Slovenia will host the next meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention – COP23
The 22nd Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean and its Protocols took place in Antalya, Turkey. The most important achievement of the meeting is the designation of the entire Mediterranean Sea as an emission control area for sulphur oxides. In addition to adopting the Medium-Term Strategy of the United Nations Environment Programme, the Mediterranean Action Plan for 2022–2027 and the Post-2020 Strategic Action Programme for the Conservation of Biological Diversity, the parties also designated new marine protected areas and adopted the Antalya Ministerial Declaration.
Strengthening cooperation is vital if we are to achieve a healthy environment and economy, while the environmental characteristics of the Mediterranean must also be respected. Slovenia therefore welcomes the vision for a blue Mediterranean that is clean, plastic-free and innovative, has healthy fish stocks, and that contributes to a sustainable blue economy. This is a framework for enhanced cooperation to ensure a healthy environment and a robust Mediterranean economy while reducing impacts of climate change.
On this occasion, the Slovenian ambassador to Turkey, Primož Šeligo, stated, "Our predecessors demonstrated great wisdom and responsibility 45 years ago. To reduce the adverse effects of pollution of the marine and coastal environment, they adopted the first UNEP/MAP programme and the first Regional Seas Convention, i.e. the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution. This was a major step towards creating a new culture of cooperation in the fight against pollution and adverse environmental impacts, which is aimed at preserving biodiversity and thus improving the state of the climate." He went on to say: "Our generation is committed to ensuring a healthy Mediterranean Sea and coast, which are vital to achieving sustainable development and a better quality of life, and we are working hard to ensure that the vision for a blue Mediterranean reflects our sense of responsibility towards the next generations."
The parties discussed regional sets of measures and plans to prevent pollution and preserve natural areas, which are based on the latest available data on the state of the marine and coastal environment, and related regional measures to promote blue circular economies in the Mediterranean.
In the context of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU, the Mediterranean countries have taken important decisions that will help in ensuring the good state of the Mediterranean Sea and its coast and in preserving ecosystem services, which are important for effective regional development.
The following decisions were made:
- The designation of the entire Mediterranean Sea as an emission control area for sulphur oxides.
- The adoption of a strategy on the development of marine protected areas. In the framework of the EU Strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian Region (EUSAIR), Slovenia has prepared a proposal for designating an international marine protected area in the Adriatic Sea.
- The implementation of the principle of ecological connectivity and the identification of blue and green corridors in the framework of macro-regional cooperation in the Adriatic-Ionian region. The Maritime Spatial Plan of Slovenia was developed in accordance with the above.
Slovenia has been confirmed as the host of COP23. The 23nd Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean and its Protocols will take place in December 2023 on the Slovenian Riviera. In spatial planning and environment, Slovenia has set an example of good practice on coastal and marine resource management – as the first country to implement maritime spatial planning, Slovenia presented the results achieved under its Maritime Spatial Plan, focusing also on other environmental considerations, such as blue corridors at sea, which represent Slovenia's contribution to the content of the EU Council conclusions on a sustainable blue economy that were adopted in May 2021.