The Contracting Parties to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean (Barcelona Convention) and its Protocols concluded their 22nd meeting (COP 22, Antalya, Turkey, 7-10 December 2021) with a package of action-oriented decisions to protect the Mediterranean environment and bolster sustainable development. Speaking at the opening of the Ministerial Session on 9 December, Mr Murat Kurum, Minister of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change of the Republic of Turkey underscored the need for broader cooperation to address the serious challenges that the Mediterranean—a meeting point and cradle of remarkable civilizations throughout human history— faces. Addressing participants in the Ministerial Session, Ms. Joyce Msuya, Deputy Executive Director of UNEP, stated that “never before has the Mediterranean needed its human stewards as much as it does today". She commended the commitment of the Contracting Parties, noting that she heard « encouraging messages consistent with our calls to make peace with nature as part of a green recovery in the Mediterranean and beyond ».
On 9 December, H.E. Ms. Emine Erdogan, the First Lady of Turkey, voiced her keen interest in the environment as she attended a roundtable entitled “Women Leadership on Environmental Matters in the Mediterranean Region” organized during COP 22, and took part in the ceremony during which the Spanish city of Málaga received the Istanbul Environment Friendly City Award, an initiative under the Mediterranean Strategy of Sustainable Development.
Branded the “COP for the Mediterranean”, COP 22 delivered a substantial contribution to regional efforts aimed at a green recovery in the Mediterranean. It adopted a groundbreaking decision on the Designation of the Mediterranean Sea, as a whole, as an Emission Control Area for Sulphur Oxides (MED SOx ECA) pursuant to MARPOL Annex VI. The measure is expected to generate significant benefits for human health and for the integrity of ecosystems.
COP 22 marked the 45th anniversary of the Barcelona Convention, a unique regional treaty dedicated to the marine and coastal environment and sustainable development that UNEP/MAP delivered in 1976. UNEP/MAP continues to be the main framework for cooperation on the protection of the marine and coastal environment and sustainable development in the Mediterranean.
Adopted on 9 December, the Antalya Declaration calls for a “Blue Mediterranean: leaving a pollution-free legacy, protecting biodiversity and sustaining climate sustainability”. The declaration constitutes a strong expression of political support to the collective endeavor within the framework of the UNEP/MAP-Barcelona Convention system to achieve a healthy Mediterranean Sea and coast in the context of sustainable development.