On 21-23 January 2020 the Mediterranean Action Plan of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP/MAP) joined forces with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO), the Italian Oceanographic Commission, the European Commission and the Mediterranean Science Commission to hold a workshop dedicated to the Mediterranean Sea and Coast in the context of preparations for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).
Building on the outcomes of the first global planning meeting held from 13 -15 May 2019 in Copenhagen, Denmark, the workshop entitled “The Mediterranean Sea We Need for the Future We Want" took place in the IOC-UNESCO office premises in Venice, Italy.
By providing a forum to engage stakeholders and to identify partnerships and concrete steps to meet the Decade's objectives, the workshop was instrumental in articulating the Mediterranean perspective in line with the regional approach that UNEP/MAP – one of the main actors in the field of ocean science in the Mediterranean region – advocates.
“Bearing in mind the key findings of the Global Ocean Science Report, the preparation of the Decade’s Implementation Plan offers an opportunity to establish new cooperation and partnership modalities to facilitate access to data, equipment and know-how transfer, ” the UNEP/MAP – Barcelona Convention Secretariat Coordinator Gaetano Leone said at the opening of the workshop.
In his statement, Mr. Leone outlined ideas and partnership activities that the UNEP/MAP delegation, including representatives of MEDPOL, SPA/RAC, Plan Bleu, PAPA/RAC and INFO /RAC Regional Activity Centres, put forward in in the workshop’s six working groups covering the societal outcomes of the UN Ocean Decade*. The Coordinator also noted the participation of representatives of Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention -- both from policy and science communities -- whom UNEP/MAP invited to the workshop.
In their deliberations, participants focused on a set of Mediterranean thematic priorities including bridging knowledge and technology gaps to unlock the Mediterranean Sea potential; consolidating the Mediterranean position as a space for innovation, environmental protection and sustainable development; enhancing cooperation opportunities with a focus on capacity-development and harnessing effective leadership for sound environmental governance.
Participants also addressed the implementation of the Integrated Monitoring and Assessment Programme (IMAP), which was adopted in 2016 by the Contracting Parities to the Barcelona Convention in an endeavor to produce a quantitative integrated analysis of the state of the marine and coastal environment based on common regional indicators, targets and Good Environmental Status descriptions.
“The Decade needs to go beyond scientific capacity development, by creating a new awareness at the policy and civil society level, identifying alternative funding and increasing international collaboration. The Decade must also be a means to harvest innovative ideas towards better understanding of the whole ocean system. Therefore, the effective use of unprecedented achievements in science and technology, is indispensable to ensure that growing development demands and a healthy ocean co-exist in harmony,” Mr Leone noted.
The UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development was proclaimed by the General Assembly to pursue two overarching goals: to generate the scientific knowledge and underpinning infrastructure and partnerships needed for sustainable development of the ocean, and to provide ocean science, data and information to inform policies for a well- functioning ocean in support of all Sustainable Development Goals of 2030 Agenda.
Sustainability was high on the agenda of the 21st Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols (COP 21). The Contracting Parties adopted the Naples Ministerial Declaration calling for bold action to protect Mediterranean ecosystems, including through the enhancement of a regional science-policy interface enabling the articulation of evidence-based sustainable development policies.
* Societal outcomes of the UN Ocean Decade