21st COP Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean and its Protocols
The 21st Conference of 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 took place on 02-05 December 2019 in Naples.
Ministers and senior officials representing 21 Mediterranean States and the European Union attended COP21, and adopted a set of decisions pertaining to marine litter, the blue economy, biodiversity and marine protected areas, and climate change.
Representing only 1% of the world’s ocean surface, the Mediterranean hosts up to 18% of the world’s known marine species and features one of the highest concentrations of marine litter mostly composed of plastics: more than 100,000 microplastic items/km2, and up to 64 million particles/km2 of floating litter. Arrivals of tourists sextupled in the Mediterranean region since 1970, reaching 337 million in 20171.
The findings of a flagship UNEP/MAP Report on the State of the Environment and Development (SoED) to be released in 2020 identifies key sectors in the region as drivers of environmental degradation.
As a partner to the United Nations Environmental Programme – Mediterranean Action Plan, MEDASSET attended the COP21 meeting presenting critical issues for marine biodiversity such as sea turtle habitats’ degradation, fisheries interaction, tourism impact, marine litter and pollution, climate change, maritime traffic impact and marine protected areas (MPAs) challenges.
Also, MEDASSET expressed its deep concern for the identification of an area of 60,000 km2 of the Mediterranean (from the Peloponnese to Crete) for oil and gas exploration and exploitation. Such an area includes a very large number of well known nesting beaches of Caretta caretta and, as a result, such activities could represent a very serious threat for the long-term survival of the sea turtle in the Mediterranean. MEDASSET has recalled that such activities should be performed far away from specially protected areas and that, as a result, a decision should be made to reconsider the launching of the activity in that area.