COP23 at Portoroz

23rd Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention (COP 23)

5–8 December 2023 | Portorož, Slovenia


Delegates praised the Convention as an example of how to translate global commitments into regional action. The week’s highlights included the adoption of the new Programme of Work and Budget 2024-2025, and the Portorož Ministerial Declaration, in which Parties commit to a healthy Mediterranean environment.

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The Mediterranean region comprises a wide variety of landscapes, cultures and economies. It also faces major environmental, climate and geopolitical challenges. With the overall aim of improving the environmental status of the Mediterranean region and promoting a sustainable blue economy, 23rd Meeting (COP 23) of the Contracting Parties to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal region of the Mediterranean (Barcelona Convention) and its Protocols addressed some of these challenges facing the region.

COP 23 convened concurrently with the UN Climate Change Convention in Dubai. It also met for the first time since the adoption of the Global Biodiversity Framework, and against the backdrop of ongoing negotiations on a new international treaty to address plastic pollution. The Barcelona Convention serves as an example of how to translate global environment and sustainability commitments into regional legal instruments and action.

Six main issues constituted the backbone of the COP 23 agenda, namely:

  • consolidating the evidence base for the pursuit of Good Environmental Status in the Mediterranean;
  • implementing the Strategic Action Programme for the Conservation of Biodiversity and Sustainable Management of Natural Resources in the Mediterranean Region (SAP BIO);
  • addressing the sources of land-based pollution;
  • ingraining sustainability into the blue economy;
  • paving the way for UN Environment Programme/Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP) activities during the 2024-2025 biennium; and
  • enhancing governance, implementation, communication, and advocacy.

COP 23 also reviewed the progress achieved during the 2022-2023 biennium, considered strategic documents, and adopted decisions, including on the Programme of Work (PoW) and budget for the 2024-2025 biennium.

The overarching goal of the Barcelona Convention is to enhance the protection of the Mediterranean region’s marine and coastal environment in the context of sustainable development. The Convention’s main objectives are to: assess and control marine pollution; ensure sustainable management of natural marine and coastal resources; integrate the environment into social and economic development; protect the marine environment and coastal zones through preventing and reducing pollution and, as far as possible, eliminating both land- and sea-based pollution; protect the natural and cultural heritage; strengthen solidarity among Mediterranean coastal States; and contribute to improvement of the quality of life.

COP 23 was organized by UNEP/MAP and took place from 5-8 December 2023 in Portoroz, Slovenia.

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) writers for this meeting were Nienke Beintema, Olivia Pasini, and José Félix Pinto-Bazurco, Ph.D. The Digital Editor was Mika Schröder. The Editor was Leila Mead. Video coverage was produced by Andrés Carvajal and Rosalie Boyd.

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