COP21 High-level panel

Protecting the marine environment and coastal region of the Mediterranean: game-changing action for sustainability

Panel discussion - Naples, Italy, 4 December 2017

The scale of the pressures being exerted on Mediterranean marine and coastal ecosystems is on the rise and, if the required shifts in consumption and production modes do not accelerate, natural systems underpinning economies, societies and cultural heritage in the Mediterranean may undergo irreversible damage. Climate change impacts are exacerbating the vulnerability of ecosystems and communities and compounding economic challenges in the region.

Anchoring sustainability in the Mediterranean has been a recurrent theme in Mediterranean policy forums, but progress remains slow. Making swift progress would involve locating and acting upon leverage points that would fast-track the transition to sustainable consumption and production in key sectors.

The panel will approach these issues from four angles: marine litter; biodiversity and marine protected areas; climate change and the Blue Economy.

  • What policy interventions are needed to activate game-changers in key sectors?
  • How can international cooperation leverage state action to underpin ecological transition in the Mediterranean, including upscaling nature-based solutions?
  • What is the role of governments and stakeholders in inducing the required transformations?
  • What would be the most effective incentives for the private sector to align on sustainability norms in key sectors?
  • How can awareness raising for behavioural change, educational systems, and training programmes underpin the shift to sustainability by equipping the key actors and especially Youth with essential skills?


Moderator: Dr. Xenia Loizidou, Ambassador for the Coast in the Mediterranean for 2019.

Session 1: PERISCOPE - Scanning the Mediterranean Horizon and Beyond

Dr. Thomas Froelicher, IPCC Author, on findings of the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) with emphasis on the Mediterranean region and highlights related to scenarios and impacts of climate change; (presentation)
Mr. Kostas Bakoyannis, Mayor of Athens, on the role of Mediterranean cities in the transition to sustainability and in bolstering resilience to risks linked to climate change in coastal zones;
Mr. Gavin Edwards, Global Coordinator Nature 2020, WWF International, on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, with a focus on biodiversity conservation and the rehabilitation of degraded marine and coastal ecosystems in the Mediterranean region; (presentation)

Session 2: PROPULSION - Entry Points for Action-Oriented and Climate-Resilient Policymaking

Ms. Lilia Hachem Naas, Director of the North Africa Office of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), on findings of recent studies conducted by UNECA on environmental policies and progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda;
Mr. Jacob Duer, President and CEO of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, on contributions of the private sector in tackling the scourge of marine plastic litter, both at the global level and in the Mediterranean; (remarks)
Mr. Augusto Giuseppe Navone, Director of the Marine Protected Area of Tavolara, Sardinia, Italy, on MPAs as spaces of sustainability and prosperity and on transboundary cooperation linking Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMIs) across the Mediterranean.


Biographies of COP21 High-Level Panel Speakers


Dr. Xenia I. Loizidou is a civil coastal engineer (Dipl. Ing., MSc, DIC, PhD). For 30 years she has been a researcher, European and international expert in more than fifty countries in the fields of Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM), coastal erosion control, adaptation and risk management, climate change, decision-support systems, stakeholder involvement practices, blue and green growth entrepreneurship development strategies, policies and action plans and gender issues. Dr. Loizidou believes in the importance of introducing innovation into development processes, non-conventional forms of action and adaptation management processes.


Mr Augusto Navone is the Director of the Tavolara Marine Protected Area. He holds a degree in Biological science from the University of Genoa. The Marine Protected Area of Tavolara - Punta Coda Cavallo was established in the north-east of Sardinia on 12 December 1997 by decree of the Ministry of Environment. It is managed by a consortium among the towns of Olbia, Loiri Porto San Paolo and San Teodoro in Italy.
Mr Gavin Edwards has more than two decades of experience leading conservation and environmental advocacy programmes. Mr. Edwards joined WWF in 2013. He now coordinates WWF’s effort to help secure a New Deal for Nature & People in 2020, with the aim of enlisting the support of governments, businesses, the finance sector and civil society to commit to and implement plans to put nature on a path to recovery within a decade. Mr. Edwards holds an Executive MBA from the Kellogg School of Management in Chicago and Hong Kong University of Science & Technology in China.
Mr Jacob Duer is the inaugural President and CEO of the newly formed Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW).  He joined the AEPW from the United Nations, where he served as a Program Director for the UN Environment Programme. Mr Duer formerly served as the Chief of the Economy Division's Chemicals and Health Branch and worked in the Divisions of Policy Development and Law and Environmental Law and Conventions. He holds a master’s degree in Business Administration and Management.
Mr Kostas Bakoyannis is Mayor of Athens. He previously served as Governor of Central Greece and as Mayor of Karpenissi. He also held positions at the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the European Parliament and with the World Bank. He is the vice-president of the Hellenic Agency for Local Development and Local Government, a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations and a Greek Leadership Council member of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. He holds a PhD in Political Science and International Relations, from the University of Oxford (2019).
Ms. Lilia Hachem Naas is the Director of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Office for North Africa. Before joining UNECA, Ms. Hachem Naas was Chief at the Office for Arab States at the International Trade Centre (ITC) in Geneva. She holds an MBA in International Business Management and a Master of Science in Management Information Systems from University of Maryland College Park in the USA.
Prof. Thomas Frölicher studied environmental sciences at ETH Zurich and received his doctorate in physics from the University of Bern. He then worked as a postdoc at Princeton University in the USA and at ETH Zurich for several years. He has been SNF Assistant Professor in the Climate and Environmental Physics division of the University of Bern since 2017 and leads the ocean modelling group. In 2019 Prof. Frölicher was awarded the Theodor Kocher Prize of the University of Bern. He is the lead author of the IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate.