MEPIELAN Centre, as a member of Steering Committee of the MCSD and represented by its Director, Professor Evangelos Raftopoulos, participated in the 22nd Meeting of the MCSD Steering Committee held held on 15 and 16 December 2020 through teleconference.
At the opening of the Meeting, Mr. Gaetano Leone, Coordinator, UNEP/MAP – Barcelona Convention Secretariat, presented the meeting “as an important milestone to review the progress made in the last six months and the perspectives for the work of the MCSD and its Steering Committee, relying on guidance and advice from the Committee in view of preparing the 19th Meeting of the MCSD”. He insisted on the importance of this biennium “to achieve the expected outcomes of the UNEP/MAP Medium-Term Strategy (MTS) 2016-2021 and to prepare the MTS 2022-2027”, and he indicated that “the biennium 2020-2021 is an important juncture in the global agenda on the Environment and Sustainable Development, marking “the entry in the last decade for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and delivering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.
Discussing the work of the MCSD and MSSD implementation and reviewing its progress, the Members of the MCSD Steering Committee provided comments and reported on their own activities that contributed to the implementation and follow-up of the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development (MSSD). In this context, MEPIELAN reported on the progress done in launching MSSD Flagship Initiatives under Objective 6 “Governance”, including the signature with MIO/ECSDE (UNEP/MAP Partner) a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the implementation of the MSSD Flagship Initiative to encourage the accession to the Aarhus Convention. In the framework of this MoU, a specific performative agreement has been finalized in view of implementing the MoU activity entitled “Mediterranean Accession Agenda to the Aarhus Convention”. MEPIELAN also referred to the regular publication of its e-Bulletin, which together with the MEPIELAN’s website1 provides a credible knowledge-sharing and widely-read platform, showcasing the multilevel development of the UNEP/MAP – Barcelona Convention system and contributing to the dissemination and visibility of its important and pioneering work.
Embarking on specific issues, the MCSD Steering Committee discussed the Mid-Term Evaluation of the MSSD stressed “the progress in the participatory and indicator-based mid-term evaluations of the MSSD and of the SCP Regional Action Plan”, and invited the Secretariat “to launch a reflection on how the outputs of the mid-term evaluations can feed the preparation of the UNEP/MAP Medium-Term Strategy (MTS) 2022-2027, encouraging interlinkages and cross-fertilization between those important regional processes”.
In the discussion of the World Environment Situation Room (WESR) and the Indicator Reporting Information System for Sustainable Development Goals (IRIS for SDGs) introduced by invited representatives of the UNEP Science Division, MEPIELAN indicated the necessity of cooperation between the UNEP Science and Law Divisions for IRIS and highlighted the importance of the participatory production of knowledge (e.g. citizen science) for the follow-up of policy and legal implementation of SDG 17 “Partnerships for the goals”, mentioning in particular SDG indicator 17.14.1 “Number of countries with mechanisms in place to enhance policy coherence of sustainable development” for which UNEP is the custodian agency and works in close cooperation with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Regarding the preparation of the Mediterranean Sustainability Dashboard and Integration of Sustainable Consumption and Production Indicators, presented by the Secretariat (Blue Plan and SCR/RAC), MEPIELAN stated that to monitor COVID-19 impacts, and to follow relationships between human health and the state of the environment, it is important to consider legal indicators related to illegal wildlife trade and land-use change, e.g. deforestation, agricultural expansion, habitat fragmentation, and interactions between wildlife and human health in which land-use change is a key driver of emerging zoonotic deseases. Plan Bleu replied that a literature review has been engaged, but it is still difficult at this stage to monitor those issues due to the lack of data. The possibility to include new indicators in the dashboard will be explored during the preparation of the Programme of Work for 2022-2023. The Steering Committee requested the Secretariat “to update and consult regularly the Committee on the activities undertaken and the results achieved on the Mediterranean Sustainability Dashboard and the integration of SCP indicators”, as well on the “possibly complementing the dashboard with indicators related to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including relevant legal indicators”.
