De-polluting the Mediterranean by 2020: key actors gather to assess progress

The Steering Committee of the Horizon 2020 Initiative to de-pollute the Mediterranean by 2020 met in Barcelona last month for its fifth meeting since 2008, bringing together the majority of the participating country representatives and the key regional environmental actors such as the European Commission, the Union for the Mediterranean Secretariat, the Mediterranean Action Plan of UNEP and its Regional Activity Centres, the European Investment Bank, regional associations of local authorities, NGOs, and others.
According to a press release, the focus of the meeting was on progress achieved in the Horizon 2020 components, namely investments for pollution reduction; monitoring, review and research; and capacity building, financed mainly by ENPI funded projects. Replication and environmental mainstreaming were also discussed on the basis of the collaborative efforts between three on-going programmes Strategic Partnership for the Mediterranean Sea Large Marine Ecosystem (MedPartnership), Sustainable Water Integrated Management Support Mechanism (SWIM-SM) and H2020 CB/MEP.
The state of play with the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) was outlined as well as perspectives for the future. In addition, the progress and evaluation of UNEP/MAP’s National Action Plans to address land-based pollution were presented.
Rafiq Husseini, UfM Deputy Secretary General for the environment said about H2020, which is a UfM flagship initiative, “On a regular basis during the implementation of an initiative such as the H2020, we should always ask ourselves - and attempt to answer - four fundamental questions: Where are we now? Where do we want to be next year? How do we get there? And, how do we know that we have gotten there?”
 “By addressing concrete actions with our projects we've managed to continue cooperation under Horizon 2020 throughout this period of sweeping change,” pointed outNick Hanley, Head of the International Relations and Enlargement Unit in DG Environment of the European Commission.
The day before the Steering Group, two other H2020 meetings took place. The third meeting of the H2020 Capacity Building Sub-Group assessed the implementation of its work programme so far and took decisions for the next steps to be taken till 2014. An expert group also met in the framework of the ENPI Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS) in order to formulate a set of indicators for monitoring de-pollution progress.
The Horizon 2020 initiative aims to improve the quality of life of more than 420 million citizens living in the 25 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. It is an umbrella programme drawing together all the policies, strategies and action plans for enhancing environmental protection.
Horizon 2020 has mechanisms in capacity-building, research, monitoring and review that place the initiative in an excellent position to address the challenges it faces and ensure the efficient and effective use of the available resources. The inclusion of the Horizon 2020 Initiative as one of the six components of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) adds to the political impetus to address major environmental challenges. (EU Neighbourhood Info Centre)
Read more
Press release
Meeting documents
Horizon 2020 - website
EU Neighbourhood Info Centre interview on H2020 – Battling to beat pollution in the Mediterranean Sea

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