Renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough called the Mediterranean Sea “the first Eden.” It occupies a special place in human history as the nexus of his three continents. It was an early highway of trade and cultural exchange.
It is also a region, like the rest of the world, facing the triple global crisis of biodiversity loss, pollution and climate change.
For 50 years, the Regional Seas Program has brought together diverse partners to protect the common waters between them. At the forefront of this is the Barcelona Convention, the Mediterranean Action Plan.
This strong legal foundation is consistently consistent with international law and is the first of 18 such treaties and programs, 14 of which were established under the leadership of UNEP.
This is a shining example of how local governance mechanisms can foster collective action to protect the environment.
The convention is as active as ever. Recent success stories include regional plans for marine litter management in the Mediterranean; It is the world’s first legally binding framework and serves as a model for other regions, especially in light of the long-awaited global treaty on plastic pollution.
Large new marine protected areas have recently been created by Algeria, Libya and Albania.
And last year, the International Maritime Organization signed an agreement to significantly reduce air pollution from shipping across the Mediterranean. We call on States Parties to this Convention to redouble their efforts to achieve the 2050 goal of net-zero shipping emissions.
I am pleased that the Barcelona Convention and Mediterranean Action Plan stakeholders are working strongly towards the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. I am encouraged by the action plan to ensure that at least 30 percent of coastal and marine areas are effectively protected and managed by 2030.
Recently, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biodiversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction was unanimously adopted and is currently in the process of ratification. The importance of this Convention and MAP in terms of its entry into force cannot be overstated.
But my colleagues, we need to do more.
In the UNEP report: Current status of the Mediterranean environment and development “Unless urgent and decisive action is taken to halt current trends, environmental degradation could have serious and lasting impacts on human health and livelihoods in the region,” it warns. .
We call on Parties to the Convention to halt the degradation of marine and coastal biodiversity by effectively implementing the Mediterranean region’s unique post-2020 biodiversity framework.
We advocate the implementation at the regional level of the global framework on chemicals adopted at the 5th International Conference on Chemicals Management in September this year.
UNEP remains steadfast as a solid partner in the pursuit of sustainable ocean governance. We are dedicated to supporting our member countries in achieving common goals for people and the planet. We urge all stakeholders – political parties, governments and society at large – to raise ambition and accelerate action at global, regional and national levels.
Solutions are within reach. We must reduce threats to biodiversity. We must meet people’s needs sustainably and equitably. And we must stop subsidizing harmful industries and activities.
Capitalize on this global momentum ahead of the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya next February and the UN Ocean Conference in Nice, France in 2025. And strengthen our commitment to preserving this Mediterranean and all our precious oceans for present and future generations.