UN Environment Programme and EIB join forces to reduce pollution in the marine and coastal environment

(Source: European Investment Bank)

  • Launch of the Global Environment Facility Mediterranean Pollution Hot Spots Technical Assistance initiative
  • Preparing projects to reduce marine and coastal pollution
  • Focus on Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) today launched the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Mediterranean Pollution Hot Spots Technical Assistance initiative, which aims to reduce pollution in the Mediterranean marine and coastal environment.

As part of the USD 4 million Hot Spots Pollution project, the initiative aims to promote adequate and sound water, wastewater, solid waste and industrial emissions management in the Southern Mediterranean region, thereby reducing health risks and enhancing access to safe drinking water and sanitation services.

The initiative was launched on the sidelines of the UN Oceans Conference in Lisbon by Vice President of the EIB, Ricardo Mourinho Félix, and Susan Gardner, Director of UNEP’s Ecosystems Division. The two agreed to support preparation of priority investment projects to reduce pollution in the marine and coastal environments of the three Southern Mediterranean countries, namely Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia.

“Untreated discharges of wastewater represent a major problem for Mediterranean ecosystems and the health of the population living in the region. Many large coastal cities still lack a wastewater treatment system, and many existing systems are based on outdated and inefficient technologies,” said Susan Gardner. “This joint GEF-EIB-UNEP project will pool resources to decrease pollution and improve the marine ecosystems and the health of people living in the Mediterranean region.”

According to the 2021 State of Finance for Nature report, in order for the world to meet its climate change, biodiversity and land degradation targets, a total of USD 8.1 trillion is required between now and 2050. The Technical Assistance initiative is a step forward toward bridging this gap.

The Mediterranean Basin is one of the most highly valued seas in the world. The region comprises a vast set of coastal and marine ecosystems that deliver valuable benefits to all its 250 million coastal inhabitants. But the Mediterranean Sea is facing multiple pressures caused by human activities, including chemical contamination, eutrophication, pollution by marine litter and over-exploitation.

The technical assistance provided under the Mediterranean Hot Spots Investment Programme (MeHSIP) will be geared towards helping promoters accelerate the preparation of financeable projects in the water and environment sectors that will tackle these pressures.

Ricardo Mourinho Félix, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank said: “The state of the Mediterranean Sea is crucial for biodiversity conservation, the availability of clean water resources and to sustain jobs that rely on it. The EIB is one of the largest lenders to the global water sector. I am very pleased to intensify our long-standing cooperation with UNEP to support the depollution of the Mediterranean. It will contribute to the objectives of the Clean Ocean Initiative set up to improve the health of the oceans globally.”

The USD 4 million Mediterranean Pollution Hot Spots Investment Project is one of the, USD 42 million, GEF-funded MedProgramme’s child projects implemented by UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan – Barcelona Convention.

The launch of the Technical Assistance initiative marks progress toward realising commitments taken at the 22nd Meeting of the Contracting Parties (COP 22) to the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols on regional prevention and pollution reduction measures from wastewater treatment plants.

Background information

About the European Investment Bank

As the EU’s climate bank, the EIB committed to support €1 trillion of climate action and environmental sustainability investments in the next decade. Under its Clean and Sustainable Ocean Programme, of which the Clean Oceans Initiative is one important pillar, the EIB supports investments that will contribute to improve the health of the oceans and their resources.

More information about EIB’s activities to preserve the oceans

About the Global Environment Facility

The Global Environment Facility is the largest multilateral fund working to enable developing countries to invest in nature. It supports the implementation of international environmental conventions on biodiversity, climate change, chemicals, and desertification. Since 1991, it has provided more than $21.7 billion in grants and blended finance and mobilized an additional $119 billion in co-financing for more than 5,000 projects and programs. Through its Small Grants Programme, the GEF has provided support to more than 26,000 civil society and community initiatives in 135 countries.

About UNEP/MAP and the Barcelona Convention

The Mediterranean Action Plan of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP/MAP) is a regional cooperation platform established in 1975 as the first regional action plan under the UNEP Regional Seas Programme.

The adoption of the Barcelona Convention in 1976 was one of the early achievements of UNEP/MAP. The UNEP/MAP-Barcelona Convention system constitutes a comprehensive institutional, legal and implementation framework that the Contracting Parties have adopted for concerted action to fulfil the vision of a healthy Mediterranean Sea and coast that underpin sustainable development in the region.

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