At the invitation of the Government of Montenegro, the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development (MCSD) convened in Budva, Montenegro, on 11-13 June 2019 to review progress in the implementation of the Mediterranean Strategy on Sustainable Development. The Strategy is the overarching framework guiding the efforts of the Mediterranean Action Plan community in securing a sustainable future for the region, in line with the universal, integrated and indivisible 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Commission welcomed with appreciation the progress report presented by the UN Environment/MAP Coordinator, Mr. Gaetano Leone, fwho noted in his opening address that the MCSD is the only advisory body of its kind to provide policy advice on sustainable development at a regional-sea level. He observed that “the advisory role of the MCSD is of paramount importance to support the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention for mainstreaming the integrated approach of sustainable development at the national and local levels, as well as for breaking silos generated by sectoral approaches”.
During the meeting in Budva, a roundtable discussion brought together representatives of the three UN Regional Commissions covering the Mediterranean basin (UN-ECA, UN-ECE and UN-ESCWA) and a member of the UN Independent Group of Scientists that authored the 2019 Global Sustainable Development Report to be presented at the High-Level SDG Summit in New York in September 2019. The Commissions called for stronger engagement at the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) – an annual meeting convened by the United Nations to review progress in the implementation of the SDGs.
The Budva meeting culminated in a set of recommendations on the delivery of an inclusive and sustainable growth in the Mediterranean, in line with the principles of the Blue Economy. The meeting’s recommendations on filling the gaps, improving regional cooperation and accelerating the implementation of the SDGs in the Mediterranean region will feed into the high-level policy debate on environmental governance that will take place in Naples, Italy, on 2-5 December 2019, when the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention hold their 21st Ordinary Meeting (COP 21).
Overview of the main MCSD recommendations
In its recommendations, the Commission recognized the importance of the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development (MSSD), as a powerful instrument at the disposal of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention to accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the region.
The Commission welcomed the sharing of experiences among Contracting Parties participating in the Voluntary National Review (VNR) at the HLPF and in the Simplified Peer Review Mechanism (SIMPEER), both recognized as crucial processes for the accelerations of the SDGs implementation by the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention.
As the MAP –Barcelona Convention system prepares the publication of two flagship reports, namely the State of Environment and Development in the Mediterranean (SoED 2019) and Foresight Study on the Environment and Development in the Mediterranean (MED2050), the Commission provided comments on their content, including the balance of environmental and socio-economic components, the range of themes to be addressed, the need to consider international best practices and the importance of an effective dissemination of the findings. The SoED 2019 will notably be submitted to the Meeting of MAP Focal Points (Athens, 10-13 September 2019), and subsequently to COP21 (Naples, 2-5 December 2019) for adoption.
The rich discussion in Budva also addressed the role of the private sector in laying the groundwork for a sustainable future in the Mediterranean. Given the pivotal nature of the tourism sector, the Commission invited the Contracting Parties to bridge existing gaps, including the need to assess the value of ecosystem services when considering policy options and their socio-economic benefits. In weighing the various options, the Contracting Parties can use specific blue economy indicators provided in the Mediterranean Sustainability Dashboard.
The Commission also called for a stronger engagement of the private sector, noting that ecosystem-based integrated marine and coastal planning processes – two concepts enshrined in the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols – need to address mass tourism management and planning, including nautical and cruise tourism.
Election of the new MCSD Steering Committee
Delegates of the 22 Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention and 18 representatives of six stakeholder groups, including local authorities, private sector, civil society, intergovernmental organizations, scientists and parliamentarians participate on an equal footing in the MCSD deliberations.
The MCSD elected its Steering Committee as follows: