Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean



Blue economy shows enormous potential in Mediterranean


Plan Bleu vice-president Christian Avérous was in Marseille on 30th and 31st May, 2017, to chair the closing round table of the "Blue economy for a healthy Mediterranean" conference. The doctor of economics talks to about the enormous potential of the Mediterranean Sea and coasts and the desire to ensure the sustainable and inclusive development of their resources.

Christian Avérous, Plan Bleu vice-president (photo : DR)
Christian Avérous, Plan Bleu vice-president (photo : DR) What conclusion do you draw from the "Blue economy for a healthy Mediterranean" project led by Plan Bleu?

Christian Avérous: The Marseille conference brought together around a hundred participants from twenty Mediterranean countries under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme and its Mediterranean Action Plan. Financed by the MAVA Foundation, the conference was organized by three of the Mediterranean Action Plan's regional action centres (RAC), the Plan Bleu RAC, Priority Actions Programme RAC and Sustainable Consumption and Production RAC.

The event provided an opportunity to discuss the results from the indicators and tools for the measurement and monitoring of a blue economy in the Mediterranean and the economic, social, environmental and management issues in the region. It also made recommendations and identified synergies between ongoing national and international initiatives and programmes relating to the blue economy.

"We would like a Klein blue"

What was the potential identified for the blue economy?

C.A.: A considerable part of economic activity relies on marine and maritime resources: tourism, leisure activities, fishing and aquaculture, offshore energy, shipping and port facilities and sea-bed mining. These sectors are growing at different rates, with varying job creation figures, but they need to grow in a sustainable and inclusive manner.

For many experts, this represents a new frontier, a new world El Dorado, with some predicting that added value from the ocean economy will treble between 2010 and 2030. The Mediterranean already attracts 30% of the world's tourists each year, some 400 million visitors and is traversed by 30% of the world's sea shipments. This economic development must be channelled to make sure it is sustainable and inclusive. Such economic growth is not without danger for the marine resources and ecosystems. Which is why Plan Bleu designed a set of available indicators and intends creating a "nursery" for future indicators.

What would you say is the difference between the blue and green economies?

C.A.: The blue economy is just the green economy applied to coastal zones and the sea. We need to accompany change to ensure the blue really is blue. We would like a Klein blue.

What is still required to make stakeholders more aware of the necessity of this blue economy?

C.A.: The governments of countries and heads of international institutions are taking an interest in the marine economy and blue economy. Slow economic growth worldwide has led to research into how to better exploit the blue economy's potential, both nationally and internationally. We need to reinforce regional cooperation between the various international organizations so that they work for the Mediterranean. We need a better implementation of international commitments (for example, the Barcelona Convention and its protocols or the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development) and therefore for countries to sign and ratify these commitments and transform them into actions. We also need to keep moving forward on international environmental and maritime law. 

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Friday, June 9th 2017

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