During a very full day largely devoted to addressing draft decisions, the 22nd Meeting of the Contracting Parties (COP 22) to the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols continued its work in Antalya, Turkey.
Highlights of the day included:
- initial agreement on nine draft decisions pending final approval on Friday;
- progress reports from the chairs of the contact groups on the Antalya Declaration and on the programme of work and budget for the biennium 2022-23, highlighting substantive progress and documents nearing finalization;
- a reception celebrating UNEP’s 50th anniversary and the Barcelona Convention’s 45th anniversary; and
- an evening plenary to allow time to resolve issues related to the draft decision on the designation of the Mediterranean Sea, as a whole, as an Emission Control Area for sulfur oxides (MED SOx ECA) pursuant to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex VI.
Delegates discussed and agreed on draft decisions on:
- the Post-2020 Strategic Action Programme for the Conservation of Biodiversity and Sustainable Management of Natural Resources;
- protecting and conserving the Mediterranean through well connected and effective systems of marine and coastal protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures;
- guidelines for the conduct of environmental impact assessments under the Offshore Protocol;
- the Mediterranean Strategy for the Prevention, Preparedness and Response to Marine Pollution from Ships;
- the Ballast Water Management Strategy;
- a set of regional measures to support the development of green and circular businesses;
- regional plans on urban wastewater treatment and sewage sludge management;
- amendments to the regional plan on marine litter management in the Mediterranean in the Framework of Article 15 of the Land-Based Sources Protocol; and
- the designation of the Mediterranean Sea, as a whole, as a MED SOx ECA pursuant to MARPOL Annex VI.
The draft decisions on green and circular businesses, and on the regional plans on urban wastewater treatment and marine litter management, generated considerable debate. On green and circular businesses, delegates exchanged opinions on whether to refer to “a ban” or “a phase out” of certain single use plastic products, eventually opting for the latter.
On wastewater treatment, delegates debated whether to add the qualifier “to the extent possible” regarding a provision noting that all Contracting Parties shall ensure that all agglomerations are provided with collecting systems for urban wastewater by 2025 or 2030 according to their population. Contracting Parties eventually agreed to maintain the reference with a stipulation in the meeting report that the flexibility with regard to adopting abatement measures does not go beyond the scope provided in Article 15 of the Land-Based Sources Protocol.
On marine litter management, there was a lengthy discourse on the use of language on “marine litter hotspots.” Delegates eventually agreed to replace the contested language with “in conformity with the Land-Based Sources Protocol.”
On the designation of the Mediterranean as a whole, as a MED SOx ECA pursuant to MARPOL Annex VI, following lengthy discussions, delegates agreed to add an exception on the geographical scope regarding the waiting area of the Suez Canal in its determined coordinates according to a map included in Annex 2. The respective coordinates reflecting the map will be submitted by Egypt to the Secretariat at least by 24 December 2021 and will be subject to technical review by the IMO. Delegates agreed to 1 January 2025 as the date for the effective entry into force of the designation. They further agreed to “urge the Contracting Parties to ratify MARPOL Annex VI as soon as possible, at least by the date of entering into force of the MED SOx ECA to the extent possible.”
Three side events took place during the day. A full day side event, organized by Turkey, addressed: wastewater management; cooperation towards zero waste and circularity; ecolabelling practices; 3-D air pollution mapping; the Sustainable Consumption and Production National Action Plan; and enhancing adaptation action at the national level.
A lunchtime side event on climate change addressed resilience and adaptation as well as air pollution and noise. In the afternoon, another event focused on emerging issues and innovation, addressing: the Protocol on prevention and management of critical situations in the Mediterranean Sea; Alcudia Tech MAR, a project to turn the Alcanada power station in the Balearic Islands into an international center for the decarbonization of the sea; and the current COVID-19 situation linked with digital transformation for a sustainable environment.
Coverage of COP 22 Barcelona Convention by IISD/Earth Negotiations Bulletin is supported by Monaco.
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