Barcelona Convention Parties Call for a Blue Economy to Safeguard the Mediterranean

UNEP10 February 2012: The 17th Ordinary Meeting of the Contracting Parties (COP 17) to the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean and its Protocols concluded with the adoption of the Paris Declaration, which calls for a “blue” economy to safeguard and promote a clean, healthy, and productive Mediterranean environment.

COP 17 took place in Paris, France, from 8-10 February 2012. According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Paris Declaration calls for a strategic policy framework for “blue” economy, a version of the Green Economy applying to seas and oceans, to be adopted at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) in June 2012.

Addressing the conference, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner underlined the role played by oceans in many countries' economic and social development, warning that they are being degraded through unsustainable use, which threatens the ecosystem services they provide, such as food security and climate regulations. He called for “management decisions and investments” that take into account the wellbeing of the oceans.

In the Paris Declaration, the Contracting Parties also: reaffirm their political commitment to the sustainable development of the Mediterranean Sea and its coastal zones through an ecosystem approach to the management of human activities; agree to develop a coherent, well-managed network of marine protected areas in the Mediterranean, aiming for 10% of marine protected areas (MPAs) by 2020; decide to intensify their efforts to curb marine pollution from land-based sources, by adopting legally binding measures; adopt the action plan for the implementation of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Protocol, and encourage all Contracting Parties to ratify it; agree to work to protect the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction through the implementation of existing instruments and through the development of a multilateral agreement under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); and support the preparation by 2014 of a report on the state of the marine environment. UNEP hosts the Coordinating Unit for the Mediterranean Action Plan of the Barcelona Convention. [UNEP Press Release] [UN Press Release]