MAP at the UN Ocean Conference: Partnering for the implementation of SDG 14 in the Mediterranean

Approximately 4,000 delegates attended the five-day UN Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, convened in New York from 5 to 9 June 2017.

The reversal of the decline of the ocean’s health will begin thanks to a set of measures that have been unanimously agreed  by the 193 Member States of the United Nations. 

The Ocean Conference has raised global consciousness of ocean problems ranging from marine pollution to illegal and over fishing, from ocean acidification to lack of high seas governance. By including all stakeholders in the discussions, the Conference produced a comprehensive and actionable range of solutions. The outcome document, together with more than 1,300 commitments to action, marks a breakthrough in the global approach to the management and conservation of the ocean.

As one of the most advanced legal regimes worldwide for the protection of the marine and coastal environment, the Mediterranean Action Plan/Barcelona Convention has an ambitious sustainable development dimension. Through its implementation the Contracting Parties demonstrate their commitment to a healthy Mediterranean marine and coastal environment.

In the framework of the implementation of SDG 14 in the Mediterranean, the UN Environment/MAP Secretariat has participated in the preparatory process by providing regional inputs reflected in the Partnership Dialogues Concept Papers and ensured, in consultation with Contracting Parties and partners, that the Mediterranean example featured highly in the discussions during the Conference.

The activities underway in the Mediterranean region were presented through the co-organization of three side-events together with key partners.

The following Mediterranean initiatives contributing to the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 were registered as “Voluntary Commitments” by the Secretariat:

  • #OceanAction20412  “Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations Environment Programme / Mediterranean Action Plan-Barcelona Convention Secretariat and FAO General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean”
  • #OceanAction20344 “Towards an ecologically representative and efficiently managed network of Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas”
  • #OceanAction20339 “Mediterranean implementation of the Ecosystem Approach, in coherence with the EU MSFD”
  • #OceanAction19949 “Mediterranean Sea Programme (MedProgramme): Enhancing Environmental Security”
  • #OceanAction19914 “Implementation of the UN Environment/MAP Regional Plan on Marine Litter Management in the Mediterranean”
  • #OceanAction19839 “Implementation of the Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS) principles and practices in the ENP South region - ENI SEIS II South Support Mechanism”

Additional Voluntary Commitments were submitted by Contracting Parties jointly or with inputs from the UN Environment/Mediterranean Action Plan-Barcelona Convention Secretariat.


Overview of Side Events


Implementation of the ecosystem approach at the regional level for the coordinated achievement of the targets of SDG14

Co-organizers: European Commission, UN Environment/MAP-Barcelona Convention Secretariat and General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean

The speakers highlighted the following key points:

  1. Regional Ocean Governance is key for the achievement of SDG14 targets;
  2. Ongoing cooperation between GFCM and UN Environment/MAP has specifically showcased the importance of cooperation of Regional Sea Commissions and Regional Fisheries Management Organizations in relation to a coordinated approach to implement the SDGs and specifically the ecosystem approach;
  3. Regional cooperation and governance is also relevant to international processes, which should build on and not multiply existing regional structures, co-operations, which aim to implement the SDGs and SDG14 specific targets;
  4. The challenges ahead are about how to strengthen regional governance to implement SDGs and SDG14 and to find the best way of implementation, integration and coherence of environment and fisheries policy and links with many other sectors such as energy, agriculture, transport, industry, tourism, and in general regional development and investing for the future (sustainable consumption and production-consumption, innovation in technologies, including financial tools; improving the knowledge base are thus of key importance here);
  5. Strengthened cooperation of regional ocean governance bodies with a focus on strengthening implementation, in line with common objectives, is not only an option but a necessity.


Side event on a multi-stakeholders governance for tackling marine litter in the Mediterranean sea

Co-organizers: Legambiente Onlus, UN Environment/MAP-Barcelona Convention Secretariat, Italian Ministry of Environment, UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN-Mediterranean), European Environment Agency, Union for the Mediterranean Secretariat (UfMS), European Bioplastics, Environmental Alliance for the Mediterranean, Kyoto Club

Summary: The event showcased the Mediterranean answer to the global problem of marine litter and as such share experience on how different key regional stakeholders in their various capacities can work together in a coordinated manner to address marine litter management.

It focused on the urgent need to act at a regional level and as such on the implementation needs of the Regional Plan on Marine Litter Management in the Mediterranean, which is the first legally binding regional instrument, aiming to minimize marine litter presence and its impacts.

It built on Article 18 of this Regional Plan, which specifies the necessity of cooperation among regional partners and actors. As such it highlighted that from policy makers to plastic industry, from research to the associations of citizens, building on regional legal frameworks and political initiatives, all stakeholders have a role to play in prevention, monitoring and clean-up of marine litter.

UN Environment/MAP highlighted that in line with the Marine Litter Regional Plan, collective responses are absolutely necessary; synergy and cooperation are key elements, with a need for a higher effectiveness and better coordination of the collective responses to marine litter challenges. It also showcased the experience of the Regional Cooperation Platform on Marine Litter, which is a regional platform, aiming to ensure contribution of all regional partners and actors to the implementation of the Marine Litter Regional Plan.


Side event on Regional MPA networks in action

Co-organizers: MedPAN, CaMPAM, RAMPAO, NAMPAN, WIOMSA, HELCOM, UN Environment / MAP-Barcelona Convention Secretariat and the French Biodiversity Agency

Summary: The speakers of the various regional MPA networks and Regional Seas highlighted the important role of MPAs. The key message was that regional human networks of MPA managers are successful when contributing to the dissemination of knowledge and best management practices using effective communication and training tools.

Exchanges of managers with similar issues but different local context generate creativity, problem solving and resource sharing. MPA networks develop (and should, to be sustainable) also strong collaborations with Regional Seas Conventions and create long-term partnerships.
They all also agreed that, working toward the shared goal of effective MPAs, regional MPA networks also have a great potential to overcome the new marine conservation challenges and for teaming up to keep the global and regional MPA agendas moving forward.   
In addition, UN Environment/MAP also highlighted the importance of the exchange of best practices on MPAs management between Regional Seas, as such the key importance of the UN Environment Regional Seas Programme. It also stressed the need for coordination between regional players on area based management measures (between Regional Sea Conventions and Regional Fisheries Management Organizations) and, as such showcased the Mediterranean example, based on the Memorandum of Understanding between UN Environment/MAP and the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean.

Date of Article: 
Monday, June 12, 2017