MedCities contributed to 3 key events during Barcelona’s Ocean Week and UN Oceans Decade Conference -10 to 12 April- and celebrates the endorsement of three member cities to the EU Mission Oceans Charter

Barcelona hosted from 10 to 12 April the UN Ocean Decade Conference, bringing together 1,500 people from all over the world. Organised by UNESCO, the event analysed the challenges and opportunities linked to the sustainability of large oceans and provided the opportunity for a full week of events dedicated to the oceans.

MedCities started the week with the participation in the event “Rising to the Ocean Decade Challenges: A regional and city perspective” co-organised by the Barcelona City Council, the Catalan government, the port of Barcelona and the Marine Sciences Institute with a session dedicated to the work undertaken by the Ocean Cities Network (OCNet), to which MedCities is a member. The session opened with a video intervention by the Mayor of Barcelona, Jaume Collboni. “Cities must have their voice and from Barcelona, we are already working with other Mediterranean cities to promote the restoration of marine ecosystems and protect the biodiversity they host” he explained.

The session counted with interventions from Barcelona, Ancona, Mersin Metropolitan Municipality and MedCities Secretary General sharing the recommendations steaming from local multi-stakeholders workshops to give impulse to the restoration of urban coastal and marine ecosystems to contribute to the 30% protection target.

All three cities have recently endorsed the EU Mission Ocean & Waters charter which aims to depollute the Mediterranean, restore its coastal and marine ecosystems, and foster a sustainable blue economy. This fact was shared and celebrated with the European Commission on a dedicated onsite Satellite Event during the official conference. “Turn Ideas into Action. The Mediterranean Lighthouse as a pilot to upscale the challenges of the Decade from local to global” co-organized by the European Commission, the BlueMissionMed (BMM) CSA project and MedCities –BMM partner-  showed that by connecting the people and places with the necessary solutions and knowledge, the Mission supports key actors, like waterfront cities, regions, ports, islands, fisheries, and conservation communities to become resilient, climate-neutral and future-proof.

The event counted with a keynote by John Bell, Deputy Mission Manager and Director Healthy Planet, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, and the closing remarks by Pascal Lamy, Chair of the Mission Board for the Mission Ocean & Waters. It was the occasion for four new cities, three of them MedCities members- Barcelona, Ancona, and Mersin Metropolitan Municipality– that joined the Mission Ocean & Waters Charter and presented their engagements. Barcelona city council presented the public-private partnership built to define its pioneer Blue Economy Strategy, while the City of Mersin shared the project “Clean Mediterranean” to address various marine pressures in close collaboration with the Middle East Technical University and including pollution prevention and marine restoration actions. Ancona put in value European funds to apply tailor-made innovative solutions, such as the management of sanitation waters for boats at Ancona marina. The city of Burgas is fostering a sustainable blue economy by supporting fishermen and aquaculture communities, encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship as well as enhancing environmental monitoring and waste management.

Their interventions were followed by implementing a collaborative and participative dialogue to prioritize action in “The Zero Pollution hierarchy” for Prevention, Minimization/Control, and Elimination/Remediation of pollutants from waters and ocean. The collaborative effort promoted with the participation of the event attendees contributed to identifying which solutions and best practices cities should apply to achieve the Mission objectives, what kind of support local authorities need to implement these solutions, and what kind of synergies can be implemented to help to reach common objectives across different basins.

The event was preceded by a technical visit co-organized with the Barcelona City Council water cycle department (BCASA) and UNEP MAP MedWaves to the largest of the 13 underground rainwater collection deposits of Barcelona. Smart management of Barcelona’s drainage and sewerage network helps to minimize discharges into the natural environment during periods of intense rainfall and reduces the environmental impact on beaches. Participants could learn about installing floater and solid-waste retention systems at the sewerage network’s discharge points to help reduce the pollution load that reaches the natural receiving environment. The municipality also presented the Barcelona Zero Plastic Commitment.

Last but not least, MedCities Secretary General participated at a roundtable of the satellite event “Marine Protected Areas/MPA Forum” session organized by MedPAN and UNEP MAP RAC/SPA “ Because Marine Protected Areas are everyone’s business: Harnessing capacities and strength for a healthy Mediterranean Sea!”. The roundtable discussion provided a platform for MedPAN and partners to take stock of the marine conservation and MPAs in the Mediterranean region and to identify what are the main barriers and issues in terms of MPAs and Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMIs) effective management.

The MPA Forum/Roadmap Process was highlighted and a new call for commitment, as well as the MoU between MedPAN and MedCities. The event closed with the official signature of the MoU by MedPAN President Puri Canals and MedCities Secretary General Josep Canals.

In a nutshell, the protection of the oceans starts in the cities!

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