80 delegates representing the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention, UN Environment/Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), UN Environment, governmental and non-governmental organizations, civil society and the private sector met in Malta on 11-13 June 2019 to step up regional cooperation on the prevention of and response to pollution from ships in the Mediterranean. The Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC) organised the gathering as part of its thirteenth Meeting of the Focal Points.
In her opening address, Ms. Tatjana Hema, Deputy Coordinator of UN Environment/MAP underscored the importance of regional cooperation in addressing the nefarious impacts of pollution from ships on human health and ecosystems. She reiterated the UN Environment/MAP commitment to fostering existing tools and instruments at the disposal of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols, including through technical capacity building and policy dialogue.
Participants resolved to strengthen capacity and cooperation on pollution response and agreed to launch a wide consultation process to prepare the post-2021 Mediterranean Strategy for Prevention of and Response to Marine Pollution from Ships.
Delegates also agreed to explore and establish synergies between the Regional Plan on Marine Litter Management in the Mediterranean and the IMO Action Plan to address marine plastic litter from ships, and to seek a sustainable and collaborative approach to implement effectively the Offshore Protocol and its Action Plan.
The possible designation of the Mediterranean Sea as an Emission Control Area for Sulphur Oxides under MARPOL Annex VI was also on the agenda. Participants agreed in principle to further examining this initiative, which would have significant positive impacts on ecosystems and human health.
Delegates congratulated REMPEC on the 25th Anniversary of the establishment of the Mediterranean Assistance Unit (MAU) and welcomed the signing of an agreement with MAU sixth member, namely the Adriatic Training and Research Centre for Accidental Marine Pollution Preparedness and Response (ATRAC).
The outcomes of the REMPEC Focal Points meeting will feed into the policy discussion that the city of Naples will host on 5-11 December 2019, when the UN Environment/MAP-Barcelona Convention System holds the 21st edition of the meeting of the Contracting Parties (COP21).