Decisions to improve the environmental status of the Mediterranean
The regular biennial meeting of the representatives (Focal Points, FP) of Mediterranean countries and the European Union to the United Nations Environment Programme/Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP) was held in Athens from 10 to 13 September 2019, with the participation of HELMEPA as UNEP/MAP Partner organization and observer.
A main objective of the meeting was to examine technical and financial aspects of a series of draft decisions, aiming at controlling pollution, protecting biodiversity and stimulating sustainable development in the Mediterranean region.
The decisions under discussion, which will next be submitted for final review and approval to the 21st Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention (COP – UNEP/MAP’s supreme governing body) in Naples this December, included inter alia:
- six new regional plans to reduce or prevent marine pollution from land-based sources,
- common guidelines and standards to regulate offshore oil drilling activities,
- a common regional framework for Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM),
- action plans and strategies for the conservation of biological diversity and specific species, such as the Monk Seal, and the identification and conservation of sites of particular ecological Interest,
- regional measures aimed at supporting the development of green and circular businesses and stimulating demand for sustainable products,
- guidelines on the provision of port reception facilities for the delivery of ship-generated waste and the application of charges for their use, in line with the new European Directive.
Apart from the latter, of particular interest to the maritime sector was a draft decision regarding a road map for the submission of a proposal to the International Maritime Organization-IMO for the designation of the Mediterranean Sea as an Emission Control Area for sulphur oxides (SECA) under MARPOL Annex VI.
On the condition that the Mediterranean countries agree on such a proposal, the road map describes the necessary steps (with an accompanying timetable) to formulate and submit the proposal to IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee-MEPC, with a foreseeable entry into force of the measure in 2024.