White paper

COP 23 · Portorož · Slovenia · Hotel Bernardin
5. – 8. December 2023

Background information on the Slovenian Presidency of the Barcelona Convention

Slovenia will host the 23rd Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean
from 4 to 8 December 2023, where it will take over the two-year Presidency of the Convention for the period 2024-2025.

What is the Barcelona Convention?

The Barcelona Convention is the only regional multilateral legal framework for the protection of the Mediterranean marine and coastal environment. It was originally called the
Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution. It was adopted on 16 February 1976 in Barcelona and entered into force in 1978. Upon its supplementation in
1995, it was renamed the Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea and Coasts, and the supplemented version has been in force since 2004. It was established as a
result of the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP), which was designed by the United Nations to improve the environment in the Mediterranean. It was a huge stride towards establishing a
new culture of cooperation to combat pollution and reduce adverse environmental impacts, preserve biodiversity and improve the climate.

Why does the Mediterranean Sea need a special convention?

The Mediterranean Sea is experiencing a period of “blue gold rush”, caused by a combination of several factors. On the one hand, the development of trade between Europe and Asia is
generating more and more international maritime traffic, while oil and gas reserves are still being exploited on the high seas. On the other hand, with the global growth in tourism
coastal tourism and recreational and tourist boating are increasing. The European Commission’s “Blue Growth” strategy therefore supports the sustainable development of maritime
sectors. Strengthening cooperation between Mediterranean countries is important for a healthy environment and economy, taking into account the environmental specificities of the

Who are the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention?

The Contracting Parties (COP) are Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Montenegro, Egypt, France, Greece, Croatia, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Monaco,
Syria, Slovenia, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey and the European Union.
The Barcelona Convention is under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), with the Secretariat based in Athens, Greece, and Spain as the Depositary of
the Treaty.

Which protocols are contained in the Barcelona Convention?

The Barcelona Convention’s protocols set out ways to protect the sea in different areas. These are the Protocols on the prevention of pollution from ship and aircraft dumping, on the
prevention of accidents and incidents, on the prevention of pollution from land-based sources, on specially protected areas and biodiversity, on the protection against pollution from
offshore exploration and exploitation activities, on hazardous waste and on the integrated management of coastal areas in the Mediterranean.

Slovenia and the Barcelona Convention

As a green and sustainable country, Slovenia ratified the Barcelona Convention and the Mediterranean Action Plan in 1993, just two years after its independence and well over a decade
before it became a full member of the European Union in 2004. Today, it is the country with the highest proportion of Natura 2000 sites in the EU, as much as sixty percent of its
territory is covered by forests.
In November 2005, Slovenia successfully hosted the Barcelona Convention for the first time in Portorož; under the banner The Sea Needs Our Voice, the participants of the 14th
session adopted the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development and presented the European Marine Strategy. A sub-regional agreement between Slovenia, Italy and Croatia
for the prevention of accidents at sea and the remedy of pollution consequences was also signed.

During its Presidency of the Barcelona Convention, Slovenia will encourage the Contracting States and international institutions to strengthen transboundary cooperation and will
strive for the efficient use of financial resources to reduce pressures and impacts on the marine ecosystem, prevent pollution from marine accidents (REMPEC), enhance biodiversity
(SPA RAC) and integrate sustainable coastal management with maritime spatial planning (PAP RAC).

How active is Slovenia in the Barcelona Convention?

Slovenia supports the Blue Mediterranean vision: to provide a healthy coastal and marine environment, a sea free of plastic waste, including healthy fish stocks. By taking an ecosystem
approach to development planning in transboundary river basins, coasts and seas, we are contributing to the promotion of a sustainable blue economy for a better quality of life for
people sharing the sea. Improving water, food, climate and biosecurity can only be achieved through enhanced cooperation between Mediterranean countries.
Slovenia represents an example of good practice in the field of space and environment in relation to coastal and marine resource management. In line with the implementation of the
principle of ecological connectivity and the identification of blue and green corridors in the framework of macro-regional cooperation in the Adriatic-Ionian region (EUSAIR), Slovenia
was one of the first countries in the EU to adopt the Slovenian Maritime Spatial Plan (MSP Slovenia).

Why do the Contracting Parties meet every two years?

The Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols is organised every second year by one of the countries Parties to the Convention. The purpose of
the Meeting is to review the implementation of the Convention and to set the programme of work and priorities of the Contracting Parties for the next biennium. Slovenia will host the
23rd Meeting (COP 23) in December 2023 and will take over the two-year Presidency for the period 2024-2025.
The last 22nd Meeting of the Parties to the Barcelona Convention (COP22) was hosted by Turkey during the Slovenian Presidency of the EU Council (December 2021).
The next meeting, COP24, will be hosted by Egypt in 2025.

Thematic starting points for the Slovenian Presidency

The Presidency slogan For a Green Mediterranean: from plans to action emphasises the transition towards the implementation of the decisions taken to achieve sustainable
development in the Mediterranean and to make the green transition a reality. As a Contracting Party, Slovenia aims to promote an ecosystem approach to development planning by
reinforcing the importance of blue and green corridors in spatial planning and management for the conservation of coastal and marine biodiversity and ecosystem services.
The main tasks of the Slovenian Presidency will be related to marine protected areas, integrated coastal zone management and maritime spatial planning, updates of emergency plans
and increasing resilience to climate change. There are too many programmes, which, unfortunately, are not being implemented in practice, even though they are well placed to achieve
the sustainable development of the Mediterranean and the protection of the sea. Cooperation between countries would strengthen the implementation of EU policies at
Mediterranean level (blue economy, creation of marine protected areas, etc.) and international commitments (Convention on Biodiversity).

Organisational information on the Meeting in Slovenia

Slovenia will host the 23rd Meeting of the Parties to the Barcelona Convention from 5 to 8 December 2023 in Portorož. A Meeting of the members of the Convention’s Bureau will take
place the day before, on 4 December.
On this occasion, Slovenia will take over the two-year Presidency of the Convention for the period 2024-2025. The Meeting is divided into morning and afternoon sessions for agenda
items and negotiations, with side events scheduled during the lunch break and after the formal part in the afternoon.

More information: Department for EU and international policies of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Spatial Planning (seumz.mnvp@gov.si)
The Meeting website cop23-slovenia.com, set up in October 2023, will allow the participants to register and all interested parties to access all information.