19 September 2016

More good news for oceans as Italy pledges millions of euros for sea protection

More good news for oceans as Italy pledges millions of euros for sea protection

PRESS RELEASE - 17 September 2016 - Italy's Ministry of Environment and Protection of Land and Sea committed 4.5 million euro in new funds for the protection of the sea through UN Environment's Mediterranean Action Plan.

The sum will be used to fund better safeguarding of protected areas in the Mediterranean, tackling the critical issue of marine litter, improving environmentally friendly management of coastal zones and boosting socio-economic development that benefit people and marine ecosystems (blue growth).

"This is an initiative undertaken to strengthen the collaboration and cooperation between our country and the Barcelona Convention, following the signature of the Livorno Charter," said Silvia Velo, Italian Under-Secretary of State for Environment. "In view of the Italian G7 presidency and in the first phase of implementation of the agreement, priority will be given to actions for the management of marine litter and the promotion of governance tools of blue growth."

"The cooperation agreement that we signed today confirms once again the extraordinary commitment of Italy for the protection of the marine and coastal environment of the Mediterranean," said Gaetano Leone, Coordinator of UN Environment's Mediterranean Action Plan and of the Secretariat to the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean. "The priorities that we have developed together will produce concrete actions that have a great impact."

Italy's pledge is the latest in a series of actions by countries to protect our oceans. Last month, US President Barack Obama announced the expansion of a marine national monument off the coast of Hawaii, making it the largest protected area in the world. Earlier, the island state of Palau declared 80 per cent of its territorial waters off-limits for fishing, mining and other forms of exploitation.

In its 2016 Protected Planet report, UN Environment's World Conservation Monitoring Centre found that in the past decade marine protected areas have more than quadrupled and now cover 17 million square kilometers - over 4 per cent of the global ocean. This is still far from the target of protecting 30 per cent of our oceans, set this month by the International Union for Conservation of Nature earlier this month, which makes Italy's contribution to the global effort even more valuable.

About UN Environment's Mediterranean Action Plan

The Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) was adopted in 1975 by Mediterranean countries and the European Community under the auspices of UN Environment's Regional Seas Programme to monitor and protect the Mediterranean marine environment from pollution threats while ensuring the integrated development of the natural basin's resources on the basis of multilateral cooperation.

About the Barcelona Convention

In 1976, Mediterranean countries and the European Community adopted the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution as the legal basis for international cooperation in protecting the Mediterranean environment.

The scope of Barcelona Convention gradually widened to include integrated coastal zone planning and management. Today, 40 years later, there are 22 Contracting Parties working together to protect the Mediterranean marine and coastal environment while boosting regional and national plans to achieve sustainable development.

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