Mepielan Ebulletin


by Professor Evangelos Raftopoulos,
Editor and Director of MEPIELAN Centre,
Panteion University of Athens, Greece

Approaching the end of an eventful year, I would like to welcome you to the new edition of MEPIELAN E-Bulletin and to express my deepest thanks and appreciation for your interest in reading and sharing with us the informative and thought-provoking material of this Bulletin. Retaining its high level of visibility and attendance, the Bulletin receives visitors from 163 countries. Its articles and elaborated news are quoted in academic articles, research papers and international reports, while authorizations are granted for their appearance in other international websites. It is our hope that the Bulletin, being already in operation for five years, continues to serve its fundamental purpose: to shed light on the importance of orienting our understanding of international environmental law and governance and their sustainability perspective towards the multifarious process of constructing and unfailingly developing international common interest. A global conception of justice can be adequately and substantially performed as common interest justice and it would be more than useful, in this respect, to recall a passage from Aristotle’s Nickomachean Ethics: “The political association”, he writes, “was originally formed and continues to be maintained for the interest of its members; and the lawgivers contemplate about it and postulate that justice is the common  interest” (translation mine).

In a Guest Article of this edition, Dr. Maguelonne Déjeant-Pons, Executive Secretary of the Steering Committee for Culture, Heritage and Landscape, and European Landscape Convention, Council of Europe, provides an authoritative insight into the application of the comprehensive and contextual “landscape approach”, encapsulated in the innovative European Landscape Convention, to generating integrated spatial planning and management for coastal zones and marine areas. Underlining the important public interest role and function of landscape viewed in all its constituent parts (ecological, environmental, social, cultural and economic) and their inter-relationships, as contemplated by the Convention, the author clearly and most usefully pinpoints the elements of a common interest governance associated with the “landscape approach”: the appropriate balancing of landscape protection, management and planning activities; the pursuance of a dynamic preservation and enhancement of  diversity and quality of the landscapes recognizing the fundamental role of knowledge; and the utmost importance of public awareness and active public participation. And as the author concludes, the European Landscape Convention serves as “benchmark by some countries” either “to initiate a process of profound changes in their landscape policies” or to “define their policy”. Relatedly, it would be of great interest, in our view, to envisage the European Landscape Convention as the subject of a more deliberation-based cooperative strategy between its Secretariat and the Barcelona Convention Secretariat. This would be a very promising institutional step to the right direction, in view of the complementary function of the Convention with the equally innovative Mediterranean Protocol of Integrated Coastal Zone Management, developed in the framework of the Barcelona Convention system, and the pertinent need to build a clustering in the governance of these two interrelated international instruments. Hence, both instruments could become more “visible” and their implementation could be performed more effectively and more efficiently in advancing international common interest.

Two Insight Articles also feature this edition:

Dr. Atila Uras, Programme Officer, UNEP/Barcelona Convention Secretariat/MAP, provides a thorough and comprehensive presentation of the process of reviewing the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development (MSSD) as an “informed” regional response to global contextual developments, that is, the global sustainable development agenda and the Millennium Development Goals. In doing so, he highlights the institutional steps for its re-negotiation within the Barcelona Convention/MAP system, where science, economy, society and law have their say and the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development (MCSD) thematically governs the production of the final outcome.  

Mr. Alexandros Kailis, a Ph. D. Candidate and a Researcher at the MEPIELAN Centre, offers an insightful analysis of the stages of development of an integrated marine litter management regime in the framework of the Barcelona Convention system. He usefully highlights the multi-dimensionality inherent in the Mediterranean governance of marine litter, notably: the need to apprehend the multifaceted implications of the marine litter pollution (ecological, human health and safety, and economic effects); the effective identification of its international context of development; the existing  Protocol-approach to the regulation of marine litter in the Barcelona Convention system; and the current two-stage evolution of an integrated management approach decided by the latest Meetings of the Contracting Parties, the Strategic Framework for Marine Litter Management (2012) and the Mediterranean Regional Plan on Marine Litter Management (2013). Indeed, multi-level implementation (local, national, regional), progress in  the development of the relevant knowledge and increasing public awareness and participation lie at the heart of the operation of such governance, as he pointedly concludes.    

In the Cases & Documents section, Dr. Ilias Mavroidis, Scientific Expert, Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Greece, Collaborator, MEPIELAN Centre, makes his own contribution to this edition by opening a fresh window into the latest developments in the process of building Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) as a structured international participatory process of cardinal importance. In doing so, he presents the Report of the innovative Open Working Group containing its proposals for the SDG which mark an essential step to the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda in the framework of the United Nations.

Finally, this edition, thanks to the consistent work of the research editorial team of the Bulletin, usefully punctuates the ongoing flow of selected and elaborated topical thematic news. It, also, presents a stimulating interdisciplinary book of current importance, entitled Post-Treaty Politics: Secretariat Influence in Global Environmental Governance, authored by Dr. Sikina Jinnah, which explores the multifarious and influential role of the Secretariats of international conventional regimes in the development of international environmental governance, providing a theoretical and analytical framework armored with specific cases.  

Expressing my warmest thanks and gratitude to my distinguished colleagues and the researchers of MEPIELAN Centre for their important contribution to this edition of the Bulletin, I would like to take this opportunity to extend to you Season’s Greetings and best wishes for 2015.

The Editor

MEPIELAN E-Bulletin is a dynamic electronic newsletter of MEPIELANCentre, Panteion University of Athens, Greece.  It features guest articles, insights articles, critical forum textual contributions and reflections, specially selected documents and cases, book reviews as well as news on thematic topics of direct interest of MEPIELAN Centre and on the cooperative activities and role of MEPIELAN Centre. Its content bridges theory and practice perspectives of international law,international environmental law, sustainable development, and international negotiating process, thus serving the primary goal of Centre: to develop an integrated, inter-disciplinary, context-related and sustainably effective governance approach creating, protecting and advancing international common interest in the fields above. Providing a knowledge- and information-sharing platform and a scholarly forum for the promotion of innovative ideas and enlightened critical views, the Bulletin aims at contributing to a broader scholarly debate on, and to a more stimulating learning process of, important issues of international common interest. The audience of the Bulletin includes academics,researchers, university students, international lawyers, officials and personnel of international organizations and institutional arrangements,heads and personnel of national authorities at all levels (national,regional and local), and members of the civil society at large.

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