Articles

Amman, Jordan hosts preparatory meetings for the UfM Ministerial Meeting on Environment and Climate Change

on 11 March 2014.

A Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Ministerial Meeting on Environment and Climate Change is overdue. The last Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference on the Environment in November 2006 established the Horizon 2020 Initiative for the De-pollution of the Mediterranean and endorsed the timetable for its first phase, while the ministers agreed to periodically review its implementation. Two attempts at holding a ministerial meeting so far have not come to fruition due to external factors. At the same time, climate action is increasing in importance, namely considering the expected serious impacts of a changing climate in the Mediterranean region, as well as climate change international scene.

At the UfM Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) in Vilnius on the 3rd of October 2013, member countries of the UfM agreed to a Ministerial Meeting on Environment and Climate Change. At the SOM in Barcelona on 26th November, member countries agreed to hold the Ministerial in Greece by mid-end of May, back-to-back to the Informal Council meetings on environment and energy. The Ministerial Conference is now scheduled for the 13th of May 2014.

Three preparatory meetings will take place in Amman which are organised by the Co-Presidencies of the Union for the Mediterranean, the European Union and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan:

• 10-11 March 2014: a Stakeholder Consultation for the UfM Ministerial on Environment and Climate Change. It will provide the opportunity to collect input from various actors in the region, including financial institutions, academia, UN agencies, industry associations, NGOs and CSOs about the main issues under discussion for the UfM Ministerial meeting.
• 12 March 2014: an ad-hoc Meeting of the Horizon 2020 Steering Group. It will discuss the draft synthesis report that will be the cornerstone of the Mid-term review of the Horizon 2020 Initiative.
• 12 March 2014: a Climate Change Experts Group meeting.
• 13-14 March 2014: an ad-hoc UfM SOM which will offer the opportunity to discuss the draft Ministerial Declaration.

Leading up to the Amman meetings:

The paper endorsed by the member countries of the UfM at the Vilnius SOM identified three priority topics for discussion in the Ministerial:
(1) Horizon 2020 Initiative to de-pollute the Mediterranean: review of the implementation of its first phase (2007-2013) and renewed political support for the implementation of the second phase (2014-2020), in the form of clear strategic recommendations and possibly an operational timetable.
(2) Climate Change: strengthening cooperation in the area of climate change, including in the form of a regional Climate Change Working Group, i.e. a mechanism for exchange, consultation and soft coordination on low carbon and climate resilient development actions that does not duplicate existing efforts and is associated with a clear political commitment of the concerned countries.
(3) Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP): Reaffirming the importance (and the need) of switching to Green/Low carbon modalities of consumption and production based on the Rio+20 Declaration of 2012. Ministers will be asked to support the on-going process of preparing a regional SCP roadmap and action plan under the Barcelona Convention.

The relevant outcomes from other related processes, such as the Rio +20, the COP of the Barcelona Convention, or several UfM Ministerial meetings are also intended to be integrated in the text of the declaration. Other key issues, such as biodiversity, integrated coastal zone management, integrated maritime policy, urban issues, environmental mainstreaming, education for sustainable development, etc., are also expected to be referred to as well as the possibility to establish a regular UfM/regional environment consultation mechanism of high level experts/officials, in order to follow up on priorities and provide input on emerging issues.

Unlike for other UfM Ministerial meetings, no specific regional consultation mechanisms exist for environment or climate change. The Steering Group meetings of the Horizon 2020 Initiative for the de-pollution of the Mediterranean (for which each Member country has designated a Focal Point) have served so far as one of the main fora for discussion on environmental issues in the region. Furthermore, no structured dialogue on climate change has taken place so far; some cross-border exchanges have been established within the framework of regional projects and/or initiatives, which can be seen as first steps towards more structured and comprehensive Mediterranean cooperation on climate change issues.

However, the topics to be addressed by the Ministerial on Environment and Climate Change are broader than those covered by the Horizon 2020 Initiative or the respective climate change projects, and it is therefore appropriate that, as part of the preparatory work to the Ministerial, a stakeholder meeting be organised. The stakeholders meeting, is open to officials, experts and other stakeholders concerned with the subject matter of the Ministerial. Outcomes from steering committee meetings of regional projects relevant to the Ministerial meeting will be considered so as to offer additional input for discussion at the stakeholder event. Conclusions and recommendations stemming from the stakeholder event will be then advanced at the other events organised in preparation of the ad-hoc SOM on the 13th and 14th of March.