Plan Bleu's participation at several meetings organized by the Union for the Mediterranean

Plan Bleu participated at several meetings organized by the Union for the Mediterranean on 13-16 March 2017, in Barcelona, Spain.

First, on 13-14 March, the Mediterranean Expert Network on Climate and Environmental Change (MedECC) organized a meeting of its Steering Committee, in which Plan Bleu participated as member (Julien Le Tellier). In addition, on 13 March afternoon, MedECC presented its initiatives and activities to UfM Member States representatives. On behalf of UNEP/MAP-Barcelona Convention Secretariat, Plan Bleu delivered a presentation on the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development (MCSD) and the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development 2016-2025 (MSSD 2016-2025).

Secondly, on 14-15 March, the first meeting of the UfM Working Group on Environment and Climate Change (WGECC) presented and assessed the progress made in the implementation of the UfM Ministerial Declaration on Environment and Climate Change (April 2014, Athens, Greece).

Thirdly, on 16 March, following recommendations provided by the working group the day before, the meeting of the UfM Climate Change Expert Group (CCEG) endorsed new operational modalities and work program.

Christian Averous, Plan Bleu Deputy President, participated to those meetings on 14-16 March, in which UN Environment/MAP system was also represented by the Coordinating Unit and Regional Activity Centres (SCP/RAC, SPA/RAC).

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Plan Bleu Position Note:

It is fundamentally important that the role of the UN Environment/MAP-Barcelona Convention, as the only legally-binding set of instruments for addressing common issues and challenges of environmental degradation and protecting marine and coastal ecosystems of the Mediterranean Sea, is fully recognized as contributing very efficiently, directly and indirectly, to the implementation of the UfM 2014-Ministerial Declaration on Environment and Climate Change. Indeed, the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP), as the first Regional Seas Programme under UN Environment auspices, represents a relevant and efficient framework for regional cooperation. It is the unique institutional cooperation and environmental governance framework gathering the 21 Mediterranean countries and the European Union (EU), which are the Contracting Parties of the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean (Barcelona Convention). After 40 years of experiences in terms of regional environmental cooperation, the MAP system is still ambitious and relevant towards a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable Mediterranean region, in which societies enjoy a high quality of life within healthy marine and coastal ecosystems.

The most recent Conference of the Parties of the Barcelona Convention (COP19, Athens, Greece, February 2016) confirmed that the MAP system (i.e. Coordinating Unit in Athens and components located in several Mediterranean countries, and Plan Bleu/RAC among them, Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development - MCSD, and MAP partners…) continues to be a very relevant and effective regional instrument to implement sustainable development policies into concrete action on priorities agreed at regional level. A number of strategic documents were delivered, including the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development 2016-2025 (MSSD 2016-2025) to translate the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs at regional, sub-regional and national levels; Sustainable Consumption and Production Regional Action Plan; Mediterranean Offshore Action Plan; Regional Strategy for Prevention of and Response to Marine Pollution from Ships 2016-2021; and, last but not least, Regional Climate Change Adaptation Framework for the Mediterranean Marine and Coastal Areas.

Regarding environmental issues in the Mediterranean, generally speaking, there should be complementary multi-lateral dialogues and partnerships between MAP and UfM, the first one building relevant policies with Ministries of the Environment, the second one helping to deliver them with concrete actions and projects (involving in priority Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Finance).

On the other hand, as far MedECC is concerned for building a Science Policy Interface on climate and environmental change in the Mediterranean, Plan Bleu is still convinced that this Mediterranean expert network on climate and environmental change has to work in two complementary directions, namely:
1/ Publishing improved assessments and comprehensive synthesis of global change knowledge in the Mediterranean region;
2/ Building a relevant regional science-policy interface on climate and environmental change in the Mediterranean.

MedECC represents opportunities for the implementation of one of the flagship initiatives of the MSSD 2016-2025. The flagship initiative for the Objective 4 (Addressing climate change as a priority issue for the Mediterranean) recommends “the establishment of a regional science-policy interface mechanism, including the social and behavioural sciences, endorsed by all the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention, with a view to preparing consolidated regional scientific assessments and guidance on climate change trends, impacts and adaptation and mitigation options”.

The MedECC network is benefiting from a growing support from several Mediterranean countries (France, Monaco, Morocco, Tunisia), and regional organisations. It would gain even more visibility with clear (and pedagogic) communication to policy bodies.

Plan Bleu relies especially on MedECC to support the SoED 2019 (State of the Environment and Development) and MED2050 (new prospective study / foresight analysis) forthcoming publications.

18 months after its creation, the MedECC initiative succeeded in building and mobilizing a network of scientific experts and in gaining political recognition from Mediterranean countries and IGOs – although these two components remain to be consolidated. The challenge is now to institutionalize the network and to strengthen stakeholder dialogue (consultations, exchanges, for which Plan Bleu should have an active role, since it supports the secretariat of the MCSD, once the resources for doing so will be identified), by confirming governance and publishing the first report by the end of 2018. The achievement of these general objectives depends on obtaining funding from several sources.