Underwater

Highlights and images of main proceedings for 7 December 2021

Antalya, Turkey

Barcelona Convention COP 22 | What's at stake?

The 22nd Meeting of the Contracting Parties (COP 22) to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean (Barcelona Convention) and its Protocols started its deliberations in Antalya, Turkey.

On the first day of work, delegates:

  • Watched an inspiring opening video on the Barcelona Convention’s activities and significance;
  • Listened to opening statements, highlighting the importance of COP 22, held at a critical point in time amidst important developments in multilateral environmental fora;
  • Addressed organizational items, approving the meeting agenda and discussing the most appropriate way to organize forthcoming work;
  • Established two contact groups to address the programme of work and budget for 2022-2023, and the Antalya Ministerial Declaration respectively; and
  • Discussed 11 thematic decisions, approving most of them.
Opening video

Participants watch an opening video on the Barcelona Convention’s activities

In opening statements, Carlo Zaghi, President of the Bureau of the Contracting Parties, Ministry of Ecological Transition, Italy, via live audio message, noted that the meeting was convening at a crucial moment with the international community working towards a green recovery while still struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Murat Kurum, Minister of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change, Turkey, stressed that the soundest evidence suggests that no single country can combat the Mediterranean Sea region’s sustainability problems alone and expressed hope that the conference would be a turning point in recognizing the necessity for cooperation.

Murat Kurum, Minister of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change, Turkey

Murat Kurum, Minister of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change, Turkey

Kerstin Stendhal, Head of Ecosystems Integration Branch, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), highlighted the pioneering role of the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) within the UNEP Regional Seas Programme. She noted that holding COP 22 during these challenging times actively demonstrates the strong commitment of the Contracting Parties, adding that the UNEP/MAP Medium-Term Strategy for 2022-2027 should validate the need for linkages, integration, and mainstreaming of sea and ocean protection and conservation in policies and programmes.

Kerstin Stendahl, Head of Ecosystems Integration Branch, UNEP

Kerstin Stendahl, Head of Ecosystems Integration Branch, UNEP

Tatjana Hema, Coordinator of UNEP/MAP – Barcelona Convention, looked forward to COP 22 being considered historic and setting the path for a green recovery of the region. She referred to sustainable solutions that will enable Mediterranean countries to overcome socio-economic losses incurred because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tatjana Hema, Coordinator, UNEP-MAP

Tatjana Hema, Coordinator of UNEP/MAP – Barcelona Convention

COP22 President Mehmet Emin Birpinar, Deputy Minister of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change, Turkey, invited delegates to address organizational matters and thematic decisions. 

On thematic decisions, delegates discussed draft decisions on:

  • The UNEP/MAP Medium-Term Strategy 2022-2027;
  • The Compliance Committee;
  • Governance;
  • Assessment studies;
  • Amendments to annexes to the Protocol on pollution from land-based sources (LBS Protocol);
  • Amendments to annexes to the Dumping Protocol;
  • Amendments to annexes to the Offshore Protocol;
  • Regional plans on urban wastewater treatment and sewage sludge management;
  • Amendments to the Regional Plan on Marine Litter Management;
  • MAP data policy; and
  • The designation of the Mediterranean Sea, as a whole, as an emission control area for sulfur oxides (MED SOx ECA) pursuant to MARPOL Annex VI.

Delegates agreed upon most of the draft decisions. The draft decisions on: regional plans on urban wastewater treatment; marine litter management; and the designation of the Mediterranean as an emission control area for sulfur oxides attracted considerable attention. It was determined that a limited number of outstanding issues would require further deliberations.

On urban wastewater treatment, delegates were not yet able to reach agreement on a qualifying bracketed reference “to the extent possible,” with regard to timelines for adopting measures for the collection and treatment of urban wastewater. Discussions will continue. Regarding marine litter, delegates discussed whether the national action plans should include marine litter hotspots from riverine or other land-based sources. On the designation of the Mediterranean Sea as an emission control area for sulfur oxides, discussions will continue as one Contracting Party posed implementation-related challenges, expressing the inability to commit to the designation’s requirements.

Barcelona Convention COP 22 | The Mediterranean Action Plan

Two side events took place during the day. At lunchtime, an event focusing on biodiversity showcased conservation efforts and detailed actions necessary to tackle threats to biodiversity. In the afternoon, an event was held on the blue economy, which included presentations on blue tourism and the role of nature-based and circular entrepreneurship in post-COVID-19 recovery strategies.

Coverage of COP 22 Barcelona Convention by IISD/Earth Negotiations Bulletin is supported by Monaco.

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