20th Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention – Dec 17, 2017

The Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols opened their twentieth ordinary meeting (COP 20) on 17 December 2017, during which they discussed the progress achieved in the implementation of the programme of work for the 2016-2017 biennium and make policy decisions on activities to enhance environmental protection and sustainable development in the Mediterranean.

The meeting, which took place in Tirana from 17 to 20 December 2017, was convened by the UN Environment / Coordinating Unit for the Mediterranean Action Plan and was hosted by the Government of Albania. The main theme of the meeting was “Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with focus on Sustainable Development Goal 14: Pollution and Biodiversity”. This was also the topic of discussion during the high-level session held on 19 December, which led to the adoption of the Tirana Declaration. 

The meeting was opened by Ms. Christina Baritaki, Secretary General of the Ministry of Environment and Energy of Greece and President of the Bureau of the Contracting Parties for the 2016-2017 biennium. H.E. Ms Ornela Cuci, Deputy Minister of Environment of Albania, delivered the welcoming address. 

On behalf of Mr. Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme which acts as Secretariat to the Barcelona Convention, Ms Mette Wilkie, Director of the Ecosystems Division also welcomed the meeting participants and Observers. 

The meeting elected the members Bureau of the Contracting Parties which will serve for the 2018-2019 biennium: Albania (President), Italy, Cyprus, and Tunisia (Vice-presidents), and Montenegro (Rapporteur). 

Among the other Decisions, COP 20 adopted the Decision IG.23/11 related to the Mediterranean Guide on Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Responding to Marine Pollution Incidents prepared by REMPEC and which was the result of a wide consultation process, which included the Technical Regional Workshop on Cooperation Arrangements in the Field of Preparedness for and Response to Oil and HNS Spills (MEDEXPOL 2016) held in Malta from 14 to 15 December 2016 and the Twelfth Meeting of the Focal Points of the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea, which was convened in Malta, from 23 to 25 May 2017. The process involved all REMPEC official OPRC Focal Points as well as relevant United Nations Organizations, other governmental and non-governmental organizations, the industry and international professional organizations and associations. 

During COP 20, Mr Guillaume Poirier (Junior Programme Officer – VIS at REMPEC) who is a member of the MAP Sustainable Operations Task Force held a stand dedicated to this activity. He presented the progresses of the Regional Activity Centres (RAC) and the way forward regarding the ISO 20121. A quiz was also proposed in order to heighten awareness on Sustainable Operations. 

Furthermore, a photo exhibition entitled “Deep colors of the Mediterranean sea”, organized by the Information and Communication Regional Activity Centre of the Mediterranean Action Plan (Info-RAC) was held for the duration of the meeting.