"Investing in the environment is the best way to secure long-term sustainable job creation and socio-economic development ". More than a statement, this belief has been a guiding principle for the experts reviewing the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development. It's an approach that forms part of a vast consultation process involving regional stakeholders. The 2016/2025 MSSD has several goals : to harmonise interaction between socio-economic and environmental objectives, adjust international commitments to the Mediterranean contexts, guide national sustainable development strategies and encourage regional cooperation. The project is ambitious, given the realities on the ground.
An increasingly fragile region
The Mediterranean Sea is home to a wide variety of ecosystems and species, subject to considerable pressures. Its coastline hosts 30% of the international tourist arrivals. Development of large and mega-cities is increasing pressures from the rising population levels and the accumulation of economic activities in coastal zones. Mediterranean agricultural products and “diet” have a global reputation, but depend on the sustainability of rural landscapes, resources and decent working conditions. Maritime traffic in this almost completely-enclosed sea has reached an unprecedented density. Recent deep-sea oil and mineral exploration projects in the Mediterranean represent a risk for the environment. This fragility is exacerbated by the region's high sensitivity to climate change. Finally, significant discrepancies in development levels between countries, together with conflicts in the region, pose challenges for envisaging a sustainable future of the Mediterranean Basin.
Solving the issues with the "green economy"
High hopes are being pinned on this new MSSD, including making the Mediterranean "a prosperous and peaceful region in which people enjoy a high quality of life and where sustainable development takes place within the carrying capacity of healthy ecosystems”. How? The discussions, which have been ongoing since the revision procedure got underway in Malta in 2014, are aimed at drawing up the roadmap to be followed. In Marrakesh in June, a draft version of the new MSSD was endorsed by the Revision Commission. The United Nations Summit in New York (25-27th September, 2015) will set out the Sustainable Development Goals that the Mediterranean Strategy will have to be made compatible. Another milestone will be passed in October, in Athens, with the draft decision that should lead to the MSSD 2016/2025 being adopted in February, 2016.