The 21st Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean (Barcelona Convention) and its Protocols will take place on 2-5 December 2019 in Castel dell’Ovo, a historic castle by the sea located in the Gulf of Naples.


COP 21 will consider for adoption a number of draft decisions related to governance of the UNEP/MAP—Barcelona Convention system as well as to thematic issues. Furthermore, Cop 21 will discuss and eventually adopt the UNEP/MAP Programme of Work and Budget for 2020-2021.

Governance-related themes include, inter alia, the evaluation of the current UNEP/MAP Mid-Term Strategy and the preparation of the new one for 2022-2027, the Operational Communication Strategy, the roadmap for the preparation of a Data Management Policy, issues of cooperation and partnerships, as well as the work of the Compliance Committee – the body established in 2008 to advise and assist the Contracting Parties in meeting their obligations under the Convention and its Protocols and, to facilitate, promote, monitor and ensure such compliance.

Other draft decisions related to governance focus on the mid-term evaluation of the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development (2016–2025) and of the regional Action Plan on Sustainable Consumption and Production in the Mediterranean; as well as on environmental assessments in the Mediterranean, including the 2019 State of the Environment and Development Report and a preliminary assessment of risks associated to climate and environmental changes in the Mediterranean Region.

A number of important draft decisions pertain also to operational themes related to the protection of the marine environment and the coastal region of the Mediterranean:

  • a roadmap for a possible designation of the Mediterranean Sea area as an emission control area for Sulphur oxides;
  • six regional plans to reduce or prevent marine pollution from land-based sources;
  • new standards and guidelines to curb pollution under three Protocols of the Barcelona Convention addressing dumping, offshore and land-based sources;
  • guidelines on Adopt-a-Beach activities aimed at curbing marine litter and on phasing out single-use plastic bags;
  • common standards and guidelines related to offshore activities;
  • a common regional framework for Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) in line with the ICZM Protocol of the Barcelona Convention;
  • identification and conservation of Sites of Particular Ecological Interest in the Mediterranean, including Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance;
  • the Strategic Action Programme for the conservation of Biological Diversity (SAP BIO) in the Mediterranean Region; the strategy on Monk Seal; Action Plans concerning Marine Turtles, Cartilaginous Fishes and Marine Vegetation; and the Classification of Benthic Marine Habitat Types for the Mediterranean Region and Reference List of Marine and Coastal Habitat Types in the Mediterranean;
  • updated guidelines regulating the placement of artificial reefs at sea;
  • a set of regional measures aimed at supporting the development of green and circular businesses and stimulating demand for sustainable products.

Award Ceremony

Istanbul Environment Friendly City Award 2018-2019

The winner of the 2019 edition of the “Istanbul Environment Friendly City Award” will be announced during a ceremony that will take place during the Conference.

The Contracting Parties established the Award to recognize and reward the efforts of local authorities to improve the environment and the quality of life, and to promote sustainable development in Mediterranean coastal towns and cities.