During the 10th Anniversary Summit of the Barcelona Process in 2005, the Euro-Mediterranean Partners committed themselves to increasing efforts to substantially reduce the pollution of the Mediterranean by 2020 in what became known as the ‘Horizon 2020 Initiative’ (H2020). Horizon 2020 was endorsed during the Environment Ministerial Conference held in Cairo in November 2006 and was one of the key initiatives of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) since its launch in Paris in 2008.
A 2007-2013 Road-Map was adopted by Ministers in Cairo, which focused on the:
- Identification of projects to reduce the most significant sources of pollution.
- Identification of capacity building measures to help neighbouring countries create national environmental administrations that are able to develop and police environmental laws.
- Use of the EU research budget to develop and share knowledge of environmental issues relevant to the Mediterranean.
- Develop indicators to monitor the success of Horizon 2020.
2013 marked the halfway point of the Horizon 2020 Initiative. A number of assessments, studies and reports were conducted to feed into an overall Mid-term Review that was carried out during 2013-2014 to present the achievements and challenges ahead and propose recommendations for the next phase, for policy makers and other H2020 stakeholders.
The mid–term review process culminated in the UfM Ministerial meeting on Environment and Climate Change held in Athens on 13 May 2014 during which Ministers reaffirmed their commitment towards the Horizon 2020 Initiative and gave the H2020 Steering Group the mandate to develop and adopt a work programme for the second phase. Therefore a Work Programme for the 2015-2020 phase was prepared which focuses – under the different H2020 Components - on the following:
- Broadening the scope: more focus on pollution prevention and pay attention to emerging issues including hazardous waste and marine litter;
- Increased synergies with the Barcelona Convention decisions related to Sustainable Consumption and Production & implementation of the Ecosystem Approach, integrated monitoring and assessment at regional level; Hot-Spots and project prioritisation, MoU, mainstreaming of focal points as appropriate;
- Commitment regarding implementation and enforcement of legislation;
- Commitment to apply SEIS principles in line with ECAP Decision;
- Commitment to initiate reforms at national level to create an attractive investment environment;
- Welcoming of MeHSIP II and commitment to continue the pipeline of projects, including new methodology to identify Hot-Spots under the BCN NAPs revision and project prioritisation;
- Revamp of the pollution reduction sub-group
A more general requirement is the need to integrate green economy principles in the H2020 Initiative work programme. By calling for strengthening its pollution prevention dimension, Ministers acknowledged the crucial role of green economy principles and sustainable consumption and production (SCP) patterns to prevent the further deterioration of the Mediterranean Sea as well as to ensure the sustainability of results (including pollution abatement investments). Ministers called for increased synergies in this area which implies adopting a broader vision and range of activities in each component.
In parallel, the National Action Plans (NAPs) were updated by all Mediterranean countries under UNEP/MAP guidance with EU support. This is an important contribution to the identification and prioritization of specific actions urgently needed and to be considered during the implementation of the 2015-2020 Work Programme H2020.