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UNECE fosters new partnerships for the protection of marine and coastal ecosystems through environmental assessments

Seaside Italy

Regional seas and coastal ecosystems, located either entirely or partly within the UNECE region, face growing environmental pressures caused by climate change, the increasing pollution loads, tourism, fishing, mining of minerals, and energy production (such as offshore wind power plants). These pressures risk to adversely impact the coastal and marine ecosystems and reduce the services and goods they provide to the population within and beyond the region - such as fish, recreation or protection against increasingly variable weather events.

Reflecting on these pressures, which arise in many regions, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for new and more effective partnerships for the protection of marine and coastal ecosystems.

At the initiative of Italy, the Parties to the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention) and the Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment have agreed to explore and promote cooperation opportunities to reinforce the prevention or the mitigation  of the negative environmental impacts of the new development planning and projects  in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as in the Arctic Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, and the North-East Atlantic marine region through the application of transboundary environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment.

This work is done in consultation and cooperation with representatives of the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean and the following other interested regional sea conventions and bodies: The Working Group on the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment under Arctic Council; the Bucharest Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea against Pollution; the Helsinki Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area; the Tehran  Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea; and the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR Convention).

On 16 June, UNECE hosted a joint technical meeting with representatives of secretariats and Parties of the respective conventions to discuss the applicable legal requirements implying environmental impact assessment and the priorities and opportunities to further cooperation for their effective implementation. The participants agreed on the benefits of the cooperation, starting with further exchanges of information, good practices and lessons learned. The joint work for identifying most relevant cooperation activities will continue, in close consultation with the respective treaty bodies. Ultimately, an assessment report outlining proposed activities will be submitted to the next sessions of the Meetings of the Parties to the Espoo Convention and its Protocol in December 2023. 

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