MPAs.

The event brought together some 45 participants who had the opportunity to be informed about capitalizing on the cutting edge outputs, best practices and lessons learned of these initiatives, as well as on how these can be expanded and replicated in order to serve the needs of other Mediterranean countries.

The side event was facilitated by Prof. Michael Scoullos, SWIM-H2020 SM Team Leader and the event’s panelists were:

  • Matjaž Malgaj, Head of Unit, Marine Environment and Water Industry, European Union, DG Environment
  • Jelena Knezevic, UN Environment MAP/MEDPOL Programme Officer & Christos Ioakimeidis, UN Environment MAP marine litter expert
  • Thomais Vlachogianni, MIO-ECSDE Programme Officer/SWIM-H2020 SM marine litter expert/ACT4LITTER
  • Rachid Firadi, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Rural Development, Waters and Forests of Morocco

MIO-ECSDE Programme Officer, Thomais Vlachogianni, in her intervention stressed the key role of civil society in the fight against marine litter and shared MIO-ECSDE’s recent concrete showcases on the science-policy-society interface such as the ACT4LITTER project, the SWIM-H2020 SM Project, the DeFishGear project, the MARLISCO Project, the ALDFG project.

Despite the substantial efforts invested and the achievements made on the marine litter threat it was very clear during the discussions held that so much more remains to be done to finally tackle this societal challenge.