The meeting of the Mediterranean Action Plan focal points was opened in Athens, Greece, on 13 October 2015, in the presence of representatives from 21 Mediterranean countries, the European Union, donors and partners. The objectives of the meeting are to review the progress achieved during the 2014-2015 biennium in the implementation of the programme of work and activities approved by COP 18 (Istanbul, Turkey, December 2013). Participants are expected to approve a number of thematic draft decisions for submission to COP 19, aiming at strengthening the implementation of the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols, as well as the proposed biannual Programme of Work and Budget 2016-2017 prepared by the Secretariat.
Welcoming the participants, the Hellenic Alternate Minister of Environment Mr. Yiannis Tsironis opened the meeting and said: “For the past 40 years, the Barcelona Convention and UNEP/MAP have been providing a framework for regional cooperation that promotes the protection of the natural and built environment of the Mediterranean region and has served as a model for other regions of the world. At this crucial period for many countries of the Mediterranean, having to deal with a number of economic, social and political challenges, the Barcelona Convention will continue to act as an effective framework for regional cooperation, supporting peace and stability in our region”.
Thanking Greece for hosting the meeting, the President of the Bureau, Mr. Mehmet Birpinar highlighted the continuous commitment of the countries to the Barcelona Convention and said: “the Mediterranean continues to be a model for the world in terms of friendship and cooperation. We have made success when so many things were going wrong in some parts of the world. We succeeded together with our stakeholders.”
Presenting the progress of work during the last biennium, the UNEP/MAP Coordinator, Mr. Gaetano Leone, highlighted the achievements and challenges encountered by the region saying: “Conditions around the Mediterranean region and ecosystems continue to be degraded. The pressures are heavy on such limited and vulnerable resources, coastal zones and the marine environment. At a time when the situation is reason for deep concern, the opportunities for impact are still abundant and attainable”.
Recalling the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals recently adopted in New York, he added “These are crucial in inspiring us to define our strategies for the Mediterranean. Frameworks such as the MAP ensure the translation of global ambitions and goals of sustainable development into concrete actions at national level”.
The meeting of the MAP Focal Points is expected to also review and transmit to COP 19 for its consideration and possible adoption a number of strategic and programmatic documents such as MSSD, UNEP/MAP mid-term Strategy 2016-2021, and Action Plans.