PAM and UNEP/MAP organize a joint webinar to discuss climate change and environmental degradation in the Mediterranean

On 14 December 2020, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM) and the UN Environment Programme/Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP) co-organized a high-level webinar on “Supporting the science-policy interface for a green renaissance in the Mediterranean”. The objective of the event was to strengthen synergies and collaboration between parliamentarians and scientists in addressing climate change and environmental degradation in the Mediterranean Basin. 

The virtual meeting gathered over 70 participants, including inter alia representatives of National Parliaments from PAM Member States and the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. The event also convened high participation from scientists, representatives from universities and research centers, and other high-level guests from international organizations. 

The PAM-UNEP/MAP webinar followed the Climate Ambition Summit, co-hosted two days earlier by the United Nations, the UK, and France, with the support of Italy and Chile, on the occasion of the 5th Anniversary of the Paris Agreement. At the Summit, 75 National leaders from all over the world announced new net-zero commitments and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), paving the way for a truly Global Coalition for Carbon Neutrality. 

In this context, and with the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) less than a year away, the PAM-UNEP/MAP meeting served as an opportunity for policymakers to discuss the adoption of new adaptation plans to halt current climate trends and improve environmental capacities in the Mediterranean. Speakers at the webinar included parliamentarians from PAM Member States, senior officers from United Nations agencies, and climate experts from prestigious research institutions. 

The event was opened by Ambassador Sergio Piazzi, PAM Secretary General, who acted as moderator for the panel and debates. Ambassador Piazzi welcomed the participants and delivered some initial remarks, emphasizing the need for bold action to realize a green renaissance in the Mediterranean. 

In his introductory speech, Mr. Gaetano Leone, Coordinator of the UNEP/MAP Barcelona Convention Secretariat, stressed the urgency for Mediterranean countries to increase their commitments towards climate change to get on track with Agenda 2030. In this respect, he highlighted the importance of the excellent cooperation between PAM and UNEP/MAP, being an illustrative example of the alignment between science and policymaking that is needed to guarantee a future of sustainability and prosperity in the region. 

Hon. Alain Perea, France, PAM Vice-President and Rapporteur on Environment,called on parliamentarians to devise and prioritize conditional Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) which incorporate structural incentives and limitations to achieve substantive emissions cuts. Hon. Perea also remarked on the efforts of the Assembly to mobilize strategic partnerships in a way that ensures parliamentarians are informed and take action on the latest and most accredited climate research.

The floor was then given to Dr. Daniele Violetti, Director of Means of Implementation Division at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In his intervention, Mr. Violetti highlighted the opportunity for national governments to prioritize green policies in the context of the economic recovery from COVID-19 also in view of COP 26. He also emphasized the outcomes from the Climate Ambition Summit, asking policymakers across the Mediterranean to raise ambitions and commitments in compliance with global sustainability objectives.

Two flagship reports on the latest findings on climate and environmental change in the Mediterranean were then presented to the audience. Dr. Francois Guerquin, Director of the UNEP/MAP Regional Activity Centre Plan Bleu, detailed the key messages of the “State of the Environment and Development in the Mediterranean (SoED)”, a recent report published by Plan Bleu and UNEP/MAP. The presentation outlined the need for parliamentarians to associate regulatory measures with economic instruments to disincentivize non-renewable energies and unsustainable practices. Dr. Guerquin also called for increased mobilization among stakeholders to achieve stronger science-policy interfaces at national and regional levels. 

A comprehensive presentation of the First Mediterranean Assessment Report (MAR1) on Climate and Environmental Change in the Mediterranean Basin was subsequently delivered by Dr. Joel Guiot, Coordinator of the Mediterranean Experts on Climate and environmental Change (MedECC) and one of the main authors of the report. Dr. Guiot outlined the risks of the current climate and development trajectories to coastal areas, natural resources, and ecosystems across the Mediterranean. In his recommendations, he highlighted the importance of greater scientific exchange among Mediterranean countries to enforce concerted actions at the regional level, overcoming cultural and national differences.

The debate that followed provided parliamentarians and attendees with an opportunity to discuss the two reports and evaluate strategies for greater implementation of green initiatives throughout the region. Among them, Hon. Ammar Moussi, senior MP from the Algerian Delegation to PAM, stressed the disproportionate impact of climate change on the southern shore of the Mediterranean, and emphasized the importance of developing a shared culture of environmental protection across the basin. Dr. Mukesh Kapila, Senior Medical Advisor to PAM, shared his insights on the impact of climate change on human health and health systems, which will come under increasing strain without effective mitigation strategies. There was consensus among those who took the floor on the need for new national NDCs and greater regional commitments to foster the development of an ambitious regional strategy for halting the current climate change and environmental degradation trends in the Mediterranean.  

In delivering the closing remarks, Hon. Pedro Roque, Portugal, PAM President Emeritus and President of the PAM 2nd Standing Committee on Economic, Social, and Environmental Cooperation, thanked the participants for their valuable contributions to the event. He reiterated the importance of a robust network of policymakers and scientists in achieving a green renaissance in the Mediterranean and the role of PAM in facilitating the establishment of these relationships and dialogues. 

The webinar represented the inauguration of a series of events and collaborations that PAM will jointly carry out with UNEP/MAP and UNFCCC throughout the whole of 2021 in the context of the forthcoming Italian Presidency of the G20, the COP26, and the 22ndMeeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention next summer in Turkey.// 


Link to the video-recording of the Virtual Event: https://youtu.be/YYtXj_5er2w   

Link to the presentations of SoED and MAR1 reports: 

MAR1/MedECC: https://bit.ly/3oSuvHT

RED /SoED 2020: https://bit.ly/3qTcICt 



Issued on: 16/12/2020

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