Around 400 representatives of Mediterranean countries have gathered in Portorož, at the 23rd meeting of member parties of the Barcelona Convention – Conference for Mediterranean Countries (COP 23 – Contracting parties) and over half of them are high-ranking representatives of 21 Mediterranean countries. The opening speech was given by State Secretary Maša Kociper, who welcomed the gathered delegates on behalf of Slovenia, as the new country of presidency over the Convention.
State Secretary Maša Kociper emphasised that the same topics that are currently being discussed by worldwide representatives at the Climate Conference in Dubai, will be discussed here, in Portorož, with a focus on our Mediterranean countries – and that both a global and intergenerational view of the situation is required. At the same time, she stressed the significance of the Portorož ministerial declaration, which will be adopted by the Contracting Parties at this meeting to advocate measures for a faster green transition as well as for investments in a water-, climate-, nutrition- and energy-friendly future. “We are convinced that the Ministers of the Member Parties of the Convention will do their utmost to ensure that the decisions written in the declaration will flow into concrete actions. One way to ensure this is through the professional public’s involvement in the preparation process.”
Slovenia, which is hosting this meeting and assuming the two-year presidency, highlights the transition to actions with our selected slogan “Green transition in the Mediterranean: from decisions to actions”; to achieve sustainable development of the Mediterranean and make a green transition in practice. As Maša Kociper pointed out, in order to ensure the sustainable future of the Mediterranean, we must truly be aware of the importance of collaboration and cooperation between organizations. “If we want to avoid a devastating storm and keep on sailing with mild winds of sustainable development and green transition, we must certainly go from decisions to actions, like our slogan – and young generations – require us to do. “
At the beginning of the meeting, the gathered delegates were addressed by Fatma Varank, Deputy Minister of the Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change of Turkey, and President of the Barcelona Convention Presidency, Elizabeth Marum Mrema, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Programme for the Environment (English United Nations Environment – UNEP) and Tatjana Hema, Coordinator of the Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP). Particular emphasis was placed on the importance of maintaining biodiversity in the Mediterranean through measures to combat pollution and climate change, which the whole world is facing.
Active participants at the conference unfolding in Portorož until Friday, 8 December 2023, include not only high-ranking representatives of the Barcelona Convention contracting parties but also representatives of professional and scientific institutions, NGOs and representatives of the youth. In addition to the Contracting Parties’ meeting and the Ministerial Meeting, which is set to take place on Thursday, 7 December 2023, there are also various side events scheduled every day.
Various initiatives and proposals for active participation of all three regions were presented at one of today’s side events on cross-border cooperation with a source-to-sea approach (the Danube River, the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea) titled Best Practices of Cooperation. The central theme – just like the presidency’s slogan – involves a shift from decisions to actions. They highlighted the urgency of monitoring data exchanges, the prevention and disposal of marine pollution, and the common goal of reducing the consequences of climate change in all three regions. Two key campaigns pointed out in the debate involve: the need to implement an Early Warning System to minimize the risk of water pollution for chemical and other hazardous substances, and to implement a common regional plan for cross-border cooperation between countries in case of major incidents such as hazardous materials spills, as these also reach the marine environment.
As a Contracting Party, Slovenia strives to take an ecosystem approach in development planning by enhancing the significance of blue and green corridors in spatial planning and management to ensure the conservation of coastal and marine biodiversity and ecosystem services.
The main tasks of Slovenia’s Presidency will be related to the management of areas of land, coast and sea, including contemporary prevention and control measures in the event of pollution and other ecological incidents. Special attention will be placed on measures to reduce the negative effects of climate change and to improve biodiversity.
Slovenia is taking over the presidency from Turkey and will hand it over to Egypt after the two-year term.