UN Environment/MAP Coordinator Gaetano Leone attended the 14th meeting of the thematic focal points for Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity held in Portorož, Slovenia, on 18-21 June 2019.
The meeting saw the participation of 20 Contracting Parties of the Barcelona Convention and representatives of several MAP components and partners.The discussion focused on measures aimed at enhancing national environmental policies, strategies and action plans pertaining to the conservation, monitoring and management of marine and coastal species and habitats in the Mediterranean.
Preparations for the 21st session of the Meeting of the Contracting parties to the Barcelona Convention (COP21), featured prominently on the agenda. COP21 will notably examine regional action plans submitted by the Contracting Parties for the conservation of monk seals, marine turtles, cartilaginous fishes (sharks and rays) and marine vegetation in the Mediterranean Sea. A reference list of marine habitat types, guidelines on Mediterranean offshore standards, including environmental impact assessment of oil and gas activities, and updated guidelines for regulating the placement of artificial reefs at sea are expected to be adopted by the Conference, which will take place in Naples, Italy, on 2-5 December 2019.
In Portorož, delegates also agreed on proposing the inclusion of four areas in the List of Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMI), which will also be submitted to COP21 for adoption. The candidate areas are the Cerbère-Banyuls Marine Nature Reserve (France), the Egadi Islands Marine Protected Area (Italy), the Landscape Park Strunjan (Slovenia) and the Cetaceans migration corridor in the Mediterranean (Spain).
The UN Environment/MAP Coordinator congratulated SPA/RAC on the successful conclusion of the meeting and welcomed the active participation of several important partners, including WWF, IUCN, MEDASSET, MedPAN, IOGP, ACCOBAMS, RAMOGE and MedFund.
In remarks to the Slovenian TV Channel RTV4, Mr. Leone underscored the importance and the relevance of multi-stakeholder deliberations that the Portorož meeting hosted: “the environment is suffering from several sources of very strong pressure: population growth, tourism, pollution. [Many human activities] have a positive impact in terms of economic growth, but they also take a heavy toll on the environmental situation of our Sea. [Deliberations on concrete measures, such as the set-up of Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance] allow for management modes that protect the species from pressures that would otherwise be very strong.”