Considering the UNEP/MAP Strategic Response to the COVID-19 crisis in the Mediterranean and the document prepared and presented by the Secretariat entitled “The Mediterranean Action Plan’s strategic response to COVID-19: a blueprint for action”, MEPIELAN, in the ensuing discussion, stated that blocks 1 and 2 of this useful document, namely “the medical and humanitarian emergency phase” and “a transformational change for nature and people” could be merged towards a more relational, integrated approach between them, strengthening interlinkages between relevant Protocols of the Barcelona Convention3 and global Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), international declarative instruments and programmes, and relevant international organizations (e.g. WHO, IMO, FAO and GFCM). In addition, regarding participatory environmental governance, the UNEP/MAP response to the COVID-19 crisis may represent an opportunity to advancing the “public trust approach” principles, in line with relevant MSSD Flagship Initiatives under Objective 6 “Governance”, in view of building capacity of the Contracting Parties and bridging the cooperation gap in that innovative domain. MEPIELAN also stressed the scientific deficit on transmission of zoonotic diseases and the need to pay attention to data on the inter-specific transmission of zoonosis. Referring to block 4, MEPIELAN emphasized the importance of the role of the Compliance Committee in the post COVID-19 governance period and the need for its institutional strengthening, including improvement in public engagement. Further, MEPIELAN “expressed its willingness to contribute to those federative efforts, including through the organization of webinars to enrich and further focus on the UNEP/MAP strategic directions to respond to the COVID-19 crisis”. In its Conclusions, the MCSD Steering Committee “committed to support the Secretariat in implementing this “blueprint for action”, encouraging to further establish interlinkages between the four building blocks and showcase the common elements of their respective components, as well as to further support the implementation of existing policy frameworks such as the 2030 Agenda and SDGs, the MSSD and Protocols of the Barcelona Convention in an integrated manner, promoting nature-based solutions and strengthening cooperative schemes and participatory approaches”.
Finally, and in regard to the MCSD Membership, the Secretariat, referring to the MCSD Constitutive Documents, stated that nine MCSD Members have to be considered for replacement after having completed three consecutive mandate of two years, thanked them for their contribution, and mentioned the six letters of expression of interest received from organizations and individuals to officially become MCSD Members at COP 22 in December 2021”. Considering the importance of maintaining Parliamentarians’ representatives within the MCSD, as well as the principle of rotation through a limited number of mandates for all members of the Commission, MEPIELAN highlighted the need to update the MCSD Constitutive Documents and enlarge the category of the Parliamentarians, considering that such changes in the rules would allow more flexibility and more consistency. The MCSD Steering Committee thanked the outgoing MCSD Members for their contribution to the work of the Commission, which included The Mediterranean Programme for International Environmental Law and Negotiation / MEPIELAN (representing the Scientific Community).
 MCSD Steering Committee, Report of the 22nd Meeting, Videoconference, 15-16 Decemeber 2020, UNHEP/MED WG.483/6, paras.4, 6, 8, p. 1.
 Ibid. para.17, p. 3.
 Ibid., Conclusions ii & iii, p.4.
 Ibid., para.46, p.8.
 Ibid., para. 54 and Conclusion xvi, p. 9.
 Ibid., paras. 61, 65, pp. 10-11.
 Ibid., Conclusion xviii, p. 11.
 Ibid. paras. 68 , 73 and Conclusion xx, pp. 11-12.
About the author
MEPIELAN Centre is an international research, training and educational centre established by Professor Evangelos Raftopoulos at the Panteion University of Athens in 2008.
Before its establishment as a University Centre, MEPIELAN operated as a successful international research, training and informational programme (2002-2007) under the scientific direction of Professor Evangelos Raftopoulos and the aegis of the Panteion University of Athens, supported by the Mediterranean Action Plan/UNEP and the Greek Ministry of the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works.
MEPIELAN Centre is an accredited UNEP/MAP PARTNER (since 2013), a Member of the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development (MCSD) (since 2016), and a Member of the Steering Committee of the MCSD (since 2019).
On 22 May 2022, MEPIELAN Centre proceeded to the development of MEPIELAN as a Non- Profit Civil Organization (INGO) for the more effective and efficient advancement of its Goals and Missions and furtherance of its activities. MEPIELAN Centre as a Non- Profit Civil Organization (INGO) is registered in Greek Law (Hellenic Business Registry, Reg. No. 16477300100) in accordance with Laws 4072/2012 & 4919/2022 as applicable