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COP 23 – Slovenia hosted the 23rd Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention

As one of the Contracting Parties to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean, better known as the Barcelona Convention, Slovenia hosted COP 23 – Conference for the Mediterranean between 5 and 8 December 2023 in Portorož. The meetings of the Contracting Parties are biannually organised by one of the Contracting Parties to the Convention, which thus also assumes its presidency. Slovenia is taking over the presidency from Turkey and it will pass it on to Egypt in 2025.

The purpose of the meeting taking place under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme is to review the implementation of the Convention and its protocols and determine the programme and priorities of the Contracting Parties for the next two years.

Many renowned guests from various international governmental and non-governmental organisations participated in the general discussion entitled “Green Transition in the Mediterranean: From Decisions to Actions”.

A ministerial meeting took place within COP 23, which was attended by Minister mag. Alenka Bratušek, the Minister of Infrastructure in her role as the Acting Minister of Natural Resources and Spatial Planning. The attendees were also addressed by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr Robert Golob. Lučka Kajfež Bogataj, a renowned scientist and one of the Slovenian pioneers in the research of climate change impact, participated in the panel discussion on behalf of Slovenia.


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With the adoption of the Portorož Ministerial Declaration, the Contracting Parties advocated measures for a faster green transition and investment in the safer water, climate, food and energy future of the marine environment and the coastal region of the Mediterranean.

The official part of the meeting was accompanied by many side events on topical issues.

Young people were placed at the forefront.

Discussion partners exchanged good practices at the event entitled “Education and Youth: For a Sustainable Future in the Mediterranean” and drafted joint guidelines for the transformation of school systems in Mediterranean countries so they could provide efficient tools when combating environment pollution and adjusting to climate change in the light of increasingly frequent and high-impact extreme weather events.

  • Mitja Brecelj sits at a table on stage and speaks. Two female speakers are sitting next to him.

    The 23rd conference (COP23) Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention was chaired by Mitja Bricelj. Photo: Peter Irman

Slovenia’s role

The main tasks of the Slovenian Presidency will be linked with the management of areas on land, coast and sea, including modern measures to prevent pollution and other ecological disasters and their management if they occur. Special attention will be dedicated to the measures for reducing the negative impact of climate change and improvement of biodiversity.

The official website of the Slovenian Presidency can be found at


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In the field of spatial planning and the environment in connection with management of coastal and marine resources, Slovenia is an example of good practice. It is the first country in the European Union to have a maritime spatial plan. During its Presidency of the EU Council, it obtained the Contracting Parties’ consensus to designate the whole of the Mediterranean Sea as an emission control area for sulphur oxides (MED SECA), which was the greatest achievement of COP 22 in Turkey and which the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) will enforce in 2025.

Author: Olga Golub

Date: 12. December 2023

Time to read: 3 min