Turkiye, Environment

Countries meet in Turkey to protect Mediterranean from pollution

Representatives from 21 Mediterranean countries attend gathering on environment and sustainable development in region

Ayse Yildiz and Yasemin Kalyoncuoglu   | 07.12.2021
Countries meet in Turkey to protect Mediterranean from pollution

ANTALYA, Turkey 

The countries of a convention designed to protect the Mediterranean Sea from pollution on Tuesday began their 22nd meeting in Antalya, on the southern Turkish coast.

Speaking via video conferencing to the four-day Barcelona Convention COP22 meeting, Carlo Zaghi, the head of the platform, stressed the effects of climate change on the loss of biodiversity in the seas and the ecosystem at large.

Underlining that the Mediterranean region is at risk, he said pollution caused by the maritime and tourism sector has a significant impact.

Murat Kurum, Turkey's environment, urbanization and climate change minister, emphasized the importance of taking key steps to keep the environment healthier.

"We must resolutely take steps for a better environment, better nature, and a better Mediterranean," he underlined.

Kurum went on to say that Turkey is focused on the country's 2053 Blue Plan, which includes long-term protection efforts for Turkey's territorial waters and coasts.

Later Kurum met with his Libyan counterpart Ibrahim Munir and spoke on future joint efforts to protect the Mediterranean.

Bringing 21 countries together

Environment ministers and delegates from 21 Mediterranean countries, as well as EU and UN representatives, are attending the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols meeting, which is held every other year.

The convention constitutes a multilateral legal framework for the protection of the marine and coastal environment, and sustainable use of resources in the Mediterranean.

The Mediterranean Action Plan of the UN Environment Program (UNEP/MAP) is a regional cooperation platform established as the first regional action plan under the UNEP Regional Seas Program.

Although the Mediterranean covers just 1% of the global ocean surface, it is home to more than 17,000 marine species, corresponding to some 4%-18% of the world's known marine species.

In 1975, 16 Mediterranean countries and the European Community adopted MAP, and Turkey became a party to the convention in 1982.

Turkish-nesting turtle logo

The COP 22 logo features the loggerhead turtle – known to scientists as Caretta caretta – an iconic symbol of biological diversity in the Mediterranean.

Mediterranean loggerhead turtles are affected by marine litter and warming air and seawater. Their plight encapsulates the stark threats posed in the region by the triple crisis of pollution, climate change, and biodiversity loss.

It can be found throughout the basin, but its nesting is concentrated in the Eastern Mediterranean, including in sites located in Antalya, the meeting’s host city.

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