Re-launched in 2014 through new impetus from the Ministerial on Environment and Climate Change, the Pollution Reduction sub-group of the Horizon 2020 Initiative will be co-chaired by the UfM Secretariat and the European Investment Bank to provide a platform for different donors to coordinate their action and address project-related challenges in the region. The sub-group is tasked with the identification and development of investment projects that will reduce the most significant sources of pollution in the Mediterranean.
A Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Ministerial Meeting on Environment and Climate Change is overdue. The last Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference on the Environment in November 2006 established the Horizon 2020 Initiative for the De-pollution of the Mediterranean and endorsed the timetable for its first phase, while the ministers agreed to periodically review its implementation. Two attempts at holding a ministerial meeting so far have not come to fruition due to external factors. At the same time, climate action is increasing in importance, namely considering the expected serious impacts of a changing climate in the Mediterranean region, as well as climate change international scene.
The "Horizon 2020 Mediterranean report - Toward shared environmental information systems" was released on the 13th of May at the UfM Ministerial Conference on Environment and Climate Change. The report is part of the mid-term review of the Horizon 2020 Initiative and has been coordinated by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the United Nations Environment Programme/Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP) with EC funding under the ENPI-SEIS project.
The year 2013 marks the mid-way point of the Horizon 2020 Initiative. Under the Horizon 2020 components and projects but also under the EU, UfM and UNEP/MAP frameworks, a number of assessments, studies and reports (see more details below) are underway which will feed into an overall Mid-term Review of the Horizon2020 Initiative. Their first results were presented at the 6th Steering Group Meeting of the H2020 Initiative (19-20 November 2013) and will be further elaborated in the Amman meetings described above. A synthesis report will facilitate the process by taking stock of progress made during the 2007-2013 phase of the Initiative and making recommendations for its next phase. The final recommendations of the Mid-term Review of the H2020 Initiative are expected to be a background document for the UfM Environment and Climate Change Ministerial in May 2014 and provide the basis for the launch of the second phase of the Horizon 2020 Initiative (2014-2020).
The UfM Ministerial Meeting of May 2014 also formally and unanimously endorsed the Mediterranean Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development (MSESD). The Strategy was finalised with the support of the Horizon 2020 Initiative which facilitated the final stakeholder consultations on the text.
Regarding the implementation of projects to prevent the Mediterranean Sea against pollution, the Union for the Mediterranean has drafted in 2013 a clear and updated picture of the investment portfolio in Jordan and the 21 countries bordering the Sea, based on the UNEP/MAP depollution Strategic Action Plan (SAP 2003) and National Action Plans – NAPs (2005).
Ministers attending the first Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Ministerial Meeting on Environment and Climate Change in Athens on the 13th of May issued a Declaration reiterating their commitment to tackle the growing environmental and climate challenges facing the region. More specifically the Ministers agreed to launch the second phase of the Horizon 2020 Initiative with the full involvement of the UfM Secretariat and agreed on future strategic directions to reduce pollution and increase resource efficiency in the Mediterranean.
Following the completion of the feasibility studies for the four priority pollution reduction projects in 2013, MeHSIP-PPIF’s focus turned to facilitating the final steps to financing these projects. MeHSIP-PPIF continued working closely with Promoters and the EIB to facilitate the process of closing the financing. Two out of the four investment projects (Lake Bizerte in Tunisia and Kafr El Sheikh in Egypt) have been approved for financing by the EIB and are in the process of securing funding from a co-financier. The project in Lebanon (Al Ghadir) is also attracting strong interest from financing institutions and should be able to move forward. For Jordan, despite the economic situation in the country not allowing the project to proceed further at the moment, the feasibility study prepared by MeHSIP-PPIF has provided a solid basis once the discussions between IFIs/donors and the Government will resume. Finally, three of the investment projects have secured grant support from the Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF).