Mepielan Ebulletin

  EditorialAdvocating a Public Trust Approach 
  for the Sustainable Environmental Governance 
  in the Mediterranean 

  by Evangelos Raftopoulos,
  Editor and Founding Director of MEPIELAN Centre,
  Professor of International Law,
  Panteion University of Athens, Greece
  Fellow, C-EENRG, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

As the work of MEPIELAN Centre continues apace in 2019, it is steadily involved in bringing forward innovative legal thinking and approaches into the international discussion of a recurring but painfully open question: how to improve implementation and compliance issues of environmental treaty regimes with a view to advancing their sustainability governance.

MEPIELAN Centre, in the framework of its partnership with the UNE/MAP-Barcelona Convention, and, especially, as a Non-Contracting Party member to the 40-member Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development, has persistently advocated the promotion of the innovative, governance-related legal concept of public trust approach (PTA). In the context of the Barcelona Convention regime, this is a painstaking effort. The PTA is not a generally familiar approach to all kinds of international experts, representatives and negotiators. So, the need for its introduction into the Barcelona Convention regime – and into any other environmental treaty regime – as a solid legal and policy platform to address the sustainability aspects of such environmental treaty regimes, and thus substantially enhancing their implementation and improving compliance, requires the development of a careful strategy of its explanation and its appropriate incorporation into sustainability treaty governance.

In fact, it is quite challenging to test the PTA as a practical and innovative method to support environmental sustainability efforts in the framework of the Barcelona Convention/Protocols and MAP system (BCS) in view of its present, apparently imbalanced situation. The BCS is faced with a decisive gap in the implementation of its sustainability objective and obligation at regional and national levels. Approaches to sustainability governance and the application of the ecosystem-based approach have developed at the technical, scientific and political levels within the BCS. However, the legal basis for such governance is relatively weak, as static traditional legal concepts and rules of international law entirely overlook the “fiduciary” legal aspect of the relational basis and the sustainability governance of the dynamic BCS. 

It is quite distressing that the sustainability obligations, commitments and governance strategies of the BCS largely remain devoid of any legal flesh. Stipulated, most emphatically, in the BCS (e.g. Preamble of the Convention, para. 2, Art. 4 of the Convention, Preamble of the ICZM Protocol, para. 3) and directly mentioned in the implementative decisions of the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development (MSSD 2016-2025) such obligations, commitments and governance strategies continue to be linked with a shadowy implementation. In its endeavor to open new windows for effective and efficient sustainability governance, COP-19 of the BCS, proceeded to link the objectives of the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development (MSSD 2016-2025) to the Sustainable Development Goals. Referring to objective 6 of the MSSD “Improving governance in support of sustainable development”, it made a clear reference to “the need to advance public trusteeship concepts in the existing instruments for better and more equitable governance and more effective and efficient public participation” (UNEP(DEPI)/MED IG.22/28, Annex, 155). This general commitment was reinforced by contributions of the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development (MCSD) towards the COP-20 recommendation “to explore new legal concepts related to governance such as the "public trust approach", which constitutes an interesting legal perspective for the coherent implementation of a number of SDGs" (Report, UNEP(DEPI)/MED WG.441/9, para. 84, 11), as noted at its 17th Meeting in 2017 (Athens, 4-6 July, 2017).   

MEPIELAN E-Bulletin is a dynamic electronic newsletter of MEPIELAN Centre, 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.


by Evangelos Raftopoulos, Professor of International Law, Panteion University, Athens, Greece, Fellow, C-EENRG, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
There is a challenging and refreshing approach in my new book “International Negotiation: A Process of Relational Governance for International Common Interest” that maintained my spirit daringly devoted and my interest creatively alive throughout the years of its writing. I propose a relational theory that systematically unveils the interrelationship between International Negotiation and Treaty as a process of relational governance constructing International Common Interest (ICI), thus raising a fundamental theoretical claim and a practical platform for an interdisciplinary and more knowledgeable understanding and conduct of international negotiation.
by Julien Le Tellier, Socio-Economic Affairs Programme Officer, UN Environment/MAP & Ilias Mavroeidis, Governance Programme Officer, UN Environment/MAP*
In the Mediterranean region, there are longstanding procedures and practices of dialogue and interaction between Science and Policy within robust institutional frameworks established for a better environmental governance and sustainable management of marine and coastal ecosystems, in particular within the UN Environment/Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) – Barcelona Convention system. Being subject to an increasing number of cumulative pressures and threats associated with human activities that have significant impacts on marine and coastal ecosystems, the Mediterranean basin is both a showcase and a testing ground for environmental governance and for evidence-based policy-making at the regional level.
by Tullio Scovazzi, Professor of International Law, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan, Italy
There is no doubt that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Montego Bay, 1982; UNCLOS) is a cornerstone in the process for the codification of international law. It was described as a “constitution for oceans”, “a monumental achievement in the international community”, “the first comprehensive treaty dealing with practically every aspect of the uses and resources of the seas and the oceans”, as well as an instrument that “has successfully accommodated the competing interests of all nations”. However, there is at least one specific matter where the UNCLOS regime was seen as leading to very unsatisfactory results. A new instrument of universal scope was adopted to better address this matter.A new instrument of universal scope was adopted to better address this matter. It is the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (Paris, 2001; CPUCH).
by Dr. Alexandros Kailis, Special Adviser on International & European Affairs, Office of Coordination, Institutional, International & European Affairs, General Secretariat of the Government
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in September 2015, provide a universal, visionary and transformative framework for sustainable development, ensuring that “no one is left behind”. They introduce an integrated and balanced approach to the process of managing multifaceted economic, environmental and social challenges. They generate, for the first time, contrary to the Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015), implementation commitments up to 2030, for both developed and developing countries, tailored to the specific national context and needs.


Evangelos Raftopoulos, Panteion University, Athens Cambridge University Press 2019
Evangelos Raftopoulos explores international negotiation as a structured process of relational governance that generates international common interest between and among international participants and in relation to the international public order.
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Editorial Committee

Editor & Director
Professor Evangelos Raftopoulos

Editorial Assistant
Socrates Zachos

Editorial Research Team

Alexandros Kailis
Ourania Anastasiadou
Theano Maneta
Kyriaki Monezi
Maria Striga
Georgios Raftopoulos

Advisory Board

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