The second pillar of WES, the Environment component  focuses mainly on the prevention of pollution reaching the Mediterranean Sea, minimizing marine litter and plastics and support to shifting to sustainable consumption and production.

Activities under this component are very closely aligned with the Horizon 2020 Initiative’s priorities, national policies and needs of the Partner Countries as well as with the regional priorities of the Union for the Mediterranean,  UN Environment/MAP  and other regional initiatives.  Themes under this component are directly linked to the main recommended themes for the 2nd UfM Ministerial Declaration on Environment and Climate Change, namely:

  •  Reduce and Prevent Pollution

By specifically addressing municipal waste, industrial pollution, wastewater, hazardous waste and marine litter (including plastics) and other relevant pollution sources and promoting nature-based solutions for pollution control.

  •  Increase Resource Efficiency and Sustainable Consumption and Production

This specifically addresses emissions reduction, green entrepreneurship, and a particular focus on promoting sustainable packaging to reduce plastic waste.

WES Topics under the Environment component will therefore include:

Topic 1: Curbing Plastic Pollution and Marine Litter

WES will provide tailored and targeted support to promote and scale-up best practice measures and implement follow-up actions on this subject. This support will galvanize the ongoing efforts to implement the Barcelona Convention Regional Plan for Marine Litter Management in the Mediterranean and operationalize the key elements of the Plastics Strategy towards a paradigm shift to sustainable consumption and production combined with a truly resource efficient and circular economy in the Mediterranean.

In line with the EU Plastics Strategy, WES will further focus on:

  • Support for marine litter monitoring and assessment on beaches, the sea surface and the seafloor.
  • Development of measures, such as fees/taxes/levies, to reduce the production/consumption of plastics, with a special emphasis on single-use plastics (i.e. cutlery, plates, straws, cotton bud sticks, food containers, etc.) and fishing gear.
  • Establishment of derelict fishing gear schemes and measures to reinforce the application of the ‘polluter pays’ principle and also impose an Extended Producer Responsibility regime for fishing gear to ensure that manufacturers and not fishermen, bear the costs of collecting nets lost in the sea.
  • Improvement of port reception facilities in line with the guidelines currently elaborated by UN Environment/MAP and for provision of reception facilities in ports and delivery of ship-generated waste, and the application of reasonable charges for the use of port reception facilities or when applicable application of the no-special-fee system.
  • Awareness raising on the use of alternatives to single-use plastics (to ensure not shifting to wrong solutions and in particular to avoid misconceptions on biodegradable/compostable plastics).

Topic 2: Promotion of Circular Economy 

Wes will support policy makers, local authorities, industry and the business community towards a rapid but sound shift to SCP, while providing for a multi- stakeholder dialogue, to identify challenges and legal and economic solutions/instruments (like Extended Producer Responsibility – EPR) that boost Circular Economy and SCP. WES will continue in terms of promoting mechanisms, tools and conditions for shifting to a sustainable material resources management, with somewhat of an emphasis on plastics.

Topic 3: Prevention and Reduction of Pollution reaching the Mediterranean from specific industrial sectors

WES is focusing on the Olive Oil and Cement sectors (without out ruling others such as Iron and Steel Mills, Chemicals, Textiles, Energy production). Current increasing living standards and rapid urbanization and expansion of “infrastructures” (roads, airports, etc.) have brought a construction “fever” in most of the countries of the region. This has resulted in a considerable increase of Construction & Demolition waste (C&D) throughout the region.

In many cases there is also uncontrolled disposal in coastal areas and river banks. Under this topic WES will inform stakeholders about the state of the art technology, organization and practices of handling construction & demolition waste and recovery of high quality materials, eventually also with the involvement of the informal sector, including treatment and disposal technologies taking into account also the energy demands and saving potentials.

The overall aim is to maximize the sustainability of construction & demolition waste management, to demonstrate that the design/processes/operations will lead to reductions in the environmental impact of construction & demolition waste and to demonstrate best practices in the environmental performance of site activities.

Topic 4: Support in Mainstreaming and implementing Integrated Environmental Management in selected coastal systems (areas)

The majority of the Mediterranean countries-parties to the Barcelona Convention have committed to prepare Integrated Coastal Zone Management plans. Most of the WES Partner Countries are in the process of searching appropriate modalities, synergies and expertise in preparing such plans.

Similarly, the Barcelona Convention parties have agreed to implement the Ecosystem Based Approach (EBA) in their plans, which implies that a series of criteria and objectives need to be observed in preparing strategic frameworks, policies, strategies and management plans, with active involvement of various stakeholders. On these issues, the expertise existing in the countries is still quite limited.

Sharing of experience by WES will greatly facilitate authorities in addressing challenges and difficulties related to the implementation of such an approach.