UN Environment/Mediterranean Action Plan and Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC) participated to the 2nd Forum of the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR), jointly organized by the European Commission and the Hellenic Republic in Ioannina (Greece), from 11 to 12 May 2017.
More than 600 participants attended the forum including representatives of the European Commission and Institutions, line Ministers, national, regional and local administrations, the business sector, academia, and the civil society. The event was an opportunity for networking, during which stakeholders discussed concrete suggestions to define the way forward in the implementation of the said Strategy.
Special focus was put on Blue Growth and its interrelations with the other EUSAIR pillars: Environmental quality, Sustainable tourism and Connectivity. Mr. Ilias Mavroeidis, Programme Management Officer, at the Mediterranean Action Plan of the United Nations Environment Programme , and Mr. Gabino Gonzalez, the Head of office of the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC) were panelists in the Plenary Session on Blue Growth and the Environment
Mr. Mavroeidis presented an overview about the work of the MAP system and highlighted the way blue growth can contribute to the implementation of the Barcelona Convention and Sustainable Development Goal 14. He stressed on the importance of the ecosystem approach and the use of Marine Protected Areas and Integrated Coastal Zone Management/Marine Spatial Planning, as key tools to ensure that the legitimate uses of the marine and coastal areas support ecosystem services to achieve good environmental status. Furthermore, he highlighted the collaboration between UN Environment/MAP and actors such as the General Management Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and referred to the links of the work of EUSAIR with the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development and the implementation of the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development 2016-2025. Finally, he stressed on the need for further coordination at cross-sectoral, global, regional, sub-regional and national levels.
Mr. Gonzalez, the Head of office of the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC) a component of UN Environment/MAP, provided an overview of the potential impact of large scale marine pollution on socio-economic activities. Whilst recalling the contribution of the UN Environment/MAP, IMO and REMPEC over the past 40 years, he underlined the work carried out in the Adriatic and Ionian region and at regional level relevant to the Environmental quality pillar of EUSAIR. In his conclusion, he highlighted, in particular, the need to invest, today, and mobilize means and resources for the prevention of, preparedness for and response to marine pollution, to mitigate its potential impact on Blue Growth. This can only be achieved with the support and collaboration of existing experienced international and regional organizations, through legal frameworks in place, starting from the expansion of the sub-regional contingency plan in the Adriatic Sea and moving toward the capitalization of macro-regional and international projects on ballast water management and other transnational issues arising from an enhanced cooperation in the Adriatic and Ionian region.