After a decade and a half of negotiations, the UN member states reached agreement on the establishment of the landmark treaty to conserve and sustainably use the marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ treaty) in the context of the resumed fifth session of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC 5-2).* The IGC 5-2 took place from 20 February to 4 March 2023 at UN Headquarters in New York with the mandate to deal with the numerous issues that had been left pending at the conclusion of IGC-5 in August 2022.
List of 2023 Thematic News
The 79th IMO MEPC Adopts the Mediterranean Sea Emission Control Area for Sulphur Oxides and Particulate Matter (Med SOx ECA) on 15 December 2022: A Turning Point in the Mediterranean
The 79th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 79) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) was convened from 12 to 16 December 2022 at IMO Headquarters in London. On 15 December 2022 MEPC 79 adopted the drafted amendments and formally designated the Mediterranean Sea, as a whole, as an Emission Control Area (ECA) for Sulphur Oxides and particulate matter under regulation 14 of Annex VI to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) in an effort to halt the air pollution from ships.
The First Session of the International Negotiating Committee Takes Place Towards a Landmark Global Agreement on Plastic Pollution
Following the mandate agreed by the adoption of the historic UNEA resolution 5/14 in March 2022, the first of the five planned meetings of the International Negotiating Committee (also known as INC-1) took place in Punta del Este, Uruguay from 28 November to 2 December 2022. More than 2.300 delegates from 160 countries and representatives from the private sector and the civil society participated at the meeting. The ultimate task of the INC is to develop an internationally binding instrument to combat plastic pollution by 2024, based on a comprehensive approach that addresses the full lifecycle of plastics.
On November 29, 2022, Tunisia, under Decree No 2022/917, ratified the ICZM Protocol becoming the 13th Contracting Party bound by the relevant provisions. Signed in January 2008 in Madrid by 15 Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention and entered into force on March 24, 2011, following the sixth ratification of the Protocol by the Syrian Arab Republic, the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Protocol constitutes the first regional, legally binding regulatory instrument concerning coastal zone management.
Convened from November 6 to November 18, 2022, in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, also known as the City of Peace, the 27th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change hosted for the first time a Mediterranean Pavilion. This development reflects a joint initiative led by the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) together with UNEP/MAP and the PRIMA Foundation along with the participation of numerous scientific institutions dealing with the adoption of climate action in the region. The initiative has been co-sponsored by Plan Blue, UNEP/MAP’s Regional Activity Center with expertise in sustainable development, and MedWaves, the UNEP/MAP’s Regional Activity Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production, and the independent network of scientists MedECC (Mediterranean Experts on Climate and Environmental Change).
A new dimension for Participatory Rights: Spain recognizes the Mar Menor lagoon as a “subject of rights” and allows for its autonomous governance to ensure its ecosystemic protection
On 30 September 2022, the Spanish Government approved the landmark Law 19/2022 “for the recognition of legal personality of the Mar Menor lagoon and its basin” which grants a new legal status to the Mar Menor coastal lagoon recognizing the rights of the Mar Menor lagoon ecosystem and its basin and allowing for its autonomous governance. The lagoon marine ecosystem of the Mar Menor, with an area of 135 km 2, is the largest coastal lagoon in the Spanish Mediterranean and one of the largest in the western Mediterranean, and, according to the WWF, the Europe’s largest salt-water lagoon. This innovative Law transforms the treatment of the lagoon given until now “from being a mere object of protection, recovery and development, to being an inseparably biological, environmental, cultural and spiritual subject.